Each year, UEA recognises and encourages excellent practice by academics, staff and students from across UEA and Norwich Research Park in engaging the public with research. The Engagement Awards celebrate the crucial work taking place across these institutions in reaching new audiences and encouraging meaningful dialogue, expanding the impact of their research to local, national and international communities.

The Awards panel is made up of engagement champions from UEA, including previous award winners. There is no set number for awards given as each nomination is considered on its own merits. Nominations are welcomed from community partners and members of the public who have led or participated in UEA research projects, whether as co-researchers or event attendees. Self-nominations are also encouraged.

UEA Engagement Award Winners for 2021 

See the full list here


Types of activities include: 

  • Public speaking (festivals, lectures, debates or panel discussions)
  • Participation in broadcast media (television, radio, film)
  • Writing for print, online journalism or other outlets
  • Writing for the non-specialist
  • Exhibitions
  • Showcasing academic know-how
  • Pro-bono schemes
  • Communicating research to the public
  • Acting as the lead for major festival themes
  • Contributing to an organisation
  • Delivery of engagement activities


The UEA Engagement Awards were founded in 2009 by UEA’s public engagement beacon, Community University Engagement (CUE) East. This was a pilot initiative that ran for four years from 2008-2012. The aim was to provide a highly visible reminder that public engagement is an integral part of academic practice. The first awards in 2009 went to six individuals, but this has since grown to accommodate the diverse range of engagement activity that is delivered by staff, academics and students across the university and Norwich Research Park. 2021 will be the thirteenth consecutive year that the awards have taken place.

For more information about the UEA Engagement Awards, please email events@uea.ac.uk


Student Award Winners


Dr Katharine Rogerson - School of Environmental Sciences

As a UEA Postgraduate Researcher, Kate Rogerson created and developed FLY: Bird Migration game for the 2018 Norwich Science Festival (NSF). The game, created with fellow student Marta Acacio, reached out to a young audience to inform and engage them about the migratory behaviour of birds. The children become a bird, by wearing a large bird hat, and ‘migrate’ on a floor map from the UK to sub-Saharan Africa. Cards with good/bad circumstances send them forward or backward on their journey. The game was paired with an informative activity stand about her PhD research, tracking white storks on their migration from Portugal to sub-Saharan Africa and the technology used to do it.

The game caught the attention of the British Trust for Ornithology and Kate was invited to participate in Winging It at Gressenhall Farm in May 2019. The game was then taken to the Royal Norfolk Show in June 2019 and back to NSF in 2019 where Kate gave a 45-minute public talk: ‘Migratory birds in a changing world’ in addition to the successful activity stand. Kate was also invited to speak at the NSF 2019 launch event in front of sponsors and stakeholders and present her work at the opening of UEA’s New Science Building to Dr Jane Goodall. 


Hans Pfalzgraf - School of Biological Sciences

Hans Pfalzgraf is a PhD student who loves giving short science talks using his hands rather than slides. His presentation style helped him to win the Cambridge regional finals of FameLab, where he presented his research on antibody-drug-conjugates. Explaining complex chemistry in less than three minutes was a tall order, but it earned Hans second place in the national finals at the Science Museum, London. Hans has participated in each Norwich Science Festival (NSF) since 2017 where he has designed and led an activity stand introducing the topic of enzyme engineering with toy bricks, told stories about motor proteins in the body and explained organic chemistry with the colour of molecules. Hans also won joint first place in the NSF 2019 Offal Waffle event with his proposition that the ear was the most fascinating organ.

Hans is currently volunteering in the communications team of the international collaboration OpenCovid19 to help share their progress online and recruit more contributors.


Shannon Woodhouse - School of Biological Sciences and John Innes Centre

The first in her family to go to university, Shannon Woodhouse has always felt that communicating science was extremely important, especially within a school environment. It was through external speakers at her school that Shannon considered university a possible option. Consequently, she has been involved in numerous outreach events for primary, secondary and sixth-form students through UEA Science Outreach, both supporting and leading sessions. Most recently in January 2020, she led two DNA necklace workshops for year 8 students at the East Norfolk Triple Science Network Day, and has been involved in events for the Young Innovator’s Forum, organised by AgriTech East

Shannon chose to carry out her PIPs (Professional Internships for PhD students) placement with the Science, Art and Writing (SAW) Trust where she assisted with workshops and stands at both the 2019 Latitude and Norwich Science Festivals. Shannon has continued involvement with the SAW Trust by volunteering at events including London Lates at the Science Museum and at Boomtown Festival.

