Winners - MVLS Engagement Awards 2017

Judges were delighted by the quality and number of applications.  In addition to our winners a number of "Highly Commended" certificates were awarded.

These 2017 MVLS Engagement Awards, for Contributions to Public Engagement, focus on the exceptional enthusiasm and commitment of our staff. 

Supported by funding from the Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund that is helping to embed and expand a culture of public engagement across the college.

Individual Award Winners

Professor Margaret (Mandy) R MacLean MBE

Professor of Pulmonary Pharmacology in the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences and Associate School of Life Sciences

Professor MacLean is a pioneer and long term champion of public engagement who has been central to several long-standing series of public events including Café Scientifique and Café with Heart. As well as connecting local audiences with MVLS research, these have helped many researchers hone their engagement skills and gain fresh perspectives from those they meet. Mandy has also been involved at a very strategic level in ensuring the university has the right structures to support engagement and, working with BHF Scotland, in taking accessible events to other important audiences such as stakeholders, policy makers and parliamentary partners.

Find out more:

Professor MacLean - Staff Profile

Café Scientifique Glasgow

Professor Mandy MacLean Public Engagement Case Study

Dr Tansy Hammarton

Parasitology Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Infection, Immunity & Inflammation and School of Life Sciences Associate

Over the past 12 years, Dr Hammarton has been highly committed to delivering public engagement events and enhancing the culture for public engagement within her Institute and MVLS. Through her activities, over 3000 school children and teachers have interacted with MVLS researchers, leading to measureable impacts on teaching and pupil aspiration in partner schools. Tansy has also taken on communication and leadership roles and provided formal training leading to greater awareness, expertise, capacity and enthusiasm for public engagement in the Institute of Infection, Immunity & Inflammation and beyond.

The significance of her work has been recognised recently with the award of the Peter Wildy 2018 Prize Lecture (for microbiology education) from the Microbiology Society.

Find out more: 

Dr Tansy Hammarton Staff Profile

Dr Tansy Hammarton Public Engagement Case Study

Dr Claire Donald

Research Associate MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research.

Dr Donald is a dedicated early career researcher who acts as a role model and ambassador for public engagement in MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research(CVR).  She has participated in a huge number of public events, developing hands-on activities to engage adults and children with CVR research, co-ordinating the team and enthusing new staff and students to get involved. Claire also volunteers with external groups such as the Glasgow chapter of Science Grrl and local Scout groups and blogs and writes about her group’s research. 

Find out more: 

Dr Claire Donald - Staff Profile

CVR Blog - Contagious Thinking

Fighting the Zika Virus

Dr Claire Donald Public Engagement Case Study

Team Award Winners

Art Goes Viral

“Art Goes Viral” is a great example of innovate, researcher-led teamwork. Staff and students in the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR) created a colouring book which they used to discuss complex information about viruses, disease and CVR research with a range of audiences. Online publicity led external partners to approach the team with new collaborative opportunities. The book has been a versatile tool in all these settings and will continue to be used as team develops plans to reach underserved audiences.

Find out more: 


Art Goes Viral - Blog

Art Goes Viral Colouring Book

The NanomateScience group

Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences & Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation

The Nanomate Science team has toured science festival across the UK with activities showing how nanoparticles can be used to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. As their experience has grown they have been able to target activities and useful information to people affected by this disease – they have learnt a lot from dialogue and feedback from those people and shared the lessons with colleagues in MVLS. Going forward, the project has recently led to an active collaboration on public engagement with the British Heart Foundation, which will allow them to reach an even larger audience.
Find out more: 

The Institute of Health and Wellbeing Knowledge Exchange & Public Engagement Group

The Institute of Health and Wellbeing Knowledge Exchange & Public Engagement Group, chaired by Sara MacDonald, has made public engagement a real priority and strength for the Institute. Members of the group support and get involved in innovative, high-quality events and just as importantly, they provide advice, toolkits, training and partnership opportunities that enable staff and students to develop their skills. The group ensures engagement is linked with tangible impacts and contributes to even stronger research for example, by developing panels to ensure patients’ perspectives inform research right from the start of the proposal.

