Oxford University Museum of Natural History and Oxford Neuroscience have won a Building Capacity Award in this year's Vice-Chancellor's Public Engagement with Research Awards, which celebrate public engagement work across the University. The announcement was made at an awards ceremony at the Museum of Natural History on 28 June hosted by Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson.
The award was given for the Museum of Natural History exhibition, Brain Diaries, developed in partnership with Oxford Neuroscience, and accompanied by a public event programme and online digital resources including an animation by Oxford Sparks
Brain Diaries is the latest and largest installment in the museum's Contemporary Science and Society series, enabling researchers at all career levels to leverage the museum's experience and skills in public engagement, while accessing the museum's publics to engage in their research.
Launched in March 2017, the programme and exhibition have reached an audience of more than 45,000 people from Oxfordshire and beyond in the first two months of opening. More than 150 research scientists from four University departments and over 20 support staff have contributed to Brain Diaries.
The exhibition presents current understanding of the healthy brain from pre-birth to old age, while the public programme explores translational and clinical neuroscience research. The exhibition also promotes active public participation in research, enabling visitors to take part in research studies and contribute new ideas for brain investigations. For blind and partially sighted vsitors, the museum has held hands-on tours of the exhibition using 3D-printed brains for a tactile experience.
The Vice-Chancellor's Public Engagement with Research Awards recognise and reward those at the University who undertake high-quality engagement activities and have contributed to building capacity in this area. Brain Diaries was one of three winners in the Building Capacity category of the awards.
Christopher Kennard, Head of Medical Sciences Division and Emeritus Professor of Clinical Neurology says:
"We all look forward to the opportunity to engage with the public through the museums. It is particularly useful for younger researchers to have to develop ways of conveying complex information and I know they always find it rewarding."
Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor says:
"I have been deeply impressed by the quality of the public engagement with research projects submitted for this year's award. The breadth and diversity of the activites taking place show how seriously the University takes its commitment to public engagement."
Professor Alison Woollard, the University's Academic Champion for Public Engagement with Research says:
"Public engagement enriches both research and society and the University is committed to enabling our researchers to inspire, consult and collaborate with the public. I'm delighted that we are able to recognise and highlight the fantastic work our researchers are doing and hope these awards encourage more colleagues across the University to carry out their own public engagement with research."
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