From Urban Wildlife to Invisible Warriors: Staff and students recognised at the President’s Awards for Excellence in Societal Engagement 2023
Science cafes, podcasts, schools outreach and polystyrene balls representing nanomaterials – these are just some of the tools deployed by this year’s winners of the President’s Awards for Excellence in Societal Engagement.
Recognising the profound societal impact of research from across the Imperial community, the winners were celebrated at a garden party on 6 July. Professor Maggie Dallman, Vice-President (International), Associate Provost (Academic Partnerships), said:
"I am amazed and excited by the outstanding achievements of all of our nominees, and extend my congratulations for their well-deserved recognition as part of our President’s Awards. At Imperial, societal engagement is a commitment to ignite curiosity, foster inclusive and meaningful encounters, and create avenues for the exchange of ideas, insights, and skills. The winners of this year's awards have captivated the public's imagination, translated our research into tangible realities and engaged with families, school groups, patients, public and colleagues alike. They epitomise Imperial's aspirations in societal engagement and their passion and dedication serve as a true inspiration."
The Awards recognise Imperial staff, students and partners who have shown extraordinary commitment to engaging society with the College’s work, supporting the development of a research culture with broad impact.
This year, Dr Linda van Keimpema was recognised with two separate awards, Leadership, and Team Achievement. Linda was nominated in recognition of her work on the successful ‘Science Actually’ podcast; and for working alongside Louise Thompson and members of the Invisible Warrior Project to highlight Sickle Cell Disease. The painful inherited condition often goes unacknowledged, but awareness is spread in no small part through the project’s activities including a school outreach scheme.
The Individual Achievement winner was Senior Research Nurse Kelly Gleason, who, in addition to running regular science cafes, training on patient involvement and laboratory tours, produces innovative engagement activities including a recent flash mob dance performance at the Great Exhibition Road Festival.
Westminster-based Mosaic Trust, led by Lena Choudary-Salter, was recognised with an Inspirational Partner Award for working with Imperial’s Public Health Department to engage communities in North West London. Their work includes a range of initiatives raising awareness of research and health information, while informing and shaping Imperial’s research and services.
Students were also celebrated: Faysal Farah, a Chemistry PhD candidate who has co-ordinated a range of projects aimed at widening participation in academia, was given the Individual Student Achievement Award. He recently led a stall at Imperial Lates, at which he asked the public to decorate polystyrene balls and throw them at a representation of the body, demonstrating how careful design leads to the targeting of specific organs.
Meanwhile the Urban Wildlife Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet Doctoral Training Programme Challenge team, based at Imperial’s Grantham Institute and led by Alex Rabeau, was recognised with the Team Award for their school outreach programme run in partnership with the Zoological Society of London.
At the ceremony, Advanced Research Fellow Dr Lindsay Dewa (Public Health) was surprised with the President’s Medal for her commitment to public engagement through a wide range of creative initiatives exploring mental health. Also showing innovation and leadership in societal engagement within their respective fields, a number of staff, students and partners were highly commended for their work, including: Leadership - Kevin Murphy (Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction); Team Achievement - WellHome Community Engagement Team - Diana Varaden, Esther Lee, Swati Jain, Munira Elmi, Adam Skillern (Public Health); Inspirational Partner - Dalgarno Trust; and Student Individual - Jonathan Guo (Medicine) (Life Sciences).
If you’d like to hear more about opportunities to share your work with the public, including events, activities and training, sign up to the Societal Engagement newsletter.
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