As Outreach and Communications Officer for the JIC Student Voice in 2019/20, Shannon has encouraged her peers to participate in science communication for schools, and regularly blogs with PhD Profile.


Zuzana Hlaskova - School of Pharmacy

Zuzana Hlaskova has been participating in numerous events such as Norwich Science Festival (NSF), Pint of Science Festival (PoS), World SCI Day, UEA iTeams programme and Women in STEM during her PhD. For several of these events, Zuzana designed activities centred on medicine delivery systems currently being researched in her laboratory led by Dr Sheng Qi. Zuzana also supported students taking part in the High School Analyst competition organised by UEA’s Dr Andrew Mayes in association with the Royal Society of Chemistry and she was selected as a UEA ambassador for the Code First: Girls Introduction to Web Development course, which aims to increase the number of women in tech industry.

One of Zuzana’s other interests includes exploring how research can be better translated into industry. In 2019 she participated in the UEA iTeams programme which addresses alternative markets and commercialisation routes for inventions developed at Norwich Research Park. Along with five fellow PhD researchers and one experienced entrepreneur, Zuzana co-founded Purple Tomato Cosmetics Ltd., a company aiming to create high-end cosmetics merging science, nature, wellbeing and sustainability. Since launching the company, the team have been successful in securing funding from EIRA Microfinance to conduct market research with members of the public and were able to use Zuzana’s science communication skills as part of the company brand.

Project Award Winners


Kirsty Henry - School of Health Sciences

Learning Disabilities: A Journey of Discovery and Reflection – June 2019

This ambitious project was the inspiration of project lead Kirsty Henry, who brought together a range of services and service-users from across the region to raise awareness of Learning Disabilities Week and the Centenary of Learning Disability Nursing in 2019. A two-day public event held at The Forum in Norwich involved over 30 organisations from health and social care, education, private and voluntary sectors across the breadth of services for people with a learning disability.

Activities included: 

  • A giant timeline exploring the progression of learning disability services over 100 years, developed by Kirsty with coordinated input from students, local services, clinicians, retired clinicians, service users and a local historian 

  • A pledge-wall enabling members of the public to pledge action for change. Participants were given a badge designed by UEA students and funded by Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation Trust 

  • Service-user led displays of dance, song and poetry 

  • Interactive and informative stands, games and activities 

  • A coordinated flash mob of ‘This is Me’, performed in sign language and incorporating over 50 UEA students and staff, service users, clinicians, stall holders and other volunteers - who all learned to sign the song through Kirsty’s tutorials . 

The event attracted media attention, with engagement from Radio Norfolk and the Eastern Daily Press and Evening News, including reports highlighting services at NSFT.


Dr Christine Cornea - School of Art, Media and American Studies

Green Film Festival

The Green Film Festival (GFF@UEA) was first brought to UEA by Dr Christine Cornea in 2015 with an initial link to the national UK Green Film Festival sponsored by Friends of the Earth. Having developed its own identity, the GFF@UEA is now being run by Dr Cornea as a separate and distinct annual festival, with a growing reputation, and has become an established feature in UEA’s public events calendar. GFF@UEA brings together environmental issues with contemporary filmmaking and other media and arts disciplines, offering a mix of panel discussions, symposia, talks, workshops and screenings.

GFF@UEA is a truly transdisciplinary project, bringing together researchers from UEA’s School of Art, Media and American Studies and Literature, Drama and Creative Writing with colleagues from the faculties of Science and Social Sciences as well as stakeholders and public festival participants.

Christine has always taken audience and participant feedback, which has been used to improve, expand and build on activity each year. Strong connections with local organisations, in particular the Norwich branch of Greenpeace and Climate Hope Action in Norfolk (CHAIN), have resulted in their representation on the stakeholder organising committee used for Festival planning. Other stakeholders include regional groups and businesses such as Jarrolds, Norwich Community Solar, Norwich FarmShare, Norwich FoodHub, Broads Authority, Norwich Sustainable Living Initiative and Generation Change Group. 2019 saw a new partnership with Aldeburgh DocFest and The Frank Jackson Foundation to launch the Young Environmental Documentary Filmmakers Award.

