Our Connecting Science Public Engagement Prizes recognise outstanding efforts in engaging public or school audiences with Wellcome Genome Campus’ science, research and innovation.
This year a diverse range of people and projects were nominated for a prize, and we would like to congratulate everyone who was nominated.
You can read more about all the nominees and winners in the Prizes booklet.
You can watch the Public Engagement Prize Celebration below, which took place online on the 15 October and was hosted by science comedian and physicist Helen Arney. Thank you to all who came and for all the supportive and encouraging messages we received through the chat.
Commitment to Public Engagement
Joint winners: Nicole Wheeler and Maria Duque Correa
The Commitment to Public Engagement Prize celebrates staff or students who have demonstrated significant and longstanding commitment to public engagement.
Nicole Wheeler is a data scientist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute. She has embedded public engagement as a routine aspect of her work. She has embraced wide ranging opportunities, from film festivals to educational programs that bring electronics and big data into schools. As a role model for young people, especially girls, Nicole’s passion and enthusiasm shine through, and she enjoys sharing and talking about her career path.
Maria A. Duque Correa
Maria A. Duque Correa is a research fellow at the Wellcome Sanger Institue. Her passion for involving the public in her research is driven by her aspiration to create better health outcomes for people affected by the infectious diseases she studies. She is also committed to raising awareness of these diseases which, despite having devastating impacts in low and middle income countries, are often underrepresented in research, media and policy circles.
Public Engagement Innovator
Winner: Ioanna Kalvari
The Public Engagement Innovator prize recognises individual members of staff or students who have demonstrated outstanding proactivity or creativity in public engagement.
Ioanna Kalvari is senior software developer at EMBL-EBI. She obtained her degree in computer science before completing a PhD in molecular biology – a mix of expertise that enabled her career path in bioinformatics. She is passionate about the creation and delivery of interactive experiences which are inspired by her work at EMBL-EBI: The popular activity Genome Explorers, co-developed with Anton Petrov, is based on her work with large databases such as Rfam (a collection of RNA families) which takes people on an exciting investigative journey
Public Engagement Advocacy
Winner: Rob Finn
The Public Engagement Advocacy prize recognises members of staff or students who have enabled positive change in public engagement through leadership, guidance, practical measures or emotional support.
Rob Finn is the team leader of the Microbiome Bioinformatics team and has actively framed public engagement as a valued activity within the team, across all career stages. This has included encouraging colleagues to enrol on training and development and to identify and embrace opportunities for public engagement that will support a genuine research culture change. Discussion among the team on how to include new voices in their work is now commonplace, with proper time given to reflect and analyse which processes and interventions are most effective.
Public Engagement Prize for Technical Staff – Sponsored by the Technician Commitment;
Joint winners: Valerie Vancollie and Sophie Pritchard
The Public Engagement Prize for Technical staff celebrates staff across the entire Campus who have undertaken or supported high quality public engagement as part of their work at the Wellcome Genome Campus.
Valerie Vancollie is an advanced researcher assistant at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and has taken a prominent role in a number of public activities. She has embraced opportunities to reach new audiences through festivals and events, such as the Peterborough shopping centre pop-up lab as part of European Researchers’ Night. Valerie has also been a committed participant in on-campus engagement, both with schools and public audiences. Valerie recently joined the Golden Eagle project – a collaborative effort to take genomics experiences into a local prison.
Sophie Pritchard is an advanced researcher assistant at the Wellcome Sanger Institute. She likes to take real aspects of the lab to the public whenever she can, employing practical devices, props and images to help share her work in spatial genomics. She is part of the Human Cell Atlas, and an active member of the Technician Commitment – aimed at raising the profile and value of technical professions.
Collaboration in Public Engagement
Winner: The Golden Eagle Project
Recognises a group of individuals who have worked particularly well together to embed public engagement into their work.
The Golden Eagle Project has introduced science and research into an unusual setting, looking to positively affect the lives of prisoners and their visiting families at a prison in East Anglia. A main objective is to explore and enrich the social dynamic of the visit session through interaction and discussion catalysed by the science activities and the researchers taking part. This has been a collaboration of Campus members: Carmen Lidia Diaz Soria, Matt Kleanthous, Michal Szpak, Valerie Vancollie, Faye Rodgers, Melanie Robinson, Stefanie Pryke, Sara Widaa, James Baker, Jamie Brannigan, from both Wellcome Sanger Institute and EMBL-EBI.