The inaugural Principal’s Research Impact and Engagement (PRIME) Awards 2019 took place in December in a glitzy and entertaining event at the Edinburgh Business School. Four awards were presented to well-deserving winners, recognising and celebrating excellence in research impact and public engagement with research.
The four prizes awarded were Pioneer, Established Academic, Partnership, and Changemaker, with the winner in each category receiving £1,000 to spend on future impact and engagement activities.
The Pioneer award recognises those new to impact and public engagement, whether established or early career researchers. In 2019, this was awarded to Dr Michael Craig, a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Social Sciences. Michael has embedded engagement and impact into his research on human memory by facilitating meaningful two-way dialogues and knowledge transfer with the people he works with. He has delivered a range of accessible activities at HWU and in the local community, performed at the Edinburgh Fringe, and created a strong online presence.
Highly commended: Dr George Jaramillo, Assistant Professor in the School of Textiles and Design, was Highly Commended for his project entitled 'Aural Textiles'. George worked collaboratively with artists from rural villages in the Highlands to create contemporary textiles patterns through a digital/analogue sound-to-pattern process.
This award recognises academic staff at assistant, associate and professor levels who demonstrate a leading role in making impact and/or engagement happen. The winner in 2019 was Dr Helen Bridle, Associate Professor in the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences. As part of the Arrest-TB Project, Helen and her colleagues are working with schools to co-create games to engage children and young people with the concept of antimicrobial resistance. One such game, TB-Tag, has proved a big hit at science festivals and in schools.
Highly Commended: Dr Ke Guek Nee, Associate Professor in the School of Social Sciences based in Malaysia, was Highly Commended for his research into internet usage and how it links to behavioural and psychological health, resulting in Malaysia’s first ‘Cyber Wellness Centre’.
The Partnership Award recognises researchers who have built external partnerships at all career stages, evidencing the added value of working in sustainable, collaborative, interdisciplinary teams. The prize was awarded to Dr Marcel Lukas, Assistant Professor from the School of Social Sciences. Marcel’s collaborative research project with Money Dashboard found ways to help people with their daily financial decision making.
Highly Commended: the SoCoRo Team, lead by Professor Ruth Aylett from the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, were Highly Commended for their Socially Competent Robots Project, which saw them work with autism initiatives across the country to investigate whether a robot can help high-functioning adults with autism improve their ability to recognise social signals.
A special Changemaker Award, chosen by a subset of the Public Engagement Steering Group, was presented by our principal and vice-chancellor Professor Richard Williams OBE, to Professor Alan Gow from the School of Social Sciences. The Changemaker Award recognises Alan’s outstanding past, present, and potential future contribution to research impact and engagement at the University. As well as embedding engagement and impact into his own research, Alan has championed it within the School of Social Sciences and the wider University – evident in his successful coordination of 2019’s Year of Health.
Year of Health Research Photography Competition
During the ceremony, awards were also presented to the winners of the Year of Health Research Photography Competition. Winning the Healthy Planet category, as well as the public vote, was an image entitled 'Stirring with Microscopic Bubbles' by Dr Alvaro Jose Conde, Research Associate in the Institute of Biophysics, Bioengineering and Biological Chemistry. Meanwhile, in the Healthy Planet category two images scoped joint place: 'A Brand New Life' by PhD student Glenn Jessen from the Institute of Life and Earth Sciences, and 'Somewhere Inside the Rainbow' by PhD student Christopher Thomson from the Institute of Chemical Sciences.
As well as the prizes, the audience were also treated to a taster of 'Science is Magic', an entertaining family-friendly show that aims to help young audiences learn more about cells and the human body. The show was created and performed by PhD students Adrian Garcia-Burgos and Boy Van Basten from the Institute of Biophysics, Bioengineering and Biological Chemistry.