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Honour for champion of 'citizen science'

15 Oct 2012

Dr Erinma Ochu, who led the mass sunflower planting as part of Manchester Museum's celebration of Alan Turing, has been awarded a Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellowship.

The fellowships champion and develop upcoming stars in public engagement with science. The scheme, now in its second year, provides support for science communicators with a strong track record of delivering high-quality public engagement and aims to propel them to become leaders in their field.

Erinma will explore innovative ways to embed biomedical science in people’s everyday lives. She will investigate how ‘citizen science’ – science carried out by the public, for example in the mass planting for Turing’s Sunflowers, which invited the public to grow sunflowers in order to analyse mathematical patterns in nature – can contribute to biomedical research challenges. Working with high profile mentors, researchers and the Wellcome Trust Arts Awards team, she will also explore the role that new technologies and interactive storytelling can play.

She already holds an honorary research fellowship in the Faculty of Life Sciences. She will work in partnership with the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) and various festivals to test out new approaches.

The fellowships are part of the Wellcome Trust’s strategic vision of working with researchers and the creative industries to help societies explore and become involved with biomedical science, its future directions, its impacts on society and the ethical questions that it brings.

The fellowships were launched last year with awards to anaesthetist, astrobiologist and TV science presenter Dr Kevin Fong and medical historian and creator of the Sick City Project Dr Richard Barnett.

Clare Matterson, Director of Medical Humanities and Engagement at the Wellcome Trust, says: “Kevin and Richard, our first two fellows, have impressed and surprised us over the first year of their fellowships with imaginative projects that engage the public through live events, TV and radio and mobile ‘apps’. Erinma already has a strong track record in public engagement, and we hope that these fellowships will enable her to join Kevin and Richard as a pioneering communicator.”