Public Engagement Award for physicist

Sam Wood
Dr Victoria Mason

Dr Victoria Mason, Senior Lecturer in Physics in the School of Physical Sciences, has won the Achievement Award at the South East Physics Network (SEPnet) Public Engagement Awards.

The judging body noted that Dr Mason’s outstanding work over more than 10 years has been fundamental to the School of Physical Sciences embedded approach to engagement, and deserved recognition in the form of the Achievement Award.

This award recognises an individual’s record of sustained excellence in drawing different audiences through a range of engaging activities across different channels.

Dr Mason has pioneered a Civic Partnership between the School of Physical Sciences and Discovery Planet, a community interest company based in Thanet. Since 2014, they have secured joint public engagement and outreach funding worth over £140,000 from funding bodies such as the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the UK Space Agency and Thanet Council.

This collaboration was recently recognised with an STFC Nucleus Award for a longitudinal project examining the social and economic impact of pop-up science shops on the Thanet community.

In 2019, Dr Mason was fundamental to the development of the School’s public engagement and communications strategy, working to make it an exemplar across Higher Education, leading to successful application for the NCCPE watermark Silver accreditation in 2020.

This strategy introduced a Public Engagement with Research (PER) training element of the School’s graduate training programme, including training to cover an introduction to PER, audiences, planning a project and evaluation, and introducing outreach and engagement projects into the physics and chemistry curriculum.

For this, in addition to Dr Mason’s individual win, the School of Physical Sciences was awarded the ‘Strategic Approach to Public Engagement’ by the SEPnet Public Engagement Awards.

On the success of the School at the Awards, Dr Mason said: ‘It is immensely gratifying for the School of Physical Sciences to be acknowledged by the South East Physics Network for our efforts in widening and strengthening public engagement with physical sciences at the University. This adds momentum to our work in bringing our curriculum to our local communities and seeing the benefit this can have for all.’