Vice-Chancellor’s awards showcase impact and engagement during the pandemic

  The Happyshield face shield  Credit: Happyshield

Academics, students and professional members of staff from across the University of Cambridge have been recognised in this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Research Impact and Engagement Awards for their work in areas including COVID-19 testing, PPE production and online engagement.

Now in their fifth year, the awards were made in five categories: collaboration, early career, established academic, professional service, online and remote.

The winners of the collaboration category are Dr Michael Weekes from Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, and Dr Steven Baker from Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease. They collaborated to establish a comprehensive rapid turn-around COVID-19 testing platform for Cambridge University Hospitals healthcare workers, University staff and students.

The newly-established ‘online and remote engagement’ award goes to Dr Michael Ramage and team from the Department of Architecture for their HappyShield project. This involved developing, testing, and disseminating a novel open-source medical face shield to help tackle severe PPE shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing in particular on production in Low and Middle Income Countries. 

The winner of the early career researcher award is Chioma Achi from the Department of Veterinary Medicine. Achi organised an engagement programme across Nigeria to strengthen the participation of poultry farmers in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

The winner of the established researcher award is Dr Duncan Astle from the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit. Working in partnership with children’s charities, local education authorities, academy chains and local schools, Astle led an engagement programme providing teachers with robust evidence to help young people overcome cognitive and behavioural barriers to learning.

The winner of the professional services award is Dr Rosalyn Wade from the Museum of Zoology. Wade reimagined the Museum’s learning and public programme following COVID-19 lockdown and the venue’s temporary closure. She designed and released a new blog and developed an innovative online festival (Zoology Live!).

The awards were announced yesterday (5th October) by the University’s Public Engagement team on Twitter

Professor Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, says:  “The University’s mission is to contribute to society. One of the ways we do it is by undertaking research with real social, cultural and economic impact. 

“These awards celebrate research that best demonstrates 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. This year’s panel of judges was inspired and uplifted by the quality of applications.”

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Image:  The Happyshield face shield

Credit: Happyshield

Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge


The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

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