Major boost for science and society

Major boost for science and society

A University of Aberdeen led collaboration has secured £40,000 of Scottish Government funding to further develop its Public Engagement with Science programme and extend its reach across the North East and beyond.

The money announced by Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Michael Russell will allow the University’s Public Engagement with Science Unit to work alongside TechFest-SetPoint and the city’s Satrosphere Science Centre to build on an already thriving public programme of lectures, discussions, workshops and community events.

The funding - one of only four awards at this level - will aim to embed science and innovation into the cultural calendars of people in the community. 

Dr Ken Skeldon, of the University of Aberdeen’s Public Engagement with Science Unit and project leader, said: “We are all delighted with today’s announcement from the Scottish Government.

“These grants are highly competitive and represent a unique funding stream to enable us to build our public science programme. We will work closely with our collaborators to ensure that even more people have access to the events and activities we have been pioneering over the past year.”

In the last 12 months the University has established a programme of Cafe Scientifique discussions take that regularly attract over 300 people each month. The University has also played a leading role in national celebrations such as National Science and Engineering Week, Darwin Year and International Year of Biodiversity.

The science strand at the University’s Word Festival (May 14-16) will this year feature high profile figures and topical issues, including science writer and journalist Simon Singh speaking for the first time in Scotland on his two year libel battle.

The University’s role in the region’s annual science festival TechFest will also continue to grow.

Dr Skeldon added:  “The University aims to demonstrate excellence in its public engagement activities and having an active strategy in this arena has benefits on many fronts.

“It is becoming ever more important for our academic research community to communicate the impact of its work and one of the pillars in doing that is to share the challenges and excitement of current research activity with the public.”

Professor Dominic Houlihan, Chairman of Satrosphere and Vice Principal at the University of Aberdeen, said: “This support for the further continued partnership between the organisations of Aberdeen is a sign of approval from the Government that we are on the right track.”

Lynsey Thompson, Development Manager at Satrosphere, said: “Satrosphere’s partnership with the University of Aberdeen and TechFest-SetPoint is extremely important. By working together we can provide a truly cohesive strategy for the whole of our community ensuring the North East is leading the way with a science engagement network that we can be proud of.”

Yvonne McLellan, Pro Managing Director of TechFest-SetPoint, added: “We are delighted to be partners in this successful bid and look forward to building on our already strong partnership to engage more members of the public with cutting edge science.”