Heather Morgan was recently presented with an Early Career Award for Outstanding Achievement in the 2015 Principal's Prize for Public Engagement with Research.
Heather has a track record of actively engaging publics in her research dating back to 2007, when she began her doctoral studies. More recently, Heather has led a number of public engagement with research initiatives, including collaborating with a project co-applicant local mother and baby group. Heather involved members of the group in research design and activities throughout the BIBS: Benefits Incentives for Breastfeeding and Smoking cessation in pregnancy project. In addition, over the last year, Heather has showcased her work on second hand smoke and indoor air quality through the TechFest 2014 Public Events and Schools Outreach programmes, at the Scottish Kids Show 2014, when she partnered with the Scottish Government and NHS Grampian, and at this year’s May Festival (with support from the Scottish Government). Heather is also STEM ambassador and Science Grrl advocate, and is a champion for careers in applied social science. She has used a range of digital and interactive techniques to bring her research to life in order to engage and inspire. Heather said: “I’ve always been committed to engaging publics with my research. I think it’s really important to involve stakeholders in all research to ensure that it is made more relevant and can really make a difference. It is especially important to communicate and collaborate with diverse groups and people to ensure that those who may be affected by or benefit from your research have a say in it. The partnership approach I led with the mother and baby group is a good example – including members as part of the research team allowed both health services research and human priorities around smoking and breastfeeding to be explored together, and there is no doubt in my mind that this strengthened our findings and recommendations as well as having impact for those in the community who became key players in our Unit, University and National research programmes. Getting out there and talking to people, working with them, is crucial – from offering training based on research results to holding discussions to inform new research questions, whether that is with kids, the public, practitioners or policy makers, through engaging with local press or with the wider world through platforms like Twitter – this should be at the heart of what we do and is what keeps us grounded in the reasons why we are doing it! I was delighted to be presented with this award. Engagement and partnership is at the core of my work. It is a privilege to be recognised for that through this Principal’s Prize and I look forward to continuing to embed engagement within my research practices and encouraging others to do so too.”
Heather will be showing at this year’s Bang Goes the Borders science festival and will also be participating in TechFest 2015 to engage people in her current research on digital health.