Public Engagement Fellows

Dr Geraint Jones

Dr Geraint Jones

Planet Doodle

Planet Doodle will present the science of the planets and space to the general public through the medium of cartoons. The cartoon strips will enthuse, explain and inform readers of many aspects of planetary and space science, as well as the research techniques used in these fields.



Dr Helen Mason

Dr Helen Mason

Sun|trek : Here Comes the Sun

Helen’s project will capitalise on her diverse range of current activities to develop a lasting legacy of her work with schools.

The main objective is to inspire students to engage with science activities, with a view to exciting their scientific curiosity through cross-curricular activities and fostering a long lasting interest in science.

A set of five focussed resources about the Sun will be developed and delivered. These will be hosted on the Sun|trek website and promoted widely in the education sector.



Dr Chris North
(Credit: Swansea University)

Dr Chris North

The Dawn of Gravitational Wave Astronomy

On 14th September 2015 the LIGO experiment made the first ever direct detection of gravitational waves – the last unverified prediction of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. This marked the dawn of gravitational wave astronomy.

Chris will use his fellowship to develop and deliver educational resources for teachers across the UK to assist with covering LIGO and gravitational waves in lessons. There will also be a series of student masterclasses and workshops. An online app illustrating the workings of a gravitational waves observatory and an interactive, mechanical ‘Lego LIGO’ for use in events and exhibitions, will also be produced.



Dr Kathy Romer
(Credit: Travis Hodges)

Dr Kathy Romer

The Dark Energy Survey: Education and Public Outreach

The Dark Energy Survey (DES) is currently the leading ground-based cosmology experiment. DES is a six year study of the southern sky that will test cosmology to unprecedented precision, using a 520 mega-pixel digital camera mounted on the 4m Blanco optical telescope in Chile. As well as the impact on cosmology, DES will also generate a wealth of discoveries in other areas, such as objects in the distant solar system and distant black holes.

Kathy will use her Fellowship to promote and develop understanding of the Dark Energy Survey to existing engaged audiences and new ones, such as schools.

Kathy will also act as a champion for wider STFC science, particularly in the context of STFC’s support for gender equality in STEM, including the STFC-funded ‘Soapbox Science’ initiative.



Dr Roberto Trotta

Dr Roberto Trotta Imperial College London

The Hands-on Universe - Innovative ways of using your senses to make sense of the Universe

Cosmology and astrophysics address some of the most fundamental and universally fascinating questions in the whole of science: Where did the Universe come from? What is it made of? What will its ultimate fate be? The study of the Universe is inspiring, humbling and in short one of the greatest scientific challenges of humankind.

But by its nature the cosmos is also far removed from our everyday experience. This is part of its mystery and fascination, but it can also become a hurdle when trying to engage the public in a genuine, two-way dialogue. The aim of my fellowship is to create and deliver innovative methods of transcending the old model of top-down communication of science. Better awareness, more genuine engagement and reaching out to a much wider and diverse cross-section of society will be the resulting benefits.

The Hands-on Universe will link the big questions in cosmology and astrophysics with everyday experiences, metaphorically, conceptually, artistically and emotionally. What is the Universe made of? How did it begin? How will it end? What is the nature of reality? How does science work? I will create immersive, participative experiences revolving around those and other questions, by using do-it-yourself activities, cookery and other fun, unexpected ways of engaging with the great mysteries of the cosmos.



Professor Phil Manning

Professor Phil Manning University of Manchester

"Bright Lights and Dinosaurs"

Synchrotron-based imaging and x-ray microtomography (XRT) is revolutionising the study of fossils and has fuelled a new and rapidly developing area of science that unites many disciplines (including physics, chemistry, maths, engineering, geology to name a few). The application of 21st Century technology to unpicking the disjointed sentences that comprise the fossil record is now permitting scientists to reconstruct past worlds in higher fidelity. This new and exciting area of research is currently being explored by Phil Manning, from the School of Earth, Atmospheric & Environmental Science at the University of Manchester.

Phil's 'Bright Lights and Dinosaurs' project aims to use his research on synchrotron-based imaging and XRT of past life in order to help explain the methods and technologies used to study samples ranging from microbes to dinosaurs. Bright Lights and Dinosaurs aims to show how chemistry can define the origins, synthesis, function, and subsequent alterations/modifications of ancient molecules. The molecules that Phil and his team track down come from some of the most iconic species to have walked, swam, crawled, slithered, slimed, flown, or jumped on Earth. Phil likes nothing more than talking about his science or dragging the odd dinosaur bone out to schools, colleges or village fetes!




Dr Marc Sarzi
(Credit: Dr Marc Sarzi)

Dr Marc Sarzi University of Hertfordshire

"A Stargazing Opportunity for Half of England's Pupils"

Marc’s project aims to enthuse young people, in particular the pupils of state schools, about Astronomy and, more generally, science to encourage them to pursue an education into STEM subject areas.

The programmes aims to bring a memorable, exciting stargazing experience to as many pupils as possible as well as boosting teachers` in delivering this and other scientific subjects of the curriculum.

To achieve his goals, Marc will draw upon his experience at the Bayfordbury observatory of the University of Hertfordshire and tap into the capillary network of the Science Learning Centre Consortium (SLCC) for London, South-East and Central England, the head-quarters of which are also based at Bayfordbury, in order to mount nearly 40 stargazing events across an area that includes 47% of England's state schools.

Events will also feature talks, planetarium shows, laboratory experiments and computer activities. Marc will collaborate with, and involve, enthusiastic teachers in each of the regional areas. Local amateur astronomy groups will assist with the stargazing element of the events.

A single Deployable Open Evening package - most likely to be in the form of a tablet application - will be developed and will help teachers to continue to enthuse students about Astronomy, either in class or by organising their own stargazing event.

The most immediate objectives of the fellowship are:

  • successfully mount a large number of engaging stargazing events in regional areas encompassing nearly half of England's state schools develop the astronomical knowledge of local teachers and boost their confidence as science educators, by involving them in running these stargazing events and - most important - by providing them with a comprehensive set of well-documented and easily-deployable astronomical activities.
  • designing a Deployable Open Evening package where all such resources should be assembled, most likely in the form of a tablet application. This will constitute a real legacy of my programme, as it should help teachers delivering the Astronomy part of the curriculum and keep stirring the interest of pupils in this subject.

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000