RSE Public Engagement Prize for Professor Nicola Stanley-Wall
Published on 11 October 2022
A University of Dundee researcher who has amazed thousands of children with tales of the microbial fiesta taking place on their hands has been recognised for her commitment to making science accessible to the public.
The RSE is Scotland’s National Academy and the highly prestigious medals it awards recognise exceptional achievement in science, academia, and public engagement.
Professor Stanley-Wall has been awarded the prize for her long-standing and sustained track-record of outstanding contribution to public engagement in the field of microbiology. She has directly engaged members of the public with her own research speciality, including through the ‘Magnificent Microbes’ programme that welcomes school groups and families for a fun, hands-on exploration of microbes.
“Children are always gobsmacked when they learn about the huge number of microbes on their hands, so I was encouraging them to wash them properly long before Covid came on the scene,” she said. “I enjoy working with kids because they are full of questions, and we want to encourage them to keep asking them throughout their lives.
“I am delighted to win this award because I think it is critical for science to be explained in a way that the public understands to enable them to make informed decisions about their lives. Receiving this award is therefore wonderful recognition for something that I have dedicated much of my career to.”
Professor Stanley-Wall’s research centres on using molecular biology and biochemistry to understand how bacteria build multicellular communities called biofilms. In addition to her research, Professor Stanley-Wall and her team actively engages in outreach activities with both school age children and members of the public.
She is currently Academic Lead for Public Engagement in the School of Life Sciences, and led the School to become the first faculty in the country to be awarded a Gold Engage Watermark by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement.
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