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Public Engagement Awards

Our Centre held its first Public Engagement Awards in 2019 to recognise and reward public engagement by staff.

These awards celebrate the centre’s public engagement activity over the past year and name those who have been especially instrumental in their efforts.

The aim of this initiative is to support a culture of public engagement that is embedded into practice and valued by staff; giving support, encouragement and recognition of staff achievement.

All researchers and support staff within the Centre are eligible for the awards, to reflect that public engagement can be contributed to by everyone.

The ceremony presented a total of five awards; two Rising Stars in Public Engagement, one Excellence in Public Engagement, an Outstanding Public Engagement Project and a Steering Committee Honorary Award.

The Rising Star Award recognised Dr Andrew McWilliams who helped to develop the MetaLab’s Metacog Mission project through developing a public-facing app. He led a team of researchers to host an interactive stall at the Tate Modern’s Self-Impressions event in March 2018 which provided important road-testing and improvement opportunities for the app.

Since there were so many good candidates to choose from, Dr Tim Tierney was also crowned a Rising Star. As a postdoctoral researcher in Gareth Barnes’ MEG lab, Tim plays a crucial role in public engagement events that range from inset days to an upcoming large scale collaborative engagement project with Young Epilepsy.

Nobody was surprised to see the Excellence in Public Engagement Award go to Rachel Bedder for her work as lead scientist on Dear World Project. With a background in art and science engagement projects, Rachel is a stand-out contributor to our Centre’s PE programme whilst she studies for her PhD at the Rutledge Lab, at Max Planck Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research. The PLORAS research group were delighted to accept the Outstanding Public Engagement project prize for their work over the year on workshops, talks and activities though Aphasia workshops, UCL World Stroke Day Forum and the centre’s In2science programme.

The final surprise of the ceremony was an extra, unadvertised award for someone who has gone above and beyond for Public Engagement time and again; this Honorary Award went to David Bradbury, Lab Manager and all round hero at the Centre. As the person who co-ordinated public engagement at our Centre before a formal team existed, David both laid the foundations for public engagement here and continues to work tirelessly to ensure that the current PE team can fulfill their role.

Following the presentations, everyone at the Centre was invited to join for drinks and canapés to celebrate the contribution of  everyone towards a very successful year of public engagement.

Read more about our award winners here:

Dr Andrew McWilliams – Rising Star Award

Dr Tim Tierney – Rising Star Award

Rachel Bedder – Excellence in Public Engagement Award

PLORAS – Oustanding Public Engagement Project Prize

David Bradbury – Steering Committee Honorary Award


The prizes recognise individual growth, individual achievement and collaborative effort and are as follows:

Rising Star Award

  • A staff member who has shown outstanding promise and attitude towards public engagement.
  • This award is aimed at recognising those who are increasingly embracing public engagement within their practice.
  • Their activity might be nascent or developing, but their enthusiasm and understanding show great future potential.
  • This award congratulates individual effort and progress and incentivises continuing work on public engagement projects.

Excellence in Engagement

  • A staff member who has played a key role in engagement work, including demonstrating a strong understanding of public engagement in research.
  • This award recognises those who show, thorough understanding and appreciation of public engagement, and apply this in ways which feed into and progress their work.
  • Their activity will be thoroughly considered and planned with effective evaluation that demonstrates impact. This award congratulates individual effort and achievement and encourages awardees to spread their understanding and application of public engagement among their colleagues, team and wider community.

Outstanding Engagement Project

  • An entire engagement project which aligns with the vision and aims of the Centre’s PE strategy.
  • This award recognises a research group or collection of individuals who have delivered, or are delivering, an outstanding engagement project.
  • The activity of the project demonstrates two-way engagement with the Centre’s target audiences, and the impact of the project is clearly evaluated and corresponds to the vision and aims of the Public Engagement Strategy.
  • This award recognises the importance of collaboration in realising public engagement projects and incentivises sharing and teamwork to develop practice.

The awardees are decided by the Public Engagement Steering Committee.