Public Engagement with Research Awards 2021

Outstanding work undertaken in exceptionally challenging circumstances has been celebrated during a special awards ceremony.

Celebrating their success are (back row, from left) Dr Briony Thomas, Professor Karen Spilsbury, Professor Nick Plant, Shauni Sanderson and Anna Anderson with (front, from left) Dr Reena Devi, Professor Sue Pavitt, Dr Alexa Ruppertsberg, Dr Anna Barker and Dr Helen Graham

Public Engagement with Research Awards 2021. October 2021

The 2021 Public Engagement with Research Awards recognised those who’ve embraced the challenges of the past 18 months and delivered innovative projects.

Applications were scored and reviewed by an all-external expert panel, featuring:

  • Dr Steve Scott, Public Engagement Lead – UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Professor Sheena Cruickshank, Academic Lead for Public Engagement – University of Manchester
  • Dr Michael Eades, Head of Civic Engagement – Goldsmiths, University of London; and
  • Dr Daniel Glaser, Director of Science Engagement – The Royal Institution.

Judging proved difficult as entries were of an incredibly high standard. But with the final decisions made, awards were presented in three categories to researchers from across a range of faculties and their wide-ranging public engagement (PE) and Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) collaborators.

Dr Alexa Ruppertsberg, Head of Public Engagement with Research at Leeds, said: “We’re very grateful for the time and effort our expert panel invested in assessing the submissions.

“I think it’s reassuring to know for everyone that submissions passed a very high level of scrutiny and impartiality, making the awards highly respectable in the field and sector.

“After 18 draining months for all of us, the work of our winning colleagues, which has taken place during this time, is testament to the enduring motivation for engagement with research: for the benefit of society. Thank you very much for your continued efforts to engage people with research.”

Finalists were honoured during a special ceremony on campus, alongside two cohorts of Engagement Excellence Scheme Fellows celebrating their graduation.

Featured here are the award winners and runners-up.

Outstanding PE/PPIE: Development of a Research Idea

Winner – Dr Sarah Mackie (Medicine) with Amy Rebane (Leeds Biomedical Research Centre), Claire Davies (Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research, Medicine)

This patient involvement activity supported the development of a clinical trial study for a rheumatic condition.

The team applied learning from a failed proposal to rethink their approach for the STERLING-PMR project, which brought together academics, clinicians, patients and the public to form a PPIE group that could provide diverse perspectives on the research project from the very start.

Runner-up – Dr Reena Devi with Professor Karen Spilsbury (Healthcare)

This patient involvement activity supported a project that aims to improve the mouth and oral care of older people living in care homes.

Using a participatory research approach, Dr Devi and Professor Spilsbury worked with care home staff to refine their research question, develop evidence-based guidance, determine knowledge and understanding of mouth and oral care amongst care home staff, and develop the successful COMMIT Study grant application.

Public Engagement with Research Awards 2021. October 2021

Dr Alexa Ruppertsberg (far left) with Doing Research in Partnership Award winners Dr Morgan Herod, Dr Briony Thomas, Dr Indira Banner (Dr Shamaila Anwar not pictured)

Outstanding PE/PPIE: Doing Research in Partnership

Winner – Dr Briony Thomas (Mechanical Engineering and Design) with Dr Morgan Herod (Molecular and Cellular Biology); Dr Indira Banner (Education); Dr Shamaila Anwar (National Institute for Health Research, Medicine), Batley Girls’ High School and Field Lane Junior Infant and Nursery School

The Keepin it Real science literacy project translated the team’s collective research expertise into action for a local community, mobilising support from staff, students and graduates across five faculties at Leeds.

Through partnership with schools and teachers, the team was able to make scientific concepts around viruses and vaccines understandable and relevant to children and young people.

Using arts-led approaches – including storytelling, animation, drawing and hands-on modelling – aided the communication of complex scientific concepts, whilst being engaging and fulfilling for pupils during a disruptive year in school.

Runner-up – Anna Anderson (Medicine) with Professor Anthony Redmond (Medicine), Professor Gretl McHugh (Healthcare) and Dr Christine Comer (Medicine)

The Virtual Knee School is a novel digital intervention, which provides pre-operative education and an exercise plan to support patients to manage their symptoms, understand what to expect and get fitter before their total knee replacement surgery. 

The Virtual Knee School was developed in partnership with patients, ensuring their views remain the key driving force behind its content and design. 

Runner-up – Dr Helen Graham (Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies) with Professor William Gould (History), Professor Seán McLoughlin (School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science), Dr Lynn Wray and Julia Ankenbrand (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures), Jo Quinton Tulloch and Vicky Clifton (National Science and Media Museum), Mary Dowson (Bradford Community Broadcasting), Nima Poovaya-Smith (Alchemy), Tim Smith (photographer and curator) and Aamir Darr (Kahani Reading Project)

Bradford’s National Museum, a large-scale collaborative action research project, worked with more than 150 people in different ways, to explore how the National Science and Media Museum could become better connected, more open, engaged and collaborative with local communities.

The team used co-production as a core methodology to investigate their research questions, generate deeper understanding and use reflective and dialogic processes to conceptualise the challenges and tensions in novel ways. The outcomes of the project remain very useful in everyday practice in the museum.

Public Engagement with Research Awards 2021. October 2021

Dr Alexa Ruppertsberg (far left) with Disseminating Research Award winner Professor Sue Pavitt

Outstanding PE/PPIE: Disseminating Research

Winner – Professor Sue Pavitt (Dentistry) with Nigel Townsend (Theatre of Debate) and volunteer contributors from underserved communities, medical reviewers, clinical advisors, NIHR staff and scriptwriters

COVID and Me are digital theatre projects co-created during the pandemic ‘with communities for communities’, to raise awareness of the importance of taking part in vaccine research.

The work builds on creative arts PPIE and participation research as an effective dissemination vehicle to communicate the importance and value of research to underserved communities.

The project was aligned to the needs of the country to tackle the inadequacy of equality, diversity and inclusion in research participation and vaccines. COVID and Me is a novel way to support our most at-risk communities to engage with vaccination and research to lessen the emerging chasm of covid-19-related health inequalities.

Runner-up – Dr Anna Barker, with Dr David Churchill and Professor Adam Crawford (Law)

This PE activity is linked to two research projects conducted in partnership with Leeds City Council Parks and Countryside Service and Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum. This impactful civic project, which combined different forms of PE to great effect, including an exhibition, talks, social media campaign, think pieces and short films, encouraged a diverse public audience to interact with both the history of parks, as well as the pressing contemporary challenges facing Leeds’ public green spaces.

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