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Congratualtions to Professor Lorna Dougan on being awarded the British Biophysical Society Elspeth Garman Prize for Public Engagement

Research Highlights

Professor Lorna Dougan has been awarded the British Biophysical Society Elspeth Garman Prize for Public Engagement for her pioneering work in developing and delivering creative public engagement resources to diverse communities. The prize is awarded every two years and recognises excellence in biological physics engagement. Biophysics is a vibrant scientific field, with world leading activity at the University of Leeds where the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology brings together scientists from many disciplines to use their skills to explore and develop new tools for understanding how all life works. Lorna has led innovative projects at Leeds to share the creativity of scientific research and engage a wider community with the creative process. For example, in the SAWstitch project Lorna, along with collaborators PhD students Christa Brown and Kalila Cook, and colleague Paul Beales, developed an activity that embraces creative thinking to explore self-avoiding walks through the medium of hand embroidery. Self-avoiding walks are used to study biological networks and have provided inspiration to scientists, artists and designers. Lorna’s team developed resources to introduce the physics of self-avoiding walks and a discovery-led activity which uses materials from hand embroidery to explore these concepts. The project has been published in the Institute of Physics journal Physics Education, and with the support of the wonderful University of Leeds public engagement team, the Maker kits have been shared with 300 families in the Leeds and Bradford area, around 300 students in local schools and with over 100 members of the public (nationally and internationally). The embroidery has formed part of a Gallery of Soft Matter at the American Physical Society annual meeting in Chicago in March 2022, which attracted 12,000 physicists through an in person and virtual platform. Lorna’s public engagement activities are supported by a Royal Academy Engineering Ingenious Public Engagement award and an EPSRC public engagement champion grant.

Read "SAWstitch: exploring self-avoiding walks through hand embroidery" on the IOP website.