Staff and students recognised for public engagement with research

Staff and students recognised for public engagement with research

Five staff and students from across the University have been recognised for their significant efforts in engaging the public with research. The prizes were awarded at the University's May Festival.

The awards were presented by BBC Health Correspondent Eleanor Bradford and included a senior and early career category. Researchers recognized in the senior category included archeologist Dr Rick Knecht who took the overall prize followed by historian Professor Tom Weber.

Dr Knecht and colleagues including Charlotta Hillerdal and Kate Britton have been instrumental in bringing together community leaders, craft people, teachers, and young people in excavation and recording of a key prehistoric site through their Nunalleq Project. Professor Weber’s award recognises his considerable public engagement work related to, among other things, the impact of the First and Second World Wars.

In the early career category, Hannah Grist and Jenny Sturgeon of the School of Biological Sciences shared top prize while neuroscientist Ourania Varsou was runner up.   

University Principal Professor Sir Ian Diamond said “The public engagement being championed at the University is second to none and is driven by the expertise and enthusiasm of our staff and students. I am extremely pleased we have been able to recognise a selection of staff and students from what was once again an extremely high calibre of entries to the competition. I offer my warm congratulations to everyone in this year’s competition.”

The Principal’s Prize competition complements other initiatives put in place by the University’s Public Engagement with Research Unit to support our academic community, including enabling funds and an annual suite of opportunities for staff and students to actively get involved.

Dr Ken Skeldon, Head of the Public Engagement with Research, added “The competition attracted a set of extremely strong applications. The judges, who spanned the sciences, arts and humanities, faced a difficult challenge in deciding this year’s shortlist. The process has reflected how fortunate we are at Aberdeen to have an academic community that regards public engagement as core to their activity.

The 2014 public engagement prize competition is supported by the University of Aberdeen and a Research Councils UK Catalyst Award. More details of the work of the Public Engagement with Research Unit can be found at

Photos show

Archaeologist Dr Rick Knecht receiving the senior award on behalf of the Nunalleq project team.

Neuroscientist and postgraduate researcher Dr Ourania Varsou being presented with her outstanding achievement award.