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Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement


The 2019 call for applications to the Leadership Fellowships in Public Engagement scheme is now closed.

We want to

Daresbury Open Week

Daresbury Open Week - Schools Day
(Credit: STFC)

  • Support the very best scientists and engineers in STFC’s community to undertake extended programmes of the highest-quality, innovative public engagement as a core part of their job role, while maintaining an active research programme.
  • Create a network of highly-skilled practitioners of public engagement with STFC science who inspire and involve colleagues, students, and the public, in their activities
  • Highlight the achievements of STFC science and technology, demonstrating the excitement of research and the value of STEM to the UK

Our expectations of our Leadership Fellows

  • Delivering a prolonged, thematic programme of public engagement, covering multiple different events and activities during the lifetime of the Fellowship
  • Raising the profile of public engagement within their host institution and professional community, including sharing best practice and developing new talent
  • Championing STFC science and technology, including the impact of science and technology on society
  • Regularly interacting with STFC’s public engagement and communication teams, including participation in STFC networks, events, and advisory structures when requested.


1.0 Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement – overview


1.1 Scheme Remit

STFC Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement undertake high quality programmes of engagement and outreach while concurrently acting as champions for the value and practice of engagement with research in their host institution and research community. STFC Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement are expected to remain ‘research-active’ during their Fellowship: the scheme is designed to support those individuals who wish to champion and lead high-quality public engagement as a core component of a high-quality research or technical career.

1.1.1 STEM Engagement Activities

Proposed engagement programmes must clearly focus around the remit of the STFC science programme (astronomy, solar and planetary science, particle physics, particle astrophysics, cosmology, nuclear physics and accelerator science) or clearly and demonstrably align to the science and technology work of STFC’s national and international laboratories and facilities.

Fellowships will not be awarded unless there is a strong and demonstrable link between the proposed activities and STFC science and technology. We welcome proposals that emphasise a strong inter-disciplinary connection to STFC’s remit.

1.1.2 Demonstrating Leadership & Capacity Building

STFC intends Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement to play a prominent role in raising the standards of public engagement – either in their host department, institution, and/or wider research community, and to champion the value of public engagement with research.

A substantial proportion of time (at least 25%) of every Leadership Fellowship application must be dedicated to activities the applicant considers to be dedicated to leadership and capacity building. Applicants are required to propose activities tailored to their working environment or community networks, and explain why such approaches are appropriate. Where evidence exists as to an institution or community’s existing attitudes towards engagement, this should be cited to present a strong case.  

1.1.3 General Points

Applicants should use their Case for Support to clearly explain how their Fellowship will further the aims of the STFC Public Engagement Strategy.

Applications that highlight the social, ethical, and economic benefits of research are welcomed.

Applicants are encouraged to propose novel or innovative approaches towards engagement as part of their Fellowship, as long as these are demonstrably well planned.

We encourage applications that propose engagement with audiences considered to have low ‘science capital’. Applicants may choose which audiences to engage with, and the methods of engagement. These must be outlined in the Case for Support.

STFC Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement are not intended to fund single, ‘one-off’, activities. For such engagement activities, applicants should consider alternative funding sources, including other STFC awards. Fellowships will not be awarded for the sole purpose of authorship and publication of books and novels, though proposals in which the production of a book is an output of a longer programme will be considered. 


1.2 Host Institution

Applicants are advised to contact their proposed host department as early as possible, and certainly well ahead of the deadline for submission of applications. Departments may have internal processes to select which candidates to support and the deadlines for these may be several weeks in advance of an STFC closing date.

Research Organisations – via a Head of Department or equivalent – must provide a host institution statement to accompany any application. This statement must outline how the department will recognise and support the Leadership Fellow and the aims of their Fellowship, should they be successful in their application.

Research organisations should:

  • provide Public Engagement Leadership Fellows with the appropriate level of assistance and support required to make the fellowship a success;
  • recognise and value Public Engagement Leadership Fellows as outstanding science communicators who have won personal, competitive awards and play an important role in encouraging engagement with UK science and technology;
  • consider Public Engagement Leadership Fellows as an important part of their research capability, and ensure that their work is integrated into the host department as part of the research organisation’s activities.

1.3 Applicant Eligibility

STFC Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement are open to any applicant who can demonstrate a strong and prolonged track record of research in an STFC-funded area of science and technology, or can demonstrate a strong track record of research that has been clearly underpinned by use of STFC’s national or international laboratories and facilities.

Applicants must have a demonstrable record of success in planning, delivering, and evaluating public engagement activities to a wide range of audiences.

1.3.1 Applicant Career Stages

The STFC Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement is a single funding scheme that can support individuals at different stages of their career, which we broadly separate into two categories – ‘early career’ and ‘established career’.

In broad terms, ‘early career’ researchers may be considered to be those who have completed their highest level of academic qualification within the ten years prior to the point of application (not including any career breaks). Applicants in post-doctoral research associate positions are entitled to apply for a Leadership Fellowship. ‘Established career’ researchers are those outside of the ‘early career’ category.

Candidates will be asked to specify which career stage they consider themselves to belong to as part of their application. STFC reserves the right to make a final decision as to which career stage it considers an applicant to fit for the purposes of peer review decisions.

1.3.2 Applicant Person Specification

Irrespective of an applicant’s career stage, STFC expects to support only the highest-quality candidates who can demonstrate outstanding personal qualities relative to their level of experience. To determine the suitability of an applicant, we assess applicants according to the following ‘person specification’, which forms the basis of our peer review requirements and assessment criteria.

Personal attribute

Early career requirement

Established career requirement

Research or

technical expertise

  • Has a high-quality track record of research or technical achievement, and makes clear efforts to increase the likelihood of impact occurring from their work.
  • Has an outstanding track record of research or technical achievement, including evidence of impact arising from their work.
  • Demonstrates clear evidence of national and/or international standing within their field.

Engagement expertise

  • Demonstrates an advanced understanding of what constitutes high-quality public engagement planning, delivery, and evaluation.
  • Shows evidence of leadership in delivering public engagement activities.
  • Clearly demonstrates evidence of a deep and nuanced understanding of what constitutes high-quality public engagement.
  • Clear evidence of having led and/or coordinated complex or large-scale programmes of engagement.

Strategic vision

  • Can demonstrate experience in identifying and developing opportunities, and presenting those opportunities in a strategic context.
  • Demonstrates an awareness of how to work in order to realise such opportunities.
  • Clear evidence of a skill for identifying and developing opportunities, and presenting those opportunities in a strategic context.
  • Can demonstrate how they have motivated and mobilised individuals, groups and teams from one or more organisations to deliver against a shared vision. 

Collaborative working

  • Demonstrates evidence of having worked in collaborative teams effectively.
  • Provides evidence of the benefits of team-working on their own practice.
  • Capable of self-reflecting on their own role in a team, and how to increase the effectiveness of a team in which they work.
  • Provides evidence that they can create and maintain conditions under which collaborations and teams thrive.
  • Clear evidence of fostering successful collaborative projects.
  • Evidence of having taken effective remedial action to address dysfunctional team working. 

Influence and leadership

  • Can demonstrate leadership of projects of moderate size or ambition.
  • Provides evidence of effectively influencing their peers and colleagues.
  • Can demonstrate leadership of large-scale, ambitious, and/or complex projects, including effective delegation.
  • Provides evidence of effectively influencing senior leaders in their field and/or institution.
  • Has participated in the leadership of programmes of culture change.
  • Clearly connected into and aware of the national PE landscape, and valued for their experience.

Planning and implementation

  • Demonstrates experience of project planning, management and evaluation approaches, and has evidence of applying such a structure to their work.
  • Demonstrates excellent time management and prioritisation abilities.
  • Has extensive experience of rigorous planning, management and evaluation approaches that deliver complex projects successfully.
  • Demonstrates excellent time management and prioritisation abilities.

1.3.3     Applicant Employment Status

Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement may be based at any eligible UK research organisation as set out in the STFC Research Grants Handbook. This includes STFC’s own national laboratories.

At the time of application, applicants must have a contract of employment at the UK research organisation that wholly covers the duration of the Fellowship. Leadership Fellows must be in the employment of their host research organisation when the Fellowship commences. Institutions who wish to support an applicant currently in a post-doctoral research associate position (or equivalent) must guarantee that applicant’s employment for the duration of the award, should they be successful in securing a Leadership Fellowship. This must be stated, in writing, as part of the host institution statement (section 2.2).

Anyone who wishes to apply for a Leadership Fellowship but is not employed by an approved research organisation should approach an appropriate research organisation to explore arrangements for that research organisation being willing to host the Fellowship. In this case, the hosting research organisation will need to confirm as part of their host institution statement that they are in a position to accept the Fellowship when it commences. 


1.4 Scheme Value & Costings

The maximum value that may be sought is £125K. As the scheme comes under the Full Economic Costs (FEC) framework the maximum payable by STFC would be £100K.

1.4.1 Fund Headings

The Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement scheme falls under the Full Economic Costs (FEC) framework. Therefore, all costs that contribute to the FEC of the proposal should be included under the cost headings as shown in the ‘Applying for a grant’ section of the STFC Research Grants Handbook. Please note that, as the scheme has no capital budget, applicants cannot request funds under the Equipment heading.


The time commitment and duration of a Leadership Fellowship is flexible; a typical Fellowship would be for between 20%-40% of a Leadership Fellow’s time for a period of up to 36 months. Leadership Fellows can commence their award at any time after the 1st August immediately following the application deadline. 


STFC intends this scheme to be flexible and reserves the right to deal, as it thinks fit, with application of unusual character and to waive any rule at its absolute discretion. 


STFC Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement are governed by the grant conditions as set out in the Research Grants Handbook, unless otherwise stated. Applications are accepted and awards are made on the understanding that research organisations and Leadership Fellows agree to observe the terms and conditions and the scheme requirements set out in this document and any amendments issued.

Awards are made on the understanding that the Leadership Fellow’s work and progress are subject to the same monitoring and appraisal procedures as those of other academic staff within the host institution.

1.7.1 Part Time Working

Leadership Fellowships in Public Engagement are typically awarded at 20%-40% FTE. Leadership Fellows may arrange their engagement activities in order to combine their Fellowship with caring responsibilities.

1.7.2 Extensions

After a Leadership Fellowship grant has started, the duration may be extended to cover maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave, parental leave, extended jury service or paid sick leave for a Leadership Fellow, in line with the terms and conditions of the Leadership Fellow’s employment. Otherwise, the conditions for extending the grant of a Leadership Fellow in Public Engagement are the same as apply to research grants. Any request for an extension should be made via the Grant Maintenance facility in the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S), once the required duration is known. All requests for extensions must be made before the grant ends.

1.7.3 Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Parental Leave

Leadership Fellows are entitled to take maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave in accordance with the terms and conditions of their employment. If requested, consideration will be given to allowing a Leadership Fellow’s grant to be placed in abeyance during the absence of the Leadership Fellowship for maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave, and the period of the Leadership Fellowship extended by the period of leave. Consideration will be given to requests to continue the Leadership Fellowship on a flexible basis to allow the Fellow to meet caring responsibilities.

1.7.4 Sick Leave

Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement are entitled to take sick leave in accordance with the research organisation’s terms and conditions. If requested, consideration will be given to allowing a Leadership Fellow’s grant to be placed in abeyance during the absence of the Leadership Fellow due to sick leave, and the period of the Fellowship extended by the period of sick leave. The additional salary costs for the Leadership Fellow (pro rata to their percentage FTE on the Fellowship) should be claimed, as necessary, at the end of the extended period.

1.7.5 Break in Service

Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement will be allowed a break in service not more than twice during the period of the award, for periods amounting together to not more than two years, to enable time to be spent on another related activity not supported by STFC.

Breaks in service will not normally be permitted during the first or final years of the Leadership Fellowship, unless this is on maternity or sick leave, and must be endorsed by your Head of Department. Where STFC agrees to a break in service, the duration of the Leadership Fellowship will not be extended and payments to the institution will cease for the period of the break.

1.7.6 Movement between Institutions

Applicants must take up the award at the host institution identified in the application. STFC will not allow a Leadership Fellow in Public Engagement to change their host institution prior to taking up an award. Consideration will be given to requests during the course of an award to relocate the Fellowship, together with any other grant(s) held by the Leadership Fellow, to a different institution for scientific or domestic reasons. The agreement of the institutions concerned will be required before seeking approval from STFC. Movement between institutions will not normally be allowed during the first year of a Leadership Fellowship.

1.7.7 Reporting & Liaison with STFC

Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement will be required to provide reports of activities to the STFC Public Engagement Team when requested. STFC reserves the right to request periodic information or to visit the Fellow. Leadership Fellows will be expected to meet with the STFC Public Engagement grants mentor a minimum of twice a year.

The Leadership Fellow may also be asked to attend meetings to exchange information and ideas with others undertaking STFC Public Engagement activities. The Leadership Fellow must make all reasonable efforts, if so invited, to respond to requests for information or to attend events or activities organised by the Research Council concerning the research undertaken. Such events may be held after a grant has finished.

Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement will be expected to attend an annual meeting of all STFC Leadership Fellows and other engagement grant holders.

Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement are required to regularly update the record of their Fellowship using the Research Council reporting tool, ResearchFish. This enables STFC to easily extract data regarding the impact of the work of our Fellows whenever required, and provides a tool for the Leadership Fellow to record the ongoing impact of their Fellowship.

1.7.8 Publication, Resources & Acknowledgement of Support

Publications and other forms of media communication, including media appearances, press releases and conferences, must acknowledge the support received from STFC, quoting the grant reference number if appropriate.

Resources produced as a result of any grants should acknowledge STFC as the funding source using the standard format agreed by funders and publishers and detailed in the additional information accompanying this grant.

