Institute for Policy and Engagement
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Best Public Engagement Initiative

This award recognises an individual or team for a successful public engagement activity or initiative where public groups have benefitted from engagement with University of Nottingham research. Public engagement activity can range from outreach activities, to patient involvement, citizen science and collaborative research projects.



Dr Maddie Groom, Dr Jennifer Salvage, Dr Camilla Babbage, Bethan Davies - Medicine and Health Sciences

The team is nominated representing  a team of academics and lived experience experts and advocates who have worked together to lead an innovative co-produced research study investigating the experiences of people with tics and Tourette Syndrome (TS) trying to access healthcare in the UK. Through their project, they aimed to amplify their voices in the public domain and to policymakers. This project includes collaborative research and public engagement funded by the Institute of Policy and Public Engagement. The research comprised focus groups with adults and young people with tic disorders and parents/carers to explore their experiences of accessing UK healthcare for their/their child's tics, and the voices of consenting participants were used in an animation. As at March 2023, they have been contacted by a prominent MP who is interested in supporting the campaign. More on their work:


Dr Filippo Gilardi- Head of School of International Communication, UNNC

He is nominated alongside his colleagues in the Ningbo Social Science Research  Base in Internationalising Ningbo's Screen Industries for their engagement with the public, industry, government and research communities to create and develop a screen production culture in Ningbo. Partnered with the Ningbo Micro-film Association and Ningbo TV & Radio Bureau, the team has given concreate support to the development of Ningbo International Micro-film Festival since 2017, including inviting international participants, being the panel members, hosting international events on campus and creating a database at UNNC library to store all short film submitted for competition from 2022 onward. They have initialised the UNNC Scholar Documentaries Programme, in which students and practitioners created a series of documentaries based on UNNC scholars’ research and the general public can access them via a link from UNNC Library. Aiming to promote the city of Ningbo globally, an MoU between UNNC and the municipal government has been signed. More on their work:

Dr Tom Reader, Dr Francis Gilbert and Victoria Nolan (PhD) - School of Life Sciences

The team is nominated for their engagement with the Woodland Trust charity, a group of citizen scientists and the media to bring awareness of the abundance and ecological and historical importance of ancient and veteran trees in the UK.The researchers used an inventory of ancient UK trees previously created by The Woodland Trust to develop a series of mathematic models that predict where additional ancient and veteran trees might be distributed within the UK. A large group of volunteer citizen scientists was then engaged to survey random locations throughout the UK and record actual numbers of aRncient and veteran trees, providing the necessary empirical data to validate and refine the models. The estimates from the best-performing models predicted the existence of around two million ancient and veteran trees in the UK, a figure which is much higher than what is currently on record.The publication of this piece of work received an abundance of media attention, including radio, TV, 208 online articles, printed press and many other local web pieces and regional radio interviews. More on their work:

AHRC Nottingham City of Caves Team - Faculty of Arts

The team comprises Chris King, Richard Goddard, Anna Walas and Charlotte May, nominated for the City of Caves Project. Their work has reignited Nottingham’s public interest in their unique heritage asset and  established vital links and relationships with and between community groups and societies across the city. Through volunteer-led excavations, free public participatory workshops and an engagement festival attended by nearly 700 participants, the project ignited a previously dormant sense of pride in the city’s hidden heritage. The media coverage reached an international audience, including the US, Canada and Hong Kong, of close to 160 million with an advertising value equivalent to £1.4 million. The BBC coverage attracted 2000 likes on Facebook and nearly 1000 comments. It has established a culture of sharing data and enhancing access to heritage, and it led to the establishment of an intersectoral task group to further develop public engagement with caves. More on their work:




Professor Maiken Umbach

Professor Maiken Umbach is a professor of Modern History who combines cutting-edge historical work with interventions that make a difference in reality. She is nominated for two public engagement initiatives. The first is an AHRC-Funded project ‘Photography as Political Practice in National Socialism’ and associated follow-on projects, which included collaborations with curators and creative practitioners to develop new ways of visualizing the difficult history that is the Holocaust to foreground the experience and dignity of victims. Activities within the project include a film produced with the BBC to expose differences between the gaze of perpetrators and victims; and an exhibition with the National Holocaust Centre and Museum to sensitize audiences to the problem of perpetrator phtography, using a mixed reality experience.The second initiative is the use of two co-produced free MOOCs which ran from 2015 - 2020, as part of a collaboration with the British Library to empower learners on understanding the relationship between the personal and the political in the forming of ideologies. This engagement enabled the British Library to use new digital media strategically, and conveyed to citizens a sense of their own agency in the making of ideologies. Please follow this link to see their work 'Through Whose Eyes'.


Dr Heike Bartel

Dr Heike Bartel is an Associate Professor of German Studies at the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies. She is nominated for her interdisciplinary research on patient-centred narratives of eating disorders (EDs) in men and boys in literature and other media, which has transformed understanding of this complex illness and challenged existing stereotypes. Her AHRC and Wellcome funded 'Hungry for Words' brought together international humanities, scholars, medical experts, charities, carers and experts by experience to unlock new socio-cultural, medical, physchological, gendered, artistic and liteary perspectives of EDs in males. She won the 2021 Times Higher Education Award for Research Project of the Year (Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences). Some of their work is below:

Dr Sonali Shah

Dr Sonali Shah is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Rehabilitation and Ageing Research, School of Medicine, where she leads an NIHR project called Living Healthily with CP. She is nominated for using exciting approaches including theatre and life histories, she engages stakeholders with her work to bring an awareness of disability and social change to non-academic and young audiences, and provide a platform for disabled people to have a voice in the development of practices and policies which impact their lives. Some exerpts of her work are below:




Dr Helen McCabe and the Survivor Voices, Stories and Images team (Rights Lab), for their work empowering survivors of human trafficking to share their stories with the world.


  • Professor Christopher Gibbins, Dr Ir. Fang Yenn Teo and Yih Yoong Lip (Faculty of Science and Engineering, UNM) for their engagement with highlight communities to discover sustainable solutions for water-related issues at upper Trusan River, Sarawak
  • Dr Heike Bartel (School of Cultures, Language and Area Studies), for her work on eating disorders in men and boys



Professor Rory Cormac (School of Politics and International Relations), for their work on engaging the public with his research on Secret Intelligence and Covert Action through television and radio.


  • Professor Matt Brookes and the Quantum Sensing the Brain team (School of Physics), for their interactive and immersive exhibit showcasing research on human brain imaging
  • Professor Ellen Townsend and Professor Joanne Hort (School of Psychology), for their work on Cafe Connect, a plce to interact and engage with the public to generate new ideas for future research

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