“I was privileged to see (Christine Cornea) in action when I attended the Green Film Festival in 2016. (A forum for the discussion of global ecological issues, (this festival) brought science and film together for students, researchers and the general public. It was a truly inspirational event - crucial for wider discussions of environmental crisis taking place across the sciences and humanities, and of great interest to the wider community and audiences.” - Professor Linda Ruth Williams, University of Exeter 


Dr Zografia Bika - Norwich Business School

Interreg ‘Increase Valorisation Sociale’  

Increase Valorisation Sociale (Increase VS) is an integrated service whose impact evaluation is led from UEA by Zografia Bika. The project is a partnership between housing associations in England and France and training providers, and aims to economically assist vulnerable people to get into work or business by creating new start-ups and helping people find employment. Out of the 6,000 long-term unemployed people that Increase VS has reached out to, at least 4,000 will complete training and receive support to develop clear action plans and set steps to achieve their goals.   

The Increase VS service offers personalised and ongoing support for up to two years, before and after people’s participation in specialised courses. It also trains some participants to become ambassadors, so that those who would like to can share their learning with their communities as a legacy. This means that they continue to support and embed entrepreneurship and employability learning in their neighbourhoods beyond the life of the project.   

The partnership between housing associations and Zografia’s research-led expertise on tackling employment problems in rural, peripheral and disadvantaged places will assist all stakeholders to gather and reflect on best practices and exchange knowledge for the future.  

UEA submission of written evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Social Mobility 2020

Achievement Award Winners


Professor Carol Robinson - School of Environmental Sciences

Throughout her career, Carol Robinson has conducted sustained and thematic engagement with a broad, public audience to increase awareness about a niche subject: oceanography. Over the past five years, Carol has initiated, organised and led three ‘Introduction to Oceanography’ weekend courses involving colleagues from UEA, British Antarctic Survey (BAS), University of Hull and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS). Participants have ranged from A-level students to marine-related industry professionals.  

In 2013, Carol was part of the Pinch of Salt team behind a week-long interactive exhibit at the prestigious Royal Society Summer Exhibition. Together with researchers from the School of Environmental Sciences, she also presented an exhibit at the 2019 Norwich Science Festival on marine plankton.

Carol contributed to a worldwide music and drama celebration of ‘One Ocean 2018 - Global Science Opera

“I’d like to thank you for a very enjoyable weekend. The subject matter was absolutely fascinating...I am looking at how I can incorporate data collection into my sailing trip which starts next year.” - Participant feedback, 2016 Introduction to Oceanography course 


Professor Christina Jerosch-Herold - School of Health Sciences

Christina Jerosch-Herold is the co-founder of the regional flagship Clinical Academic Careers East: East of England (CLACEast), an information hub and support network for aspiring clinical academic health professionals employed in NHS trusts. CLACEast aims to raise awareness, widen participation and maximise success rates for funded opportunities that develop clinical academic careers. It works towards a national agenda to build research capacity and capability among the NHS workforce, and in particular, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals. Christina co-created a bespoke website for CLACEast  which launched in 2019 in partnership with NHS Trust colleagues, higher education institutions and research collaboratives in the East of England.

Sponsored by Health Education England, CLACEast hosted an inaugural meeting for clinical academics which led to the founding of a Clinical Academic Practitioners Network. With over 360 followers since its launch in July 2019, it organises regular networking events throughout the region. A National Institute for Health Research Training Advocate since 2016, Christina has played a national role in the championing of clinical academic careers for  occupational therapists and other allied health professionals.

 “As an Advocate for Occupational Therapy, your work has been invaluable in promoting excellence in research capacity building and intelligent, clinical academic careers. The Advocate role has been one of the success stories of engagement with targeted professional groups in order to promote NIHR and HEE academic research opportunities.”  - Professor Dave Jones, Dean for the NIHR Academy 


James Piercy - John Innes Centre

James Piercy has been involved in science communication and public engagement since 1995 and now works as a Communications and Engagement Officer at John Innes Centre and as a freelance science communicator, trainer and consultant. In 2017, he was awarded an honorary lectureship from UEA in Biological Sciences and currently teaches on the undergraduate science communication module.

Following an accident in 2011, James focussed his engagement activity on acquired brain injury and used his own story of injury and recovery to raise awareness and share knowledge about neurology and trauma. Over the past nine years, he has become one of the UK’s leading patient voices on the issue, resulting in invitations to contribute to major academic reviews and to give evidence to parliamentary groups. James is also a founding member of Norfolk and Waveney Acquired Brain Injury Network.

He uses his experience in engaging audiences with storytelling, real world context and humour to explore contemporary neurological science. James’ first show, What’s going on in his head? (2015), led to an award-winning radio programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and World Service. He frequently gives talks exploring neuropsychology and neuroplasticity, which have been presented at multiple Norwich Science Festivals and as a TEDx talk. To reach wider audiences, James has produced short videos exploring the medical science behind brain injury.


Mika Brown - School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies

Mika Brown has collaborated with UEA’s Centre for Japanese Studies and the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Culture to highlight cultural diversity to pupils and teachers in Norfolk since 2008. In 2016, the Japan Foundation certified UEA as one of only four universities in the UK to become a member of the Sakura Network, with UEA successfully securing a Sakura Network Grant to promote Japanese language and culture in the UK. As the Project Manager, Mika has continued to be successful in obtaining the fund every year since its original award.

Mika has taken the lead in developing Japan related activities in the region with Discover Japan Days for primary and secondary schools, resulting in approximately 200 participants on campus annually. She also takes ‘Japan Day’ events to schools who find it difficult to make the trip to UEA, and provides educators with the knowledge and equipment to deliver their own Japanese classes. In the 2019-2020 academic year, she organised UEA’s first Japanese Cultural Festival to celebrate Japanese culture through performance and arts and crafts, involving students across the Faculties, and attended by local schools and members of public.  

“I think being knowledgeable about different cultures will always be an excellent talking point with students; another way of engaging them and getting them to appreciate diversity.” - Participant feedback, Japanese Language Course for teachers 


Molly Naylor - School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing

Molly Naylor is a scriptwriter, storyteller and Creative Writing research lecturer at UEA. For the past four years she has been co-director of True Stories Live, a community storytelling project based at Norwich Arts Centre. The events aim to support members of the public through the process of creating and then sharing a true, autobiographical story. ‘Tellers’ are invited to pre-event workshops where they receive support to shape and perform their story. Stories are then recorded and shared as podcasts.

As an organisation, True Stories Live works with a range of different community groups, including New Routes Integration (a Norwich charity supporting refugees and asylum seekers) and Women of the World Festival. In 2018 and 2019, True Stories Live collaborated with Norwich Pride to put on a special event focussing on the stories of LGBTQIA+ speakers, and worked in partnership with members of the deaf community in Norwich to make public events more accessible.

“The audience is almost like being encompassed in a big hug” - Teller

“True Stories Live events set your soul up for the week” - Audience member


Professor Paul Hunter - Norwich Medical School

Paul Hunter joined UEA in 2001 after a career as a consultant medical microbiologist in the UK Public Health Laboratory Service and the NHS. After coming to UEA as Professor of Health Protection, he held an honorary consultant appointment at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital until his retirement from clinical practice in 2016. Paul’s primary interest has been in the spread of emerging infectious diseases. He has published work on most of the major epidemic threats that have emerged in the past 20 years including SARS, Ebola, Zikavirus and Cholera. Paul’s work has been influential in several national and international guidance and policy documents. He has served on the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international committees, and worked with NGOs such as Médecins Sans Frontières.

Paul’s work has led to frequent contacts with the press and broadcast media. The COVID-19 pandemic has generated very intensive activity for Paul, including leading a systematic review of the use of facemasks outside health care facilities, and with his colleague Julii Brainard has written Q&As on self-isolation for The Conversation. Paul is currently working on one of the WHO Health Emergencies Program Experts Advisory Panels on COVID-19 and has contributed to several international guidance documents on the subject. Although he has generally followed and been supportive of the government line, he has not been afraid of criticising government when appropriate, as explained in his Guardian article ‘Why the UK failed to get coronavirus testing up to speed’.

“The latest evidence shows public trust in scientists remains very high - it’s scientists like Paul who are visible and willing to engage that we have to thank for those high levels. We are glad Paul sees the public and journalists as key stakeholders in science, and we owe him so much and are extremely grateful for his hard work and willingness to engage with the media during these unprecedented times. There is no doubt the news coverage of COVID-19, read by millions of ordinary people, has benefitted from Paul’s input.” - Fiona Lethbridge, Senior Press Officer, Science Media Centre 


Dr Teresa Armijos Burneo - School of International Development

Teresa Armijos Burneo uses visual storytelling to research and engage with communities and individuals who have experienced disasters. Since 2013, Teresa has been involved in ten UKRI-funded research projects working with communities who have experienced major disasters in St. Vincent, Montserrat, Peru, Guatemala and Ecuador and also with internally displaced populations who resettled in areas at risk in Colombia. She has used arts-based participatory action research, including music, dance and theatre to elicit dialogue and change. Teresa uses these methodologies as ethical narrative approaches that allow people to tell their stories in their own voices within safe listening ‘spaces’.   

Co-produced work with other researchers at UEA, the UK and collaborators in different countries has resulted in a series of non-academic outputs, including videos to communicate knowledge about volcanic risk used by agencies in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru and the publication of a book of stories collected by children living near the Cotopaxi Volcano in Ecuador. She has co-designed and co-produced exhibits that have been displayed in St. Vincent and Montserrat and participated in the 2019 Norwich Science Festival. Teresa is currently co-editing a book about the experiences of a group of volunteers that monitored an active volcano for more than 15 years in Tungurahua, Ecuador.

"This [creating and performing theatre] has been very significant … we had the chance to tell [our stories] in our own way. I think that’s left a big imprint in us."  - Participant of the Moving with Risk Project, Colombia, 2018

“Thanks to Dr Armijos, I was able to meet people in Peru with other customs, expectations and even another language, but who suffer the same impacts, an identical phenomenon (to what we have experienced). When I realised that, I changed my views and I was able to clearly project my knowledge and give all that wisdom to the service of the community”  - Ecuadorian farmer and volcano observer who attended a workshop in Peru, 2018 


Group Achievement Award

Dr Paul Fisher, Professor Sian Coker and Dr Alvin Ng - Norwich Medical School

Mental Health Literacy training programme

In June 2019 Dr Paul Fisher, supported by colleagues Professor Sian Coker and Dr Alvin Ng, developed and delivered a three-day Mental Health Literacy (MHL) training programme for the Government Ministry of Health (MOH) in Malaysia. Dr Ng’s contribution came via his honorary appointment at UEA and Professor Coker contributed as part of her 2019 sabbatical work which was hosted in Sunway University, Malaysia, which is where Dr Ng is based. The MHL training programme was delivered to healthcare workers in Malaysia and involved close collaboration and engagement with WHO and MOH Malaysia.

The project included:

  • A literature review of MHL in Malaysia and similar low-and-middle income countries (LMICs) leading to the development of a framework template to support all phases of the work.  

  • Development and delivery of a three-day, highly interactive training package for healthcare workers and resources to evaluate this package.  

  • Development and delivery of two additional stakeholder days in Malaysia working alongside MOH colleagues, which sought to review the training, all materials and the delivery of the MHL programme to healthcare staff.  

  • Dissemination of the outcomes of the project and ongoing discussions with WHO on the implementation of MHL interventions in LMICs.

Further dissemination occurred in Malaysia and at UEA.

Evaluation from those who attended the training and from key stakeholders indicated that the training package was very positively received. Participants found the workshop helpful and relevant and the range of interactive teaching methods was rated very highly. Following the training a range of recommendations were put forward to further develop and extend the work and these, alongside all training materials, were presented to MOH Malaysia and WHO.

Outstanding Achievement Award Winners


Christopher Bigsby - Emeritus Professor, School of Art, Media and American Studies

Christopher Bigsby has had a career of what can only be described as sustained achievement.  

