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Awards Celebrate University Research That Connects with the Public

Research that connects the public with discoveries across the arts, sciences and social sciences was celebrated in a new awards ceremony where grant funding of more than £7,000 was announced to support nine new projects.

Child psychologists whose work aims to help reduce the risks of dog bites in families with young children were among the award winners at the inaugural Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Public Engagement in Research at the University of Lincoln, UK.

The international group of researchers behind the Blue Dog project won the Team Award category, which was presented during a conference showcasing the rich variety of research at Lincoln which engages members of the public.

The PEARL Conference featured speakers and presenters from across the University’s academic Colleges, detailing how people from across the local community and professional practice can get involved in developing academic research ideas, participating in studies as subjects or researchers, and sharing or acting upon research findings.

The event formed part of the Public Engagement for All with Research at Lincoln (PEARL) Project, funded by RCUK. Professor Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln, presented the awards.

Professor Carenza Lewis, Professor for the Public Understanding of Research at the University of Lincoln, said:

The conference and awards ceremony were an opportunity to celebrate some of the best examples of how our researchers engage the public in their work.

The individuals and organisations we work with are essential to ensuring our research is not only academically rigorous but also relevant and accessible to people outside academia.

That could be through involving people or partner organisations in identifying issues to study, as participants in research, or in the sharing of knowledge that emerges as a result.

There has been an amazing response from across the University to the PEARL Project and the event provided an excellent platform to share ideas and best practice as well as to kick-start several exciting new projects.

Led by Professor Kerstin Meints from Lincoln’s School of Psychology, the Blue Dog team have developed an interactive educational package for teachers, parents and young children that uses a cartoon dog to teach children about safe behaviours around pet dogs.

Staff Award winners included Professor Anne Chick from the Lincoln School of Design, whose research aims to enhance access for blind and partially sighted visitors to exhibitions at museums and galleries through inclusive design and curatorial practice; and Dr Niko Kargas from the School of Psychology, whose work aims to support people with autism and other ‘hidden disabilities’ in the employment market. The Student Award went to Stephen Lonsdale, an undergraduate from the School of History and Heritage, who worked with members of the public as volunteers on a major archaeological research project at a housing estate in Lincolnshire and later presented findings to the public at a major showcase event.

A series of new grants were also announced to enable researchers to develop research projects that will engage members of the public in research over the next 12 months. These include a scheme to introduce scientific concepts through storytelling in schools, events outlining how communities can work together to protect rural village pubs, and a study of people’s perceptions of sleep habits and how these affect health.

The University’s PEARL team is running a survey for members of the public to give their perspective on the opportunities to get involved in academic research at the University of Lincoln. To take part in the survey follow the link here. Alternatively, you can find more information on public engagement in research at Lincoln at: at: https://pearl.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk.

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