Congratulations to all those MPLS departments, projects and individuals who were recipients of the Vice-Chancellor's Public Engagement with Research Awards, announced at a ceremony on 28th June. Dr Alexy Karenowska won the overall Vice-Chancellor's Award 2017 as well as an Early Career Researcher Award, and MPLS researchers also won two Project Awards and another Early Career Researcher Award. The Awards celebrate public engagement work across the University, and recognise and reward those who undertake high-quality engagement activities and have contributed to building capacity in this area.
The MPLS winners were as follows:
vice-chancellor's award 2017 and Early Career Researcher Award: Dr Alexy Karenowska (Physics)
Dr Karenowska, of the Department of Physics, won her award for her work on a public science project focused on the documentation, preservation, and restoration of at-risk cultural heritage sites across the world. Working with the likes of UNESCO and the Government of the United Arab Emirates, she developed the means to study, document and preserve heritage materials through optical, radio-frequency and X-ray based approaches and the application of 3D printing and machining technologies. In 2016 Dr Karenowska led a team to create a 13 tonne replica of the Triumphal Arch from Syria's Palmyra site using a combination of photogrammetry-based 3D computer modelling and state-of-the-art 3D machining in stone. She managed the installation of this structure on Trafalgar and has overseen the installation of the same arch in New York, Dubai and Florence.
Funded by: Institute for Digital Archaeology [IDA] and the Dubai Future Foundation.
Project Award: Penguin Watch – citizen science to monitor the Southern Ocean (Zoology and Physics)
This project has been designed to help conserve the declining number of penguins. The project is led by Dr Tom Hart of the Department of Zoology and Professor Chris Lintott of the Department of Physics. Penguin Watch collects time-lapse imagery of penguin colonies to monitor the timing and success rate of breeding pairs. Public volunteers then process the data on penguinwatch.org via the Zooniverse platform. Since its launch in September 2014 over 865,000 people from 214 separate countries have visited the website, with 44,000 going on to become registered users, many of whom visit the site every day. Penguin Watch has processed 5.3 million images to date, generating an outstanding data legacy. The data is being used by DPhil students and to inform bodies such as the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.
Funded & Supported by: Darwin Initiative Challenge Fund & Darwin Plus; University’s Development Office; Quark Expeditions; Google; Science & Technology Facilities Council & others.
Project Award: Transforming Lion Killers into Lion Conservationists: Engaging the Public in Tanzania’s Ruaha Landscape (Zoology)
This lion conservation project is led by Dr Amy Dickman of WildCRU, Department of Zoology. It aimed to educate communities in Tanzania’s Ruaha landscape, which holds the world’s second largest lion population, but also has extremely high rates of lion killing by local people. The project conducted educational Park visits for villagers to learn first-hand about wildlife conservation. Ruaha is East Africa’s biggest National Park, but under-resourced local people are unable to visit it. They therefore only experience wildlife when it is posing a danger to them, and are antagonistic towards the Park and its wildlife. To date over 1000 people from 16 villages have participated and over 95% report improved attitudes towards wildlife. Lion killing has reduced by over 90% in the core study area, and the project team are now training other projects in these approaches.
2015 Annual report: https://www.wildcru.org/news/ruaha-carnivore-project-2015-annual-report/
Funded by: Donors include African Wildlife Foundation, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Lion Guardians, National Geographic, the Recanati-Kaplan Foundation, Panthera, Peoples' Trust for Endangered Species, St Louis Zoo and Tusk.
Early Career Researcher Award: Chico Camargo (Physics)
Chico Camargo, a DPhil student from the Rudolf Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics, won his award for his work on YouTube creating videos about complex systems concepts. Since June 2016, Chico has been part of a Portuguese-speaking YouTube scientific outreach channel called BláBláLogia, with daily videos on topics from space travel to ecology. He aims not only to focus on research but also to inspire people in the ways that we study such phenomena and increase understanding of the world around us. Chico is the host and writer of a fortnightly show, Top Models, where he engages people with the mathematical models used in science, and how they connect the natural and the social sciences. He has produced over twenty films to date to a mostly young adult (18-30 years old) audience in Brazil.
BláBláLogia on YouTUbe: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3Ooj_iDWELBumIEDejyNHQ
Building Capacity Award: Borrow the Moon (Earth Sciences)
Borrow the Moon invited Oxford primary school groups with very low levels of participation in Higher Education to visit the Department of Earth Sciences. There they joined researchers in investigating samples of real lunar material brought to earth by the Apollo missions in the 1970s, which are rarely seen and held, even by researchers of lunar science. The project was led by Dr Jonathan Wade, NERC Research Fellow in the Department of Earth Sciences. Over 180 children from three primary schools attended the sessions, and six research students and researchers participated as presenters and facilitators. Since the project two research students have undertaken additional engagements at two further schools. The activity has also enabled the Widening Access and Participation team to build capacity by creating new and strengthening existing links with participating schools.
Funded by: Resourced by the Department of Earth Sciences and WAP. Lunar samples loaned by the Science and Technology Facilities Council.
Commenting on the awards overall, the Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson said: “I have been deeply impressed by the quality of the public engagement with research projects submitted for this year’s awards. The breadth and diversity of the activities taking place show how seriously the University takes its commitment to public engagement.”
Professor Alison Woollard, the University’s Academic Champion for Public Engagement with Research, said: “Public engagement enriches both research and society and the University is committed to enabling our researchers to inspire, consult and collaborate with the public. I’m delighted that we are able to recognise and highlight the fantastic work our researchers are doing and hope these awards encourage more colleagues across the University to carry out their own public engagement with research.”