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The Oxford Martin School and the Museum of the History of Science have won a Project Award in this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Public Engagement with Research Awards, which celebrate public engagement work across the University. The announcement was made at an awards ceremony at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History on 28 June hosted by Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson.

The winning project was recognised in the Communication and Consultation Project Award categories - for activities that have informed and inspired the public about research, engaged in two-way conversations and listened to public views.

The award winning project, an exhibition called Back from the Dead – Demystifying Antibiotics, ran at the Museum of the History of Science between November 2016 and May 2017. The exhibition celebrated the 75th anniversary of the first clinical trials of penicillin, explored the complex history of antibiotic development and addressed the urgent global health threat posed by antibiotic resistance. The project team comprised of Dr Claas Kirchhelle and Dr Andreas Kappes of Oxford Martin School and Dr Silke Ackerman, Marie-Louise Kerr, Dr Sophie Waring and Dr Stephen Johnston from the Museum of the History of Science.

The breadth and diversity of the activities taking place show how seriously the University takes its commitment to public engagement.”
Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor 

Back from the Dead challenged common antibiotic myths and generated new research data by surveying public understandings of antibiotics, antimicrobial resistance and attitudes towards antibiotic stewardship. The survey data will feed into a future Oxford Martin School policy paper and the exhibition will leave a physical legacy in the form of a permanent display in the museum. Together with public events, gallery tours, arts workshops and a schools engagement programme, Back from the Dead attracted 47,796 visitors from all age and income groups from Oxfordshire and further afield.

The Vice-Chancellor's Public Engagement with Research Awards recognise and reward those at the University who undertake high-quality engagement activities and have contributed to building capacity in this area. Back from the Dead was one of six winners in the Project category of the awards.

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor says: “I have been deeply impressed by the quality of the public engagement with research projects submitted for this year’s awards. The breadth and diversity of the activities taking place show how seriously the University takes its commitment to public engagement.”

Professor Alison Woollard, the University’s Academic Champion for Public Engagement with Research says: “Public engagement enriches both research and society and the University is committed to enabling our researchers to inspire, consult and collaborate with the public. I’m delighted that we are able to recognise and highlight the fantastic work our researchers are doing and hope these awards encourage more colleagues across the University to carry out their own public engagement with research.”

Further information

Silke Ackermann and Sophie Waring on That's Oxfordshire talking about the exhibition.