2020 Vice Chancellor's Awards for Research Impact and Engagement
"These awards celebrate research that best demonstrate social, cultural and economic impact through engagement. From advances in healthcare and industrial processes, to rapid responses to the global pandemic; from cultural activities that recognise diversity in our societies, to new knowledge that improves teaching and increases social mobility."
Professor Stephen J Toope, Vice Chancellor, University of Cambridge
Established Academic Award
Dr Joseph Webster
Faculty of Divinity, School of Arts and Humanities
Sectarianism in Scotland and the repeal of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act
Sectarianism is frequently referred to as “Scotland’s shame”. More than this, sectarianism in Scotland is inextricably linked, in the media and in popular discourse, to the violent football hooliganism of ‘Old Firm’ grudge matches between ‘Catholic’ Celtic FC and ‘Protestant’ Rangers FC. But as Webster’s research, public policy, and media engagement demonstrates, the social reality of sectarianism remains badly misunderstood by politicians and citizens alike. Based on long-term ethnography conducted among republican and loyalist football fans in Glasgow, Webster’s research was pivotal in repealing Scotland’s Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, and in redirecting anti-sectarian government funding toward early-years education interventions.
Professor Peter Hutchinson and Professor David Menon
Clinical Neurosciences / Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine
Reshaping the treatment of traumatic brain injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) arising from transport accidents, assaults, falls and sport is the commonest cause of death under the age of 40 in high-income countries. Both the pattern of brain damage and the eventual outcome are highly variable between patients, making it extremely difficult to link particular characteristics of a TBI to optimum treatment and improved outcomes. Our research strategies, which include monitoring and advanced imaging of patients and clinical trials, have made a major contribution to the management and health outcomes of patients with TBI, and also resulted in changes in policy, clinical practice/training and public understanding.
Early Career Researcher Award
Department of Psychiatry, School of Clinical Medicine
Public health approaches to identifying and responding to mental health difficulties in children and young people
Emma Soneson is a PhD student whose research focuses on how we can better identify and respond to mental health difficulties in children and young people. Though early in her career, she has demonstrated a strong commitment to engagement and impact through partnering with key stakeholders to improve her research, widely communicating her findings to members of the public, and consulting on matters of policy and practice. The breadth of her activities is truly impressive, ranging from the creation of a school staff advisory group to blog posts and public presentations, to discussions with NHS practitioners and Home Office policymakers.
Dr Naures Atto
Asian and Middle Eastern Studies/Middle Eastern Studies, School of Arts and Humanities
Endangered Middle Eastern Cultures and their Vulnerability in Migration Contexts
Dr Naures Atto works with Assyrians and Yazidis in the Western diasporas and those remaining in the Middle East whose presence and cultures have been seriously endangered with the rise of ISIS and other extremist groups in the last decades. Dr Atto’s projects show how community and individual participation in research, its interpretation and its use can be highly impactful for the survival of these groups and their cultures, both in the Middle East and in the diaspora. Her work has impacted directly on how these groups view, discuss, and preserve their cultural identities, including their vernacular language, Surayt.
Dr Nicki Kindersley
Faculty of History, School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Militarised political economies in South Sudan
Working in partnership with South Sudanese universities, and via years of field interviews and engagement with local communities, I have built new understandings of migrant and military labour markets in the region, entwining academic publication, policy engagement and public education and debate. The project provides critical insight into fundamental shifts in military recruitment, thus informing humanitarian policy-making at a critical time in regional peace-building. The research has shifted diplomatic and development policy for the UK Government and other donors; expanded local research capacity; and created space within the South Sudanese political sphere for debate on labour rights and good governance.
Professional Services Award
Dr Victoria Avery, Dr Melissa Calaresu and Dr Miranda Stearn
Fitzwilliam Museum, Applied Arts, Faculty of History, Fitzwilliam Museum, Learning and Engagement
Non-School Institution, School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Feast & Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500–1800 Research Project
Feast & Fast is the latest interdisciplinary, research-led, public-facing collaboration between Victoria Avery and Melissa Calaresu, together with various local community partners. The exhibition celebrates the production, preparation, and presentation of food, its consumption or rejection, its ideologies and identities. Feast & Fast considers extreme eating alongside everyday experiences, demonstrating how contemporary concerns about food are not a modern phenomenon. The compelling and complex, local and global, story of food in early modern Europe is told through over 300 exhibits, mostly from Cambridge University and College collections, newly researched, re-contextualised, and returned to the public domain.
Online and Remote Engagement Award
Centre for Geopolitics
Department of Politics and International Studies, School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Centre for Geopolitics Coronavirus Response
COVID-19 prompted the Centre to reconnect with policymakers and a wider audience beyond the traditional confines of face-to-face events in Cambridge. In response, we launched a series of virtual panel discussions and a new ‘Conversations’ website. The aim of both was to deepen public understanding of the historical context of geopolitical challenges rising from the pandemic, to enable debate on future governance needs in specific issue areas, and to inform policy and decision-making at multiple levels of government. We engaged journalists, policymakers, research institutes, and an audience from over 100 countries and territories. Our conversations were quoted by the UK Foreign Secretary in parliamentary debate and used in articles in major newspapers.