Heriot-Watt Engage

Heriot-Watt Engage is the University's initiative to promote, stimulate and support community and public engagement activities by the research community. 

Heriot-Watt Engage was established in 2013 to build upon Heriot-Watt's partnership with the Beltane Network, one of six UK Beacons for Public Engagement funded by Research Councils UK, the Funding Councils and the Wellcome Trust. In 2015, the work of Heriot-Watt Engage was recognised by their award for Public Engagement and Advocacy from ARMA, the Association of Researcher Managers and Administrators. In 2017, the University was awarded an RCUK/UKRI SEEPER grant to create, enrich and embed a culture where excellent public engagement with research (PER) is more effectively and strategically supported. 

Our Public Engagement team builds capacity for engagement across the University; embeds engagement in our structures, processes and culture; works with researchers to develop and carry out their public engagement ideas; and runs a programme of innovative engagement activities.  

Meet the team

Dr Laura Wicks is the Public Engagement Lead at Heriot-Watt University. She developed and leads the multi-award-winning public engagement initiative for the University. Within this role, she supports, stimulates and promotes public engagement activities across the University, with the vision of embedding public engagement activities into academic life, building on the University's strong history of public engagement with local, national and international communities. 

Laura has a particular focus on multi-disciplinary projects, working with people from different disciplines to create projects reaching diverse audiences, addressing the University’s social responsibilities and links to wider society. 

Camilla Irvine-Fortescue is the Responsible Impact Specialist, supporting researchers to embed arts and public engagement activities within their research. Camilla's has a background in arts programming, coordination, administration and events management . She supports a number of projects, including the implementation of Heriot-Watt University's Engaged Research Strategy, collaborating with researchers to share their research with local West Lothian communities, and supporting the development of outreach activities and engaging with audiences through various events such as the Edinburgh Science Festival. 

Caitríona Buggle is the community engagement coordinator for sustainability. She is working with staff, students and external communities to co-design a community engagement programme for sustainability. Caitríona has a background in managing educational, arts and behaviour change programmes and campaigns for diverse communities.

Caitriona is coordinating the co-design and delivery of the sustainability community engagement programme, which will start a conversation about sustainability so that we, as a University, can take action to address the climate crisis. The programme is delivering a number of sustainability events and initiatives that showcase and drive dialogue on the impact of Heriot-Watt policy and research on sustainability across our communities.

Dr Steven Karlsson-Brown is the Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) Specialist. He leads on developing, implementing and sustaining a PPIE delivery plan for the new Health and Care Technologies Global Research Institute. This involves working with patients and the public to meaningfully shape research and make it more relevant and impactful. Involvement refers to an active partnership between patients, members of the public and researchers in the research process. Steven is a Chartered Psychologist with experience working with varied patient groups across his work in both Higher Education and Charity Sectors. Steven is also a STEM Ambassador and is passionate about promoting science literacy and widening participation

Amy Connelly is the Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) Coordinator. She leads the implementation and maintenance of the PPIE delivery plan for the PBIAA project, ensuring the integration of patient and public involvement with a focus on addressing health inequalities in the Tayside Area. This involves collaboration with patients, the public, lay leads, PPIE colleagues at the University of Dundee, as well as broader colleagues and stakeholders in the health and care sectors. With working in marketing and communications roles within the NHS and at the Trussell Trust Foodbank, Amy brings experience in healthcare research and strategy.

Heriot-Watt Engage is part of the Research Engagement directorate, within the Policy, Strategy and Impact Team. 

Engagement Leads

In 2021, Academic Leads for Public Engagement were appointed, who work closely with the Engaged University steering group to deliver the strategy’s mission to 'inspire and understand the mutual needs of our global – local communities and provide measurable pathways to global impact through our pioneering research'. We have expanded this group to include technical services, and are working on a new strategy for engaging our communities. For more details, see the leads webpage. 


Community Engagement Leads

Embedding engagement

From 2017-2019, Heriot-Watt University was funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to create, enrich and embed cultures within higher education institutions where excellent public engagement with research (PER) is more effectively and strategically supported.  

The Strategic Support to Expedite Embedding Public Engagement with Research (SEE-PER) project, led by Prof. Garry Pender and Dr Laura Wicks, enabled us to explore the barriers and challenges to engaging the public in our research, and embed mechanisms to address these challenges. 

Key information

Laura Wicks