Engagement Fellowships: people we've funded
University of Liverpool
There are often misleading reports about drug use, for example confusing messages about alcohol’s health benefits and the link between cannabis use and schizophrenia. Given the complex interplay between genetic and environmental factors and the biological effects of various drugs, there’s a lot of opportunity to use the topic to stimulate discussions about health research.
I will use a person-centred approach to break down barriers that prevent people from engaging with science. I will use stories about the science of recreational drugs to inform people about scientific studies and observational epidemiology and how data from them can be interpreted. I want people to be able to look at news stories about health research and feel confident to interpret the evidence. Cultural commentators should not wear scientific ignorance as a badge of honour. If people are able to interpret the evidence for themselves, health scares would struggle to gain traction and people will be able to make more informed choices about health and behaviour.
Many African states, including Botswana, have pledged to transform from resource-based to knowledge-based economies. Science research and development can help this transformation. A better understanding of science and increased participation brings better livelihoods, improved economic conditions and improved health policies. There are challenges that hinder public engagement efforts and African governments, business communities and African people do not fully participate in science development.
I want to encourage an improved culture of science in Africa by encouraging participation from stakeholders and community groups. I want to demonstrate that involvement in research has benefits to society. In the process of creating strong science ecosystems, technology, culture, arts and creative industries must form the engagement policy agenda. Engagement will be inclusive and sensitive to people’s perspectives, and new technology, such as mobile apps, will be used to strengthen engagement.
This approach can change the public's experience and interaction with science, and more importantly health sciences.
University of Liverpool
Instead of recognising the value of disabled people in the UK, vital support services are being cut and medical research and genetic engineering aim to eradicate disabilities altogether.
The more we see value in disability and diversity, the less we will try and eradicate disabilities with medical technology. Researchers should engage with people with the conditions they are investigating, but It is difficult to engage and integrate a community when efforts are being made to ensure no one is ever born like them in the future. How can society celebrate diversity and try to end it at the same time? The moral questions are complex and fascinating.
I intend to explore disability and the morality of medical efforts to engineer it out of existence. I will engage disabled people and medical researchers, and look at my own life as a disabled person. I will connect lived experience with medical research to meet the challenge of inclusivity. My vision for the future is one of full inclusivity for disabled people in education, employment and all areas of society.
Sara will use her fellowship to explore how comic creators, biomedical scientists, medical humanities experts and comic audiences can interact, with the hope of inspiring and empowering people from traditionally different worlds. Sara is an experienced broadcaster and comic creator. She has previously produced a comic, Surgeon X, and a short film, Angels and Ghosts, both funded by Wellcome.
Alok aims to use his fellowship to experiment with technology and reimagine models of science journalism. Alok is a journalist, author and broadcaster. He has worked as a science correspondent for over 15 years and written several popular science books. He also founded and has presented the Guardian’s award-winning Science Weekly podcast.
Anita wants to use her fellowship to continue her exploration of how science can be driven by social justice and powered by inclusive, equitable and culturally relevant research. She is a community engagement consultant and Director of Community Perspectives, an emerging organisation dedicated to creating equity within and through STEM.
African Population and Health Research Centre, Kenya
Elizabeth is a research scientist in child nutrition. Her fellowship will focus on public engagement around the right to food and nutrition, particularly for the urban poor and other vulnerable populations in Kenya and Africa. She hopes her project will empower communities with agency and dignity.
Nabeel, experienced participatory and collaborative facilitator, will use his fellowship to challenge existing biomedical engagement practice and to develop community participation in science in South Africa. He will focus on developing inclusive collaborations and co-design processes with street arts to make science more accessible and relatable.
Queen Mary University of London
Artist and Professor of Contemporary Performance
Lois plans to experiment and create comfortable spaces for public discussion, such as Long Tables and Porch Sittings, which resist hierarchies, foster inclusion and value lived experience as expertise.
University of Sussex
Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience
Anil aims to use his fellowship to explore new ways of combining cutting-edge research into the biological basis of consciousness with innovative approaches to public involvement.
Jessica Thom and Matthew Pountney
Jessica Thom and Matthew Pountney co-founded Touretteshero in 2010 as a creative response to Jess's experience of living with Tourette's syndrome. They plan to work with centres for disability studies, and run a series of creative exchanges bringing together people with professional, scientific and learned experiences. Their fellowship will inform new collaborative performance and participatory artworks. They hope these will stimulate debate and help to turn assumptions about disability into constructive conversations.
Engagement practitioner and comedian
Steve is a veteran public engagement practitioner who has worked in science centres, museums and charities and as Head of Public Engagement at UCL. He’s the founder of Bright Club, the national network of academic research comedy events, and Science Showoff, a travelling chaotic science comedy cabaret. As an Engagement Fellow he’ll be looking at how new communities of engagement can be built across the UK, using comedy as a nucleating centre.
Academic and theatre practitioner
Delia is currently a Patient and Public Involvement Officer at the University of Leeds. She originally studied acting and continues to work as a freelance performer and theatre practitioner. She has used performance techniques in several engagement projects – for example, using role-play and video to help collaborative data analysis. Through her fellowship, Delia will examine the links between public involvement and public engagement. She plans to focus on the use of applied performance techniques to facilitate public involvement in health research.
Engagement practitioner and researcher
Bella’s Engagement Fellowship will explore how public engagement contributes to citizenship, civic life and social capital. By working with people who have been interested in biomedical science from all walks of life and in various settings, her work will focus on understanding the social outcomes of public engagement to ultimately support public engagement practice as a catalyst for social change.
Visual artist and producer
Alex plans to use the Fellowship to create projects that investigate the spaces in-between the public experience of healthcare and the language of policy. Bringing art, architecture and science together she aims to connect opinion and experience in unexpected ways.
Brian plans on expanding his work on patient experience through new performance work and expansion of previous projects. Brian will attend medical school and observe other trainings in hopes of discovering ways for patient experience to feedback into medical care, health policy and scientific research. Brian's work is particularly focused on the relationship (emotional, linguistic, social) between cancer and other serious illnesses, chronic conditions and disability.
How can we double the impact of a Science Centre visit? In order to provide engaging, relevant and connected experiences that will nurture a long-term relationship with science, we must reach out beyond the science centre building. This Fellowship creates the opportunity to think strategically at a national level and to work with leading engagement professionals in the UK and beyond.
Working to increase the scope and effectiveness of what science communication can offer.
Plans to use the Fellowship to encourage people to think about how scientific and artistic endeavour derive from common ground, how artists are precise and scientists are imaginative, and how looking at the same question from different angles – using different equipment, concepts and vocabularies – can enrich and illuminate a subject.
Aiming to explore the role of science engagement in his practice and to initiate a series of projects that examine the limits of cross-disciplinary collaboration.
Dr Erinma Ochu
Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester
Aimed to explore innovative ways to embed biomedical science in people’s everyday lives. She will investigate how ‘citizen science’ – science carried out by the public – can contribute to biomedical research challenges.
Professor of Surgical Education at Imperial College London
Planned to use his Fellowship to build on his passion for education and for communicating and exploring new ideas. In particular, he will look at how his field of surgery overlaps with the worlds of art, performance and craftsmanship.
Historian and Sick City Project
Used the Fellowship to develop inspiring outreach projects in a range of media, to establish a community of students with experience and enthusiasm in engagement, and to promote engagement as part of every academic career in the medical humanities.
Consultant anaesthetist at University College London Hospital and TV presenter
Used the opportunity to immerse himself in the world of science communication, with the flexibility to participate and experiment in a wide range of projects. The Fellowship freed him from regular clinical duties, providing the time to develop his existing skills in science communication and to experiment with newer forms of communication.