Find out more: 

"Be inspired!" Introduction to impact in IHW

Highly Commended

STEM in the Gorbals

In 2017, Gorbals resident Dr Saeeda Bhatti spotted a local funding opportunity to bring University of Glasgow research into the community. Matching researchers’ expertise against the Curriculum for Excellence, she enlisted staff and students from MVLS* to take part in a science week event at St Francis Primary School. The children got hands on learning about with topical research that’s relevant to them, from personalised medicine to parasites and the immune system. They even took data from the event back to the classroom and carried out their own statistical analysis. Next came a science writing and drawing competition, with winning entries turned into a magazine to share with parents and the wider community. Pupils showcased the magazine at September’s Explorathon Extravaganza in the Riverside Museum. They were joined by pupils from Blackfriars Primary School, who recorded interviews with visitors and researchers about their interests in science; they later edited these into podcasts with help of staff the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine, who run the Naturally Speaking blog and podcasts.

Through the children’s involvement, families and community groups became interested in further events and opportunities to work with the university and its partners. As a result, Saeeda and the team are planning new events for 2018 involving the schools, community partners and researchers from the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde. 

* STEM in the Gorbals involved researchers from across the University of Glasgow including Medical Genetics and Genomics, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine, Welcome Trust Parasitology and others. The project won Best Community or Public Engagement Initiative  -  Knowledge Exchange & Public Engagement Awards 2017.

Glasgow Polyomics Team

Researchers at Glasgow Polyomics have developed an innovative series of interactive events showing how their cutting edge technology measures the chemical and genetic makeup of a wide variety of samples. The science is made accessible by using interesting and timely examples of food and drink - often with a Scottish flavour. For example, in their “Ginomics” events the team showed that a range of gins had detectably different botanical profiles (molecular compositions of flavour-giving plant extracts). Audiences tried out making their own personalised gin, leant how smell and taste works on a molecular level, and tried separating out their own complex mixtures, in between gin tastings. The Polyomics crew also adapted various events for use at rural science festivals, taking the science to audiences who normally have little access to universities.

Staff and students involved report that developing and presenting events, blogging and promoting them on social media have honed their communication skills. The events generated a lot of media interest, leading to the researchers appearing in the Michael Mosely documentary “The Wonderful World of Blood”.

Glasgow Polyomics works on a cost-recovery basis, and an additional benefit of the engagement programme has been that many events can be adapted for professional purposes. For example, using interactive, eye-catching activities at conferences is helping to generate interest in Polyomics’ work from industrial partners and other customers.

Digital Communications Team MCR-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research

Research staff and students from the MCR-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR) decided that digital communications were key to engaging people around the world with the CVR's important research. Together, they set up the ‘Contagious Thinking’ platform to make the best use of social media, blogging, podcasting and video. Subjects of their work have included talking with national and international external visitors to the centre, speaking with CVR's own researchers about their work, and special posts and podcast episodes on larger campaigns such as HIV awareness and International Rabies Day. Data metrics confirm that these posts are reaching an international audiences, with podcast views centred on the regions where the research is focused.  CVR’s digital voice is also used to communicate the Centre’s hands-on activities.

An important aspect of the group’s work has been developing staff and students’ skills so that its work can be sustained and extended. The platform provides a great training opportunity and access to specialist equipment and ex member Joanna Crispell is now using her experience in her role as a science communication manager for Science Gallery Dublin. The group also recently accepted its first undergraduate student (Josie Bellhouse, intercalated medicine) who attained high marks for her honours project with the podcast.

David Bhella, MCR-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research

Professor David Bhella has promoted public engagement and schools outreach within the MCR-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research  for over a decade. A highlight of his work has been a set of annual workshops providing hands-on experience of advanced molecular biology methods to school pupils studying Higher Biology. Developed in partnership with Glasgow Science Centre and supported by staff and students from the CVR, “Applications of DNA technology” combines lectures, practical training and careers sessions. The workshop has identified and filled a vital gap in teaching of a topic where scientific advances had outpaced curriculum change. It also provides Continuing Professional Development to high-school teachers. Evaluation shows that participants’ knowledge of molecular biology is improved and many are encouraged to consider careers in the life sciences.

Read more at The Polymerase Chain Reaction.