Connecting Science Public Engagement Prizes

Our new campus prize scheme to reward and celebrate excellence in public engagement

Our Connecting Science Public Engagement Prizes recognise outstanding efforts in engaging public or schools audiences with science, research and innovation on campus. Presented annually, there are three prize categories:-

Innovator Prize

An individual prize to recognise staff or students at earlier career levels and/or stages in their public engagement journey, who have demonstrated outstanding proactivity and achievement in public engagement. One winner and a runner-up will each receive £500 and £250 respectively plus a development award of the same amount to be used for a public engagement or related professional development activity.

Excellence Prize

An individual prize intended to celebrate a significant and longstanding commitment to public engagement evidenced by sustained activity and influential impact. One winner and a runner-up will each receive £1,000 and £500 respectively.

Engaged Team Prize

A group or team prize to recognise an outstanding collaborative effort in engaging external audiences with aspects of campus science or research. One winning team will receive £2,000.

For the Innovator and Excellence Prizes, direct applications are welcomed by any student or staff member who feels they have a strong engagement portfolio in line with the prize guidelines (below). Alternatively, we accept nominations from staff who feel a colleague should be recommended for a prize (nominators may liaise with nominees when completing the application form).

For the Engaged Team Prize, applications are invited by a lead representative of the team or group which is predominantly based on campus.

The deadline for applications to all categories is Fri 16th March 2018. Prizes will be presented at the Connecting Science Garden Party which will take place on Tues 22nd May 2018.

The Judging Panel

The prizes are assessed by a panel of judges both internal and external to campus. Across all categories, judges will look for a variety of qualities including relevance to campus science, creativity of approach, partnership, sustainability of impact and efforts to tackle equality and diversity through the public engagement activity. 


Dr Bella Starling

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Bella Starling is a Wellcome Engagement Fellow and Director of Public Programmes at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. Her career has spanned neuroscience, genetics and stem cell research, science writing, biomedical ethics, public engagement, patient involvement and science policy, as a practitioner, action researcher, strategic adviser and funder.

Her current role oversees patient and public involvement in health-related research across the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and Wellcome Trust programmes in Greater Manchester (including the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre), covering a huge range of research areas, from primary care to molecular biotiming, 4 NHS Trusts, and working in partnership with a wealth of people, patients, community and creative organisations. Bella, sometimes, referred to as a change-maker is passionate about inclusion in, and democratisation of, research; her Fellowship explores how public engagement with research acts as a catalyst for social change.  


Dr Edward Duca

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Edward Duca is a Science and Innovation Communication Lecturer at the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Business Incubation at the University of Malta. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the research magazine Think that has reached over four million online views. He is a PhD graduate in Genetics (University of Edinburgh) and a freelance science writer, editor and communicator. He has written for several local and international organisations including The Times of Malta, Science and Nature.

In Malta, he founded Malta Cafe Scientifique, CineXjenza and Kids Dig Science, which are all part of the public outreach arm of the Malta Chamber of Scientists. By setting up the science and arts festival Science in the City (visited by over 24,000 per year), he aims to bridge the gap between the sciences and arts, that can benefit each other by providing inspiration, bringing new audiences to cultural events, pushing the boundaries of art into new fields, while shining a critical lens on science. He aims to continue setting up projects that communicate science to the public to create a scientifically aware society.

Dr Heather Featherstone

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Helen Featherstone, is the Head of Public Engagement at the University of Bath, Public Engagement Unit. She works across the university supporting engaged research and creating the conditions for engaged research to flourish. The Public Engagement Unit’s work operates across four areas: Doing Public Engagement, Learning about Public Engagement, Celebrating Public Engagement and Leading on Public Engagement. Prior to this, Helen was doing similar work at the University of Exeter and has also been a post-doc researcher at UWE, Bristol looking at the publics' roles in public engagement. Helen continues to teach on the MSc Science Communication course at UWE.

Helen is also a freelance public engagement consultant specialising in generating insight for the sector, mentoring teams and delivering training. Alongside her university, research, teaching, and freelance experience, Helen has extensive experience in practical STEM engagement activities primarily in interactive Science and Discovery Centres. For 16 years she has been responsible for all aspects of these activities including fundraising, project management, content and event delivery, collaborative working and evaluation.

Steve Palmer

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Steve Palmer is Director of Communications for the Wellcome Sanger Institute and Wellcome Genome Campus. He is responsible for sharing the story of the Sanger and Campus through the media, publications, digital channels, brand and internal communications. Previously he ran science communications, media and digital content teams at Cancer Research UK for 15 years – delivering and running strategies that covered a wide selection of issues from patient data and animal research through to tobacco control and new cancer treatments.  He also ran the communications functions for the British Journal of Cancer, National Cancer Research Institute, National Cancer Intelligence Network and Cancer Research Technology. Through all of these activities he has worked closely with many patient and public groups with an interest in science.  Before that, he was a journalist and editor focussed primarily on the technology sector.

Alexis Mannion

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Alexis Mannion has been working in science communication and public engagement for more than ten years, and has held positions at the Science Museum in London, the British Science Association, and more recently the Francis Crick Institute and Wellcome. During that time, she completed an MSc in Science Communication.

Throughout her career Alexis has been passionate about enabling researchers to communicate their work in a meaningful way, which includes creating opportunities for open dialogue between audiences, scientists, and clinicians. At the Crick, her team led many innovative events and programmes, bringing researchers closer to the public, such as the Crick Chats.

Alexis is currently looking after the Inspiring Science Fund at Wellcome, a joint fund between BEIS and Wellcome which will see £30 million invested in science centres across the UK. The fund encourages science centres to refresh their content, facilities, and to extend and diversify their audiences, helping them connect with underserved communities.

Lindsey Crosswell

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Lindsey Crosswell is Head of External Relations at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), located on the Wellcome Genome Campus near Cambridge in the UK. A member of faculty and Senior Management Committee at EMBL-EBI she has a Europe-wide remit within this intergovernmental organisation. Lindsey leads a team of seven with responsibility for press, communications, public engagement activities, events, international conferences and exhibitions, women in science initiatives, philanthropy and UK alumni activities.

Her own specialism is government and public affairs and she manages the Institute’s stakeholder relationship activities including the international visits programme for funders, government representatives, policy makers, collaborators and members of the public.



Fuller guidance notes and application forms are downloadable below: