Vice-Chancellor’s awards showcase impact and engagement during pandemic

Academics, students and professional members of staff from across the University have been recognised in this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Research Impact and Engagement Awards for their work in areas including COVID-19 testing, PPE production and online engagement.

These awards celebrate research that best demonstrates social, cultural and economic impact through engagement

Stephen Toope

Now in their fifth year, the awards were made in five categories: collaboration, early career, established academic, professional service, online and remote.

The winners of the collaboration category are Dr Michael Weekes from Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, and Dr Steven Baker from Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease. They collaborated to establish a comprehensive rapid turn-around COVID-19 testing platform for Cambridge University Hospitals healthcare workers, University staff and students.

The newly-established ‘online and remote engagement’ award goes to Dr Michael Ramage and team from the Department of Architecture for their HappyShield project. This involved developing, testing, and disseminating a novel open-source medical face shield to help tackle severe PPE shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, focussing in particular on production in Low and Middle Income Countries.

The winner of the early career researcher award is Chioma Achi from the Department of Veterinary Medicine. Achi organised an engagement programme across Nigeria to strengthen the participation of poultry farmers in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

The winner of the established researcher award is Dr Duncan Astle from the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit. Working in partnership with children’s charities, local education authorities, academy chains and local schools, Astle led an engagement programme providing teachers with robust evidence to help young people overcome cognitive and behavioural barriers to learning.

The winner of the professional services award is Dr Rosalyn Wade from the Museum of Zoology. Wade reimagined the Museum’s learning and public programme following COVID-19 lockdown and the venue’s temporary closure. She designed and released a new blog and developed an innovative online festival (Zoology Live!).

The awards were announced on 5th October by the University’s Public Engagement team on Twitter.

Professor Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, says:

“The University’s mission is to contribute to society. One of the ways we do it is by undertaking research with real social, cultural and economic impact.

“These awards celebrate research that best demonstrates social, cultural and economic impact through engagement. From advances in healthcare and industrial processes, to rapid responses to the global pandemic; from cultural activities that recognise diversity in our societies, to new knowledge that improves teaching and increases social mobility. This year’s panel of judges was inspired and uplifted by the quality of applications.”

The Vice-Chancellor’s Research Impact and Engagement Awards were established to recognise and reward outstanding achievement, innovation and creativity in devising and implementing ambitious engagement and impact plans that have the potential to create significant economic, social and cultural impact from and engagement with and for research. Each winner is offered a bursary to support their project.

This year’s winners and runners up are:

Established Academic Award

Winner: Dr Duncan Astle (MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, School of Clinical Medicine) – Breaking barriers to learning in the classroom

Runners up: Dr Joseph Webster (Faculty of Divinity, School of Arts and Humanities) – Sectarianism in Scotland and the repeal of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act

Professor Peter Hutchinson (with Professor David Menon) (Clinical Neurosciences / Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine) – Reshaping the treatment of traumatic brain injury

Early Career Researcher Award

Winner: Chioma Achi (Department of Veterinary Medicine, School of Biological Sciences) – Strengthening participation of poultry farmers in the fight against antimicrobial resistance

Runners up: Emma Soneson (Department of Psychiatry, School of Clinical Medicine) – Public health approaches to identifying and responding to mental health difficulties in children and young people

Dr Naures Atto (Asian and Middle Eastern Studies/Middle Eastern Studies, School of Arts and Humanities) – Endangered Middle Eastern Cultures and their Vulnerability in Migration Contexts

Dr Nicki Kindersley (Faculty of History, School of Humanities and Social Sciences) – Militarised political economies in South Sudan

Professional Services Award

Winner: Dr Rosalyn Wade (Museum of Zoology, School of Biological Sciences) – Learning and Public Programme of the Museum of Zoology: blending contemporary zoological research with active and online learning experiences for public audiences

Collaboration Award

Winner: Dr Michael Weekes and Dr Steven Baker (Cambridge Institute for Medical Research / Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease, School of Clinical Medicine) – A comprehensive COVID-19 screening programme for Cambridge University Hospitals healthcare workers, Cambridge University staff and students

Runners up: Dr Victoria Avery, Dr Melissa Calaresu and Dr Miranda Stearn (Fitzwilliam Museum / Faculty of History / Fitzwilliam Museum) – Feast & Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500-1800 Research Project

Online and Remote Engagement Award

Winner: Dr Michael Ramage and team (Department of Architecture, School of Arts and Humanities) – The HappyShield

Runners up: Centre for Geopolitics (Department of Politics and International Studies, School of Humanities and Social Sciences) – Centre for Geopolitics Coronavirus Response

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