He began recording interviews with writers when he first arrived at UEA in 1969. His founding of the Arthur Miller Centre (now Institute) led to gala performances at Norwich Theatre Royal and the National Theatre in London. Both were filmed for television - accompanied by gala dinners in the Sainsbury Centre attended by writers, directors and reviewers as well as members of the public and university.  

It wasn’t until 1991, that Christopher began the International Literary Festival in which he brought writers and others from around the world to UEA. Interviewees included Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize/National Book Award, Booker Prize and Costa Book winners through to first-time writers. The Festival brought to UEA, novelists, playwrights, poets, biographers, historians, actors, directors, politicians and scientists. All events were videotaped and are now to be found in the British Archive for Contemporary Writing [Link to: BACW] which he founded in 2015 and to which the public have access. The conversations were also published in a series of seven books, thus disseminating them widely.

The Festival has attracted some 11,000 attendees (and counting) not only from Norwich and its surroundings but from much further afield, with one couple even flying from Germany. The Festival has also generated some quarter of a million pounds for student scholarships.  

Alongside all of the above, Christopher presented BBC Radio 4’s Kaleidoscope for many years, and BBC World Service’s Meridian, as well as a raft of other series (Present Voice: Past Words, Off the Page, The Index, Centurions, The Archive Hour et al). For eighteen years he also chaired the British Council’s Cambridge Seminar which brought writers, academics, journalists from around the world to meet British writers. He was a founder member of the European American Studies Network bringing American Studies centres across the continent together.  

Christopher has published more than fifty books and received a number of American, British and European awards for his fiction, biography and work on American theatre.   

UEA’s Literary Festival still runs strong - led now by Professor Henry Sutton, Director of Creative Writing at UEA. The Humanities Events Team have provided continued and sustained support, enabling new projects to grow and flourish, such as the annual NOIRWICH Festival of Crime Writing and continue to collaborate with regional and national partners to showcase UEA’s Creative Writing talent. 2020 celebrates 50 years of UEA’s Creative Writing programme. 

“Since its inception, UEA’s pioneering Creative Writing MA has provided a unique environment for writers to meet, develop and discuss their work. The results have been phenomenal and over the last 50 years the programme’s alumni have gone on to shape the literary landscape of the UK and beyond. Building on this remarkable heritage, the anniversary is an opportunity to look ahead to the future of creative writing, in what promises to be a fantastic anniversary celebration.”   - Prof Henry Sutton, Director of Creative Writing at UEA 


Professor George McKay - School of Art, Media and American Studies

George McKay is a social and cultural historian of festival culture. His work has been a central catalyst for the ways in which jazz festivals now use academic research as part of an ongoing self-conscious engagement with their musical, social and cultural histories. George’s engagement work is both with industry (festival organisers, musicians and creatives) and with festival-goers themselves. He has been researching the social and cultural significance of festivals since his earliest books, Senseless Acts of Beauty (Verso, 1996), DIY Culture (Verso, 1998), and Glastonbury (Gollancz, 2000).

As inaugural Professor in Residence at the 2014 EFG London Jazz Festival, George contributed in important ways to festival organisations’ working and thinking practice as they reflect on their own histories to forge and use new understandings of their impact on culture and the public. His Arts and Humanities Research Council and EU-funded research has brought new knowledge about historic jazz practitioners to creatives and commissioners who have responded by changing their musical repertoires and practices, and to new public audiences at jazz festivals.

In 2015, the BBC Big Weekend festival took place in Earlham Park, Norwich. George organised a free public and academic symposium on festival cultures at UEA for 80 delegates, the speakers including three national festival directors and, as keynote, the then national Director of BBC Music Bob Shennan.

Put together, this work constitutes an impressive and ambitious record of sustained achievement over many years for excellence in engagement, both with the creative industry and with industry audiences. His report, co-authored with Dr Emma Webster, From Glyndebourne to Glastonbury: The Impact of British Music Festivals, is widely cited in the industry.

His is “immensely valuable...work that informs our practice as a producer of live music...(it) marks the essential role of academic research in evaluating the impact of the cultural sector in a wider context.” - The late John Cumming OBE, founding director, EFG London Jazz Festival and Serious Music