Celebrating successful change and innovation

Developing innovative ideas to enable world-changing research has resulted in official recognition for two highly successful projects.

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 ‘Responsible Research and Innovation’ and ‘Finding a Better Way’ awards.

Significant impact

The ‘Responsible Research and Innovation’ award recognises the importance of responsible research practices, and rewards efforts to place integrity at the core of our work, ensuring it’s trustworthy, ethical, honest, rigorous, respectful and accountable.

The winners of this category have made a significant impact on one of the most problematic and tenacious aspects of research culture: the reliance on misleading quantitative metrics. 

The Responsible Research Metrics Group (RRMG) provides exemplary leadership of, and champions, the responsible use of research metrics. In its short existence, the committee has collected and analysed survey data on responsible metrics from the University community; developed and published a position statement; and provided training for recruitment, assessment and reward processes. It has successfully lobbied senior leadership for support, informed institutional key performance indicators (KPIs) and provided expert advice for Research Excellence Framework (REF) processes.

Liz Neilly, Library Research Support Manager, said: “The opportunity to be part of a highly effective academic and professional service partnership, to challenge legacy and support positive research culture through awareness raising and practical support, has already been so gratifying. To be recognised for our efforts through this award adds another level of satisfaction.”

Other team members included Claire Knowles, Alistair Knock, Professor Simon Ball, Dr Emma Spary, Dr Ged Hall, Sally Dalton, Rebecca Fleming, Dr Barbara Lancho-Barrantes, Professor Yingqi (Annie) Wei, Tina Egan, Jo Squires and Professor Alan Haywood.

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), present the ‘Responsible Research and Innovation’ award to Ged Hall, on behalf of the winning team

Multidisciplinary expertise

The ‘Finding a Better Way’ award recognises all the ways in which new thinking and acting, new products and knowledge, lead to creating and galvanising change and innovation. 

The winning project in this category harnessed the multidisciplinary expertise of microbiology, engineering and clinical dentistry to provide practical, evidence-based solutions to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 during dental treatments. The team of clinicians, researchers and technicians from the Schools of Dentistry and Civil Engineering found replacing conventional high-speed dental drills with electric ones dramatically decreases the generation of aerosols and creates a far safer environment for treating patients.

Their findings ultimately secured private discussions with the Chief Dental Officer and an MP to inform future policy decisions. 

Jon Vernon, a Research Assistant in the School of Dentistry, said: “We will use this award to continue to promote to dentists ways they can mitigate the risks of COVID-19 in their routine clinical practice. In fact, since submitting our award application, our research has already informed updated UK Infection Prevention Control Guidance.” 

Other team members included Professor David Wood, Professor Brian Nattress, Emma Black, Professor Deirdre Devine, Dr Louise Fletcher, Paula Lancaster and Tom Dennis.

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 ‘Finding A Better Way’ award

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.

Posted in: