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Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement


The 2020/21 call for STFC Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement is now open for applications. The call deadline has been extended to 16:00 on 7 October 2020.

We want to

Daresbury Open Week

Daresbury Open Week - Schools Day
(Credit: STFC)

  • Support the very best scientists, engineers and technical staff within STFC’s community to undertake extended programmes of high quality, innovative public engagement.
  • Encourage and support leadership and capacity building for public engagement activities within organisations
  • Contribute to the wider community of highly skilled practitioners of public engagement with STFC science, technology and facilities who inspire and involve colleagues, students and members of the public, through their engagement programme and leadership
  • Highlight the achievements of STFC science, technology and facilities, demonstrating the excitement of research and the value of STEM to the UK

Our expectations of our Leadership Fellows


  • Act as academic leaders for engagement within their organisation
  • Build strengthened capacity and networks for public engagement activities within their organisation
  • To raise the profile of public engagement within their host institution and professional community, including sharing best practice and developing new talent


  • To deliver a prolonged, thematic and an appropriate programme of high-quality public engagement, covering multiple different events and activities during the lifetime of the fellowship

  • Promote and champion STFC science, technology and facilities, including the impact of science and technology on society


  • To regularly interact with STFC’s public engagement and communication teams, including STFC networks, events, grant holder meetings and advisory structures when requested


1.0 Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement – overview


2.0 How to apply


3.0 Contacts and enquiries

Before submitting your application you are encouraged to contact the Public Engagement Team to discuss your ideas.


4.0 Membership and Terms of Reference

Aims of the Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement panel
  1. To assess and make recommendations to the STFC Executive for the awards in Public Engagement.
  2. To take account, as appropriate, of any strategic advice provided by STFC.
  3. To take account, as appropriate, of the recommendations of external reviewers and the conclusion of specialist peer review Panels.*
  4. To provide clear concise feedback to applicants.
  5. To advise the Science Board and Executive as required on all issues relating to research grants including monitoring the level of funding allocated to grants per round.
  6. To liaise with other bodies as necessary.
  7. To carry out other tasks associated with peer review that the Executive might require.

*These may be convened by the Executive to include consolidated grants, contiguous groups of research requests, or research requests which are judged (on the basis of cost or propriety) with regard to the Terms of Reference for the panel.

Guidelines for managing conflicts of interest in the peer review process

The STFC, as a publicly funded organisation, is accountable to Government and the public for its actions and for the way it conducts its business which must be undertaken in a way that is transparent and guards against conflicts of interest influencing the outcome of decisions. Further information for managing conflicts as an STFC Panel member can be found here.

Equality of opportunity

The STFC is fully committed to ensuring that all applicants receive equal treatment throughout the peer review process and will provide the necessary training and support to panel members and peer reviewers. STFC policies on inclusion and diversity are available on the STFC website. STFC will keep these policies under review to ensure that its policies and practices reflect best practice and enable full compliance under the Equality Act 2010.


The STFC will distribute peer review papers via a secure extranet and all information must be considered as confidential i.e. the contents should not be disclosed. The confidential nature is intended to ensure that the contents of the proposals, reviews etc. are not made known more widely than is necessary for proper consideration by the peer review panels. Names of reviewers are not disclosed to applicants and neither are those of the lead introducer for the proposals.

Security/Data Protection

Applications, independent reviews and PI Responses are available to panel members via the Peer Review Extranet (STFC’s preferred method for sharing data). Strict controls on data security and data handling are currently in place for Government departments and Government-funded organisations, including the Research Councils. Panel members must not save data (on to laptops, discs or hard drives) and if printed copies of any of the documents are made, these must be shredded after use.

  • Tara Shears - University of Liverpool (Chair)
  • Vicky Brightman - Imperial College London
  • Richard Holliman - The Open University
  • Victoria Pearson - The Open University
  • Robert Walsh - University of Central Lancashire

5.0 Previously funded projects


Christian Diget
University of York
Engaging Education with Binding Blocks
1 August 2018 for 36 months

Christian will aim to engage school students with cutting-edge STFC Nuclear Physics in an interactive, inquiry-based approach.

Binding Blocks centres around an interactive construction of a seven metre nuclear chart of isotopes built of LEGO(R) bricks. Through engaging with the chart, participants get a hands-on experience of key areas of nuclear science, astrophysics and energy.

Christian’s Leadership Fellowship has a strong focus on integrating Binding Blocks into the UK A-level and equivalent delivery of nuclear physics. This will be achieved by the delivery of large-scale Nuclear Masterclasses, Teacher Training and smaller-scale in-school teaching by team members and teachers.

The programme furthermore includes university student training, both taught and "on-the-job" training, as well as an extensive internship programme. Through these influencers Binding Blocks will be implemented into schools using the nuclear chart to study cutting-edge research in nuclear science, linked with the secondary-school curriculum. This includes study of nuclear isotopes, nuclear decay, nuclear energy, and the astrophysical origin of the chemical elements we are made of.

During the Leadership Fellowship, the Binding Blocks programme will become a full-scale educational programme in collaboration with hundreds of schools and thousands of pupils. The Binding Blocks programme will also grow organically through the development of partnerships and support for students who, it is hoped, will become Binding Blocks ambassadors in their local area in the future.

Throughout the programme, partner institutions and individuals will be supported in developing their own Binding Blocks programmes, through seeding and joint internships and projects, yielding a long-lasting impact across the UK on universities, schools, and individuals.

Christian Diget

Christian Diget
(Credit: University of York)


Helen Mason
University of Cambridge
SunSpaceArt - Phase II
1 August 2018 for 20 months

Helen will use her Leadership Fellowship application to consolidate and build on the great success of the PE Fellowship that she held for the 'Sun|trek: here comes the Sun' project, aka SunSpaceArt Phase I, and to extend the project with some exciting new initiatives.

The SunSpaceArt Phase I was focussed primarily on solar space research, with five main themes:

  • colours of light
  • beyond the rainbow
  • gravity and orbits
  • harnessing solar energy
  • light and darkness

The focus of 'SunSpaceArt - Phase II' will still be on the Sun and solar system, and will also include the latest STFC research projects, such as ESA's Solar Orbiter. It will also include Space Science (human space travel) and Polar Sciences (climate change, space weather). This will help to demonstrate the interdisciplinary nature of STFC’s work with other research councils and with organisations such as the UK Space Agency and ESA.

SunSpaceArt - Phase II will share best practice and extend the reach of the project to more schools in new locations, target both art and science teachers, train young researchers and artists to deliver STEM activities. The project will be promoted via arts and science festivals – extending the project with guest scientists, artists and communicators.

The team has been increased to deliver the increased demand for workshops in schools and teacher training. The work with schools will be showcased and resources made available for teachers via the bespoke SunSpaceArt website that will be developed.

Helen and her colleagues will work with children with Special Learning Difficulties, a group that has been found to respond well to STEM activities.

Ultimately the project aims to ensure that this project leaves a lasting legacy, and that STEM activities are well and truly embedded in the UKRI's outreach agenda and the educational landscape. In addition, the project aims to support and train teachers, young researchers and artists to deliver STEM activities, again providing a lasting legacy for the project.

Helen is in high demand to give public lectures and talks to school students, from primary to sixth formers. This Leadership Fellowship will enable her to continue this valuable work, promoting STFC science and acting as an envoy and role model for girls and female scientists.

Helen Mason

Helen Mason
(Credit: University of Cambridge)


Anne-Marie Weijmans
University of St Andrews
1 September 2018 for 36 months

Anne-Marie’s Shine project revolves around four main objectives.

The first is to engage the general public with light and spectra at Shine events. Art, music and science demonstrations will be taken to various locations including festivals, theatres, museums and prisons.

Science demonstrations, artwork and performances will combine to engage the public and encourage people to think about light, explore its properties, and to find out how modern astronomical research makes use of spectra to learn more about stars and galaxies in the Universe.

Secondly, the project will engage primary school children with light and spectra, in the class room. Activities will be developed for school children, aged between 7 and 11, that will help them understand properties of light and their use in astronomy. These activities will be available in schools – including a ‘Shine in a Box’ for remote use - and at St Andrews University.

Thirdly, scientists, teachers, artists and musicians will be engaged with light and spectra at Shine Collider events – these events will create a better understanding of their respective work and encourage the start of new projects and collaborations.

In addition, undergraduate and graduate students in physics and astronomy will be engaged with public engagement and science communication. The opportunity for them to engage in Shine will help develop their skills and increase their knowledge of the important role that public engagement plays in a scientific environment.

Anne-Marie Weijmans

Anne-Marie Weijmans
(Credit: University of St. Andrews)


Stephen Wilkins
University of Sussex
Exploring the Universe with JWST
1 January 2018 – 31 December 2020

‘The UK has made a large contribution to the James Webb Space Telescope which will have huge impact on astronomy within the UK and globally.

The JWST will be the world’s premier observatory, with the capacity to inspire a new generation into astronomy and a range of other STEM disciplines.

Stephen will use his Leadership Fellowship to build a comprehensive, wide reaching and engaging education, public engagement and outreach (EPO) programme.

The principle aim of the programme is to support and advance JWST EPO activities both pre and post-launch.

On-line and physical resources around Stephen’s research interests in First Light and Reionisation will be developed and deployed, principally to younger audiences.’

Stephen Wilkins

(Credit: University of Sussex)


Chris Allton
Swansea University
Public Engagement in Oriel Science
1 January 2018 – 31 December 2020

‘The Oriel Science Exhibition Centre is an established permanent exhibition space run by Swansea University in Swansea city centre and showcasing the university’s research.

This Leadership Fellowship will provide support for Chris in his role as the Director of Oriel Science to exploit and build on the early, significant success of Oriel Science so that it will become an important regional exhibition space showcasing the wonders of science.

The main purposes of the fellowship are to inspire younger visitors to take STEMM GCSE subjects, A-levels and university courses. The fellowship will develop the science capital and science literacy of older visitors.’

Chris Allton

(Credit: Swansea University)


Robert Walsh
University of Central Lancashire
Illuminating Astrophysics Engagement in Blackpool, Lancashire
1 September 2017 – 31 August 2020

‘This Leadership Fellowship enables Robert to undertake an extended programme of multiple public engagement activities.

The fellowship will consist of three complementary strands, targeting a region with some of the lowest science capital audiences in the UK; that is, Blackpool in Lancashire. The work will be undertaken in partnership with Blackpool Council along with support from UCLan through employing the excellent facilities and associated personnel at the UCLan Young Scientist Centre and the JHI Alston Observatory.

The overall objectives of Robert’s fellowship are:

  • Improving the experience of STFC-related science areas for a targeted cohort of young people in Blackpool;
  • Inspiring this cohort through activities that increase their exposure to, develop their knowledge of and enhance their confidence in engaging with STEM;
  • Raising their aspirations of being scientists themselves by meeting real-life researchers in a range of venues;
  • Enabling researchers through hands-on working with the cohort to extend their PE experience of and materials available for use with low science capital groups;
  • Exploring the further exposure of STFC science via high profile PE collaborations- via the Blackpool illuminations and other Blackpool-themed activities.
Robert Walsh

(Credit: University of Central Lancashire)


6.0 Equality and inclusion impact assessment (EIA)

View the Equality and Inclusion Impact Assesment

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Last updated: 05 October 2020


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