Top Award for Public Engagement Officer

A competitive international travel fellowship has been awarded to a member of the university's Public Engagement with Research Unit.

Dr Heather Doran received a fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust which will allow her to travel the world to gain a broad experience of public engagement techniques.   The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust funds around 100 people each year to travel overseas and further their knowledge in a chosen field.   The 2015 fellowships are awarded in a particularly special year for the trust as it also marks the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death with a range of commemorative events.

Dr Doran based her fellowship on international perspectives on the use and future role of social media in the communication of science. Her project was selected from a competitive field of over 1000 entries from across the UK.

During her fellowship, Dr Doran will spend time in North America, China and Japan and is eager to get started. Dr Doran said: 

"I am delighted to have been awarded the Fellowship. This will allow me to make international connections in the fast-evolving area of public engagement using social media and to bring back learning for the benefit of my work in Aberdeen, particularly in the support of staff and students.”

During her fellowship Dr Doran plans to visit a numberof internationally recognised experts in public engagement and science communication. Her programme involves visits to colleagues in China where cultural issues dictate a different approach to public engagement and the use of social media.

Dr Kenneth Skeldon, Head of Public Engagement added:-“

I’m delighted for Heather. She is a valued member of the public engagement team and has worked extremely hard to empower staff and students across the university in the effective and responsible use of social media. Her fellowship will enhance this support, and further raise the profile of Aberdeen to an important international community in this arena, helping to enhance existing collaborations and forge new ones.”

Before joining the public engagement team, Dr Doran has been an advocate of social media throughout her research career. She was invited to blog for a major scientific conference in the USA and regularly promotes important views on evidence-based approaches and responsible research issues. She also co-founded the university’s AU Magazine and Aberdeen Skeptics in the Pub. Her fellowship programme will begin in June and continue in October. Upon its successful completion, Dr Doran will be invested as a member of the Association of Winston Churchill Fellows.

Staff and students interested in the use of social media or wider engagement practice can find information on courses and support at or by emailing