Public Engagement (PE) Prize

The Babraham Institute's Public Engagement Prize recognises an individual or team who have contributed to the Institute's public engagement and science communication activities, demonstrating their passion for science and enthusiasm and commitment to inspiring generations.

2019 Winners

PE Prize winners 2019The 2019 Public Engagement Prize was awarded jointly to The Cell Escape team: Izzy Hampson, Chiara Pantarelli, Richard Odle, Piotr Jung. In addition to individually being active in the Institute’s public engagement activities throughout 2018 and 2019, the team made an impressive joint contribution through the development of the cell signalling-themed Escape Room. The award recognised the team’s exceptional achievement in the design of the project and its first use at the Cambridge Science Festival this year (image gallery here). In public feedback from The Cell Escape activity, Izzy, Chiara, Richard and Piotr were praised for how engaging they were when discussing the underlying science. This award recognises Izzy’s, Chaira’s, Richard’s and Piotr’s demonstrated capacity for raising the profile of the Institute and engaging the public with our science in innovative and exciting ways.

2018 Winners



Csilla Varnai (l) and Mikhail Spivakov (r) worked with musician and music producer Max Cooper and visual artist and mathematician Andy Lomas, to produce an emotive new way to experience the complexity and elegance of DNA organisation. Taking data and inspiration from Csilla’s work, Max created two music tracks - ‘Chromos’ and ‘Coils of Living Synthesis’ - and devised a visual to complement the tracks and a Virtual Reality experience which allows people to climb inside the data.

StefanIn addition to the music being released on an EP and incorporated into Max’s worldwide shows, Csilla, Mikhail and Stefan Schoenfelder (l) presented the work at the Cambridge Science Festival and Science Museum Lates, and the work is currently on display at the ZKM, Karlsruche, Germany until January 2019. This work required additional input from the team; developing and giving presentations and producing extended explanation content (in English and German), and exhibit hardware for the showcases.


2018 Nominees

  • Boo Virk, Alex Harvey and Dorottya Horkai, for supporting primary and secondary school outreach, science festivals and notably for developing and delivering new ‘Technasium’ challenge projects relating to their research/facility for the Institute’s partnership with a school in the Netherlands.
  • Carolyn Rogers and Elizabeth Hampson, for devising and delivering new projects for Cambridge Launchpad, which saw Year 8 students at three local secondary schools investigating DNA extraction and winning teams spending a day in our labs.

2017 Winner


Claire Senner was awarded the Public Engagement Prize for her successful Royal Society Partnership Grant, working with Hitchin Girls School on a project investigating X-chromosome inactivation.

The external judges, from The University of Cambridge and The Royal Society, commented on the range of activities and how well they had been run.

2017 Nominees

2016 Winners

AmyAmy, a member of the Okkenhaug lab, was acknowledged for her consistent support of the Institute’s PE programme across a number of years. She was recognised for the extent of her contribution to the development of the 2015 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, including take a leading role in the associated video.

OlgaOlga, a member of the Corcoran lab, was recognised for her work as a PE Champion for the Nuclear Dynamics programme.  In this role she encourages others to get involved in activities and was involved in the design and development of a DNA-packaging activity for the Institute’s Molecular Explorers exhibit.


2015 Winners

ClaireClaire (l), a PhD student in the Coleman Lab was recognised for her enthusiasm and dedication to engaging a wide variety of audiences. Even before joining Babraham as a summer student in 2012 she published a Science in Society Review in the Cambridge Triple Helix journal on ‘locked-in syndrome’. Since joining the Institute as a PhD student in 2013 she has engaged in a wide range of science communication activities, including tireless work for Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK), Cambridge Science Festival, schools and undergraduate supervisions.

SimonDr Simon Rudge (r), a Senior Researcher in the Wakelam Lab was acknowledged in recognition of his efforts in setting up the Babraham Institute’s Protein Challenge project for and with the University Technical College Cambridge. Simon has been instrumental in converting a one-day outreach activity into an 8-week challenge project for 14-16 year old students and dedicated a significant proportion of his time to ensure that the project was delivered successfully.

Speaking about her award, Claire said “I am very pleased to have been given this award - it was very unexpected!”. Simon was equally modest when talking about the UTC project, “I enjoyed designing the project and working with the UTC staff and students this year. I never imagined I would be nominated, never mind win this award!”.
The Public Engagement prize entries were judged by public engagement specialists from the BBSRC and Cambridge University who praised the Babraham Institute not only for the winning candidates but also for the number of quality nominations. One judge commented “Overall a good collection of applications and quite hard to compare and rank them”.