Award-winning public engagement at UCL

The UCL Provost's Public Engagement Awards celebrated staff, students and community partners at the university's dazzling ceremony in June 2018. 

Seven award-winning projects illustrate UCL’s distinctive approach to public engagement. Read on to find out what made these submissions stand-out and get an idea of UCL's outstanding and collaborative work with the wider public.

Drumroll please...

Perspex trophies of all seven PEU awards

Community Award
Athena Lamnisos & Angus MacLennan

Woman using pipette to prepare medical tests
The Eve Appeal was set up with one ambitious yet simple vision: a future where fewer women develop and more women survive gynaecological cancers.

Grown and developed in parallel with its core research team the Department of Women’s Cancer at UCL, The Eve Appeal is the only UK national charity raising awareness and funding research in five women-only cancers. Their work takes place in an impressive 31 institutions across 15 countries and conducts ground-breaking research in risk prediction, early detection and screening.

The charity has not only played a crucial role in providing seed funding, core infrastructure funding and project funding, but
 campaigns to raise awareness of women-specific cancers. Their work shares the impact of UCL’s activities to the wider world via multiple outlets, resulting in benefits for higher education, research and the public. The Eve Appeal has enabled the UCL Department of Women’s Cancer to relentlessly pursue its mission of reducing the burden of women’s cancer and to maximise the impact of UCL research on society.


Early Career Researcher Award
Andrea Rigon

View across informal settlement in Sierra Leone

Andrea co-founded the Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC) in a partnership between UCL, Njala University and civil society organisations. Their aim is to achieve equitable urban development in Sierra Leone with a focus on the wellbeing of the residents of informal settlements.

This area of Sierra Leone is home to some of the most vulnerable people in the world. SLURC gives members of the population who were previously unheard a voice, to implement real change in their communities at government level. To do this, Andrea and his team brought together and trained local actors, facilitating dialogue between communities and government staff, NGO professionals and researchers.

To date, SLURC's activities have contributed to a national demand for urban transformation and helped shift perceptions of informal settlements. A local network of people living in run-down housing has been given the tools to implement change where it's needed most. Andrea's work continues to maximise the opportunity for UCL staff to contribute to the wellbeing of the urban poor in Sierra Leone by facilitating further conversations between Development NGO professionals and students.


Established Award
Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh

Elena speaking into a microphone
Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh’s research examines conflict-induced displacement in the Middle East. She is currently leading four major externally-funded research projects exploring the experiences of and responses to displacement in this region.

All Elena’s work has strong public engagement and policy components. These include the creation of online ‘communities of conversation’ - a collaboration with locally-based researchers who have themselves been affected by conflict and displacement - and the co-creation of knowledge with national and international policymakers themselves.

Deeply committed to joint learning and engaging, Elena co-creates research via open access platforms, leads collaborative learning initiatives and even produces multilingual policy briefings to promote social justice for refugees. Elena is also the director of the UCL Refugee in a Moving World network which encourages the university to develop strategies to support communities affected by displacement, including refugee students and academics.


Institutional Leadership Award
Extreme Citizen Science research group

Excites citizen science project
ExCiteS (the Extreme Citizen Science Research) group was created in 2011 by Prof Muki Haklay, Dr Jerome Lewis and Dr Claire Ellul. Their work in community engagement started back in 1998, and today their work enables individuals to run their own Citizen Science research projects. The ‘Extreme’ part of the name demonstrates that these methods have both local and global applicability and scope.

With an interdisciplinary approach, ExCiteS aims to provide any user, regardless of their background or literacy level, with a set of tools that can be used to collect, analyse and act on information according to agreed scientific methods. With these skills and methods in place, anyone can run their own Citizen Science project to deal with issues that concern them.

The projects supported by ExCiteS range from helping indigenous groups in the Congo basin to protect themselves from the threat of commercial poachers, to empowering local London communities to monitor air quality. We’re looking forward to seeing what they work on next.


Professional Services Staff Award 
Annabelle South

Woman drawing diagram on wall
Annabelle’s extraordinary level of commitment to patients and public groups in the cancer and infections research field makes her an award-winner this year.

Annabelle works with the Medical Research Council (MRC) Clinical Trials Unit on a wide range of clinical trials in the UK and Africa, including treatments for cancer, HIV and tuberculosis. Responsible for a portfolio of innovative and creative approaches to public engagement she is the friendly face of UCL clinical research in what can sometimes be a daunting process for patients.

In 2016, in a partnership project with Cancer Research UK, Annabelle ran a series of roadshows around the UK for prostate cancer patients and their loved ones. The roadshows provided an important opportunity for patients and the public to speak directly to UCL clinical researchers. Annabelle's work enables researchers to better meet the needs of patients through communication platforms, and helps to ensure that patients, their families and society know how important a contribution to science they are making by being part of a clinical trial.


Student Award
Nicola Antaki

View over child's shoulder as he uses coloured pens to draw onto white fabric
Nicola Antaki's doctoral research combines interdisciplinary practices of pedagogy and design. A practising architect, she has developed an innovative teaching method entitled ‘A Learning Architecture’, enabling school children to redesign their environment. 

Nicola’s research, situated in Mumbai since 2011, centres around a sustained collaboration with the same group of primary school children in an informal settlement. Forming the central part of her doctoral research, this project has been an ongoing co-design project bringing together architectural design and local craft to help children become active citizens.

The project came together for an exhibition of the children’s work, curated and designed through workshops and a series of events. Significantly, due to Nicola’s long-term and intimate engagement with these communities and the ongoing success of her work, the school integrated her project principles into the school curriculum and has decided to continue to include more active design in art and craft sessions.


Team Award
Know Your Normal - Dr Laura Crane, Fern Adams, Georgia Harper, Jack Welch and Prof Liz Pellicano

CRAE and Ambitious about Autism
Know Your Normal is a campaign led by a team of young autistic people from the charity Ambitious about Autism, with academics from UCL. Their work focuses on supporting young autistic people to identify what’s ‘normal’ for them when it comes to their own mental health, and to empower them to seek help if/when their 'normal' changes.

UCL academics Laura Crane, Senior Lecturer at UCL Institute of Education and Deputy Director of the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE), and Liz Pellicano, now Professor of Autism Education at Macquarie University, Sydney worked in partnership with three young people from the charity - Fern Adams, Georgia Harper and Jack Welch. Together they designed the research, collected data, interpreted the results, and disseminated the findings in an accessible report.

Informed by the success of this project CRAE will embed collaborative public engagement within their long term strategy.


Find out more
Click here to discover the history and achievements of the UCL Public Engagement Unit.

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