In order to ensure appropriate coordination and opportunities to increase the impact of engagement, external media activity produced as a result of this award must be signed off by the STFC Media team before the activity takes place, or is published. This includes press releases, online videos and media briefings. Award holders are responsible for giving STFC sufficient notice in advance of activities such that STFC can advise on content, and/or build the activities of grant holders into our own communications and engagement programmes.

It is the responsibility of the research organisation, and all engaged in the research, to make every reasonable effort to ensure that the intellectual assets obtained in the course of the research, whether protected by intellectual property rights or not, are used to the benefit of society and the economy. Outcomes and resources should be disseminated and/or made available to both research and more widespread audiences - for example to inform potential users and beneficiaries of the research.

Unless stated otherwise, the ownership of all intellectual assets, including intellectual property, and responsibility for their application, rests with the organisation that generates them.

STFC may, in individual cases, reserve the right to retain ownership of intellectual assets, including intellectual property (or assign it to a third party under an exploitation agreement) and to arrange for it to be exploited for the national benefit and that of the research organisation involved. This right, if exercised, will be clearly set out in an additional grant condition.

There should be suitable recognition and reward to researchers who undertake activities that deliver benefit through the application of research outcomes. The research organisation must ensure that all those associated with the research are aware of, and accept these arrangements.

1.7.9 Organisational Support

Funding is provided in order to enable to undertake specific public engagement activities, free of some or all of the restrictions imposed by their normal employment. Awards are made on the understanding that the Leadership Fellow's work and progress are subject to the same monitoring and appraisal procedures as those of other academic staff within the host research organisation. Furthermore, awards are made on the presumption that there are adequate facilities at the host organisation to support the proposed programme of work.

1.7.10 Liability

It is a condition of every grant that STFC accepts no liability for the manner in which the work in connection with the grant is undertaken, and the research organisation and Leadership Fellow will be responsible in all respects for the work and the consequences of it.

1.7.11 Termination of Awards

A grant may be terminated, or its conditions varied, at any time at the absolute discretion of STFC. Should the Leadership Fellow leave their institution for another research organisation or an alternative type of employment, they must notify the immediately. If it is not possible to transfer the grant then STFC will terminate payments from the day immediately after the Leadership Fellow leaves the host institution. Failure to submit reports will result in termination of the award unless there are mitigating reasons.


2.0 How to apply


To create the document in Je-S you will need to select the following options:

  • Council: STFC
  • Document Type: Fellowship Proposal
  • Scheme: Public Engagement Fellowships
  • Call: Leadership Fellows in PE 2019

Applications for Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement are submitted via the Research Councils’ Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system. If you have not previously used the Je-S system to submit an application, please ensure that, well in advance of the closing date, that you have set up an account. Guidance for completion of the application is provided through the Je-S help text, available from the Je-S front page, and context-sensitive help throughout the system.

Applicants are advised to contact their host organisation’s Research Administration as soon as possible; they will be able to advise about costing your proposal and internal procedures relating to submitting an application through Je-S. Your Leadership Fellow in Public Engagement application must be costed and submitted by the host organisation.

It is important to note that when you press ‘submit’, it doesn’t mean that the application has been submitted to STFC - the application will be in your approver/submitter pool for you or your organisation to submit to the Research Council. You can track your application in Je-S by selecting the option, ‘Show Submission Path’. This shows the submission process set up by the research organisation, where the application is currently in the process, and the individuals who receive a system-generated email when the application has been submitted.

Emailed or hard copy applications will not be accepted and the page limits outlined below will be strictly enforced by STFC. If any of the supporting documents exceed the specified limits, only the pages within the limits will be considered. The documents must be submitted as .pdf attachments and should conform to the font and margin guidelines in the . 


Together with your completed Je-S application form, you will need to provide the following mandatory attachments, in .pdf format:

  • Personal Statement – maximum of two sides of A4, please use this document template and submit as a CV document type in Je-S. The personal statement should be written as address the six personal characteristics listed in the applicant person specification (section 1.3.2). Applicants should also:
    • Clearly indicate which career stage they consider themselves to fall within, with a short description of their career history to justify that categorisation.
    • Summarise any STFC public engagement awards held (currently or previously) and any similar public engagement awards.
    • Not provide a comprehensive list of publications.
  • Case for Support – maximum of eight sides of A4. The Case for Support must include the following:
    • A rationale for the Fellowship, showing the overall aims, anticipated outcomes and how activities will contribute to meeting the stated aims of the STFC Public Engagement Strategy;
    • An indication of the different engagement activities the applicant intends to undertake during the Fellowship, including production of any resources. Where reasonably possible, applicants should provide