Public engagement successes

The University has marked another year of fantastic public engagement (PE) work.

The 2018 Public Engagement with Research Awards – which saw a very high standard of entries – have been presented to researchers across a range of faculties.

Applications were reviewed by a panel of external experts, including the Director of the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement, Heads of PE at other Russell Group universities and managers from the Wellcome Trust and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Dr Alexa Ruppertsberg, Head of PE at the University, said: “The PE awards recognise people for excellent public engagement or patient involvement and engagement.  Our judging panel were delighted to review applications of such a high standard.”

Featured here are the main award winners.

Delivering Research in Partnership Award

Winner: Professor Ingrid Sharp and Dr Corinne Painter (School of Languages, Cultures and Societies) 

Ingrid sharp PE Awards
DVC Professor Lisa Roberts presents Professor Ingrid Sharp 

This project was developed in close collaboration between cultural and gender historians working within German studies, together with theatre company Bent Architect. Through researching, writing and producing a play – complemented by an exhibition, public talks and workshops – the partnership told the story of the 1918 German Revolution that brought the First World War to an end, focussing on the ordinary populace, specifically women, who actively opposed the war and supported the revolution.

The co-production of research generated mutual benefits: Professor Sharp and Dr Painter's team’s approach to further research changed as the process presented new questions, challenged existing interpretations and broke down the barriers to genuine co-production that can hinder academic collaboration. And Bent Architect has permanently changed its practice as a socially-engaged theatre company.

Runner-up: Dr Aaron Koshy (Faculty of Medicine and Health)

The Patient Involvement and Engagement activity accompanying Dr Koshy's study – investigating the effect of altering the heart rate and pacemaker settings in patients with heart failure – had a focus on the patient participation experience. Participants played a central role providing feedback and changes to the study design. As a result of the activity, Dr Koshy has introduced and updated processes within his research team to improve the patient participation experience.

Disseminating Research Results Award

Winner: Dr Elizabeth Gaston, Dr Jane Scott and Ian Rees (School of Design)

Elizabeth Gaston PE Awards November 2018
DVC Professor Lisa Roberts and Dr Elizabeth Gaston

This PE activity disseminated the findings of recent knit design research, using botanical models of growth to inspire shape-changing knit-work undertaken by Dr Scott, and the performance craft methodology developed by Dr Gaston during her PhD research.

In collaboration with the Crafts Council and Leeds Arts University, a series of connected activities were introduced through four-day workshops in schools, aimed at transforming knowledge and engagement with textiles for pupils in the Yorkshire region.

Runner-up: Dr Mathew Francis, Dr Elena Simone, Lorenzo Metilli, Professor Megan Povey and Liam Morris (School of Food Science and Nutrition)

‘The Science of Sound’ looks at new ways to characterise materials using soundwaves. The PE activity consisted of a series of interactive demonstrations based around this concept. They were designed to lay the necessary groundwork for people unfamiliar with sound to gain enough knowledge to be able to understand the results of the research.

By engaging with the public, improving their general knowledge of acoustics, the team gained a better understanding of the processes underpinning its technology, allowing members to redesign the characterisation system at the centre of their grant. The team ran a pilot version of its activity and was able to address the problems encountered to improve activity for the next event.

Developing Research Ideas Award

Winner: Elspeth Mitchell and Sarah Harvey Richardson (School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies)

Elspeth Mitchell and Sarah Harvey Richardson November 2018
DVC Professor Lisa Roberts, Elspeth Mitchell and Harvey Richardson

As part of Elspeth and Sarah’s doctoral research on the relation between artistic practice and girlhood, they worked with two groups of secondary school girls in Leeds on a programme to explore the power of images and confront the ways that social media and ‘selfie culture’ shape attitudes and beliefs about women.

They organised sessions with a group of girls from their defined audience, exploring personal experiences, introducing inspirational artists and equipping participants with image-making tools and techniques. Delivered in the form of workshops, after-school groups and intensive summer schools, these sessions offered a more expansive approach to art than that enabled by the mainstream school curriculum.

These activities culminated in a public exhibition visited by 200 people.

Engagement Excellence: Class of 2017/18

The Engagement Excellence Scheme – a programme that aims to support upcoming stars in PE/Patient and Public Involvement, and contribute to improving impact and dissemination of research – is now in its fourth year, with 16 graduate fellows. The scheme saw four more fellows graduate earlier this month.

Congratulations to Dr Sophy Barber (Dentistry), Dr Jessica Hammett (History), Dr Claire Brockett (Mechanical Engineering) and Dr Clare Harley (Healthcare).

Engagement fellows PE awards November 2018
(left to right) Dr Alexa Ruppertsberg, Professor Sue Pavitt, DVC Professor Lisa Roberts, Dr Clare Harley, Dr Sophy Barber, Dr Claire Brockett and Delia Muir.

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