Pioneering projects honoured

Developing a community of trusted collaborators to enable world-changing research has seen pioneering projects receive coveted accolades.

Winners of our inaugural Research Culture and Engaged for Impact Awards were announced during a special ceremony held on campus on Tuesday 19 July.

An impressive number of applications highlighted the broad spectrum of world-changing research at Leeds, together with the significant improvements being made to our research culture, which have been enabled by a wide range of colleagues. External peer reviewers commented on the high calibre of submissions across the board.

Among those projects celebrating success were the winners of the ‘Building Partnerships and Networks’ and ‘Collegiate and Supportive Environment’ awards, which both demonstrated the merits of working in collaboration with a diverse range of partners.

Brilliant achievement

The ‘Building Partnerships and Networks’ award recognises the importance of developing sustained collaborations to bring about change.

The winning project in this category was led by the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA), the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) and the Faculty of Medicine and Health. Currently, one in seven UK deaths are attributed to poor diet. To tackle this problem, it’s essential to build cross-sectoral partnerships and networks. The project team collaborated with the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) and its 20 retailer and manufacturer members to trial consumer interventions that incentivise healthy eating.

The awards review panel said: “This is a brilliant achievement, developing partnership from such different professional areas and finding a common language.”

Dr Michelle Morris, Associate Professor in Nutrition and Lifestyle Analytics at Leeds, said: “We’re delighted to receive this award in recognition of our work.  

“Using data for public good is at the core of the work we do, and we believe having strong networks and partnerships is essential to making a real world difference. Partnerships like this take years to develop and have been successful due to the commitment, enthusiasm and shared values of a large team, including our external stakeholders. The award is so special as it reflects the strength of this way of working and it meant a lot to be able to celebrate success together.” 

Other team members included Dr Victoria Jenneson, Dr Stephen Clark, Diogo Ann Onuselogu, Alexandra Dalton, Francesca Pontin, Hannah Skeggs, Becky Shute, Paul Evans and Dr Emily Ennis.

Research Culture and Engaged for Impact Awards profiles. August 2022

Professor Nick Plant, Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation (left), and Chancellor, Professor Dame Jane Francis (right), with winners of the ‘Building Partnerships and Networks’ award

Positive impact

This ‘Collegiate and Supportive Environment’ award recognises contributions made to create a collegiate research environment, within or beyond immediate research groups or services. It rewards efforts to support the wellbeing of others, creating inclusive teams and examples of inspirational leadership.

The winning project in this category was led by the Leeds Institute of Health Science (LIHS), which created PhD DISCOs – a vibrant and bespoke forum for postgraduate researchers. A highly valued section of the University community, postgraduate researchers lead unique projects, but are often alone to face the challenges that come with conducting innovative research. DISCOs seek to address this issue by providing space for mutual support, skills development, output opportunities and scholarly conversations in a learning environment.

The awards review panel said: “This is a great initiative, which has created a supportive environment for postgraduate researchers. It’s impressive they do this on top of any postgraduate work. There’s a good opportunity for this to be an impactful, long-term intervention.”

Francis Poitier, a postgraduate researcher at the Nuffield Centre for International Health and Development at Leeds, said: “Winning an award such as this, at this level, goes a long way in recognising the potential and excellence of our vibrant postgraduate researcher community. We hope our intervention can also be used to positively impact the postgraduate researcher experience in other schools.” 

Nichola Jones, a research fellow at the Nuffield Centre, added: “We felt it was important to create spaces for postgraduate researchers to come together, especially during the pandemic when working from home made connecting with each other more challenging. 

“It’s wonderful to have the University recognise the value of our sessions, and we hope the DISCOs live on for many years to come.” 

Other team members were Anam Ayaz-Shah, William Goodman, Maisie Martland and Dr Rebecca Beeken.

Research Culture and Engaged for Impact Awards profiles. August 2022

Chancellor, Professor Dame Jane Francis (left), and Professor Nick Plant, Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation (right), present the ‘Collegiate and Supportive Environment’ award to Francis Poitier

Courageous initiatives

At the heart of the University’s 10-year strategy is the commitment to recognise the value of everyone involved in delivering research, focusing not only on individual academic achievement but also on teamwork. All members of our research community have a role to play in developing and promoting a positive and inclusive research culture, as well as contributing to the impact our research makes locally, nationally and internationally. 

Professor Cat Davies, Dean for Research Culture, said: “These awards celebrate colleagues who are working to make our research culture more collaborative, inclusive, open, supportive and sustainable. 

“The applications we received involved a total of 162 people, covering 16 schools/services, five faculties and nine centres and institutes, demonstrating some truly courageous initiatives to achieve better ways of working. 

“I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to engage in these projects, and for submitting applications at a time of significant workload. It’s also been a chance for us to share our activities with colleagues outside of the University, as our external reviewer panel lent their time and expertise in assessing an inspirational field of applications.”

Dr Alexa Ruppertsberg, Head of Public Engagement with Research, said: “Without the collaborative effort of our working group that developed these awards for almost a year, and without the generosity of our external reviewer panel, we would not be able to celebrate the fantastic engaged research for impact practice at the University. Everybody who submitted an application should be proud of their work!”

Wonderful community

As part of our Fairer future for all initiative, we promised to do more to recognise and celebrate the achievements of our wonderful community of colleagues. 

During the next six months, our new campaign – Further Together – will showcase the achievements of many of those involved in delivering our transformational, fundamental and challenge-led research. 

We hope Further Together will inspire our entire community to get involved in helping transform lives and make a real difference across the globe, and these awards signify the start of that campaign.

Further information

In-depth profiles of each of the Research Culture and Engaged for Impact Awards winners will appear on the For Staff website during the coming weeks. These will also be promoted via the weekly All Staff enewsletters and the Staff Twitter account. And watch out for the latest updates about Further Together across these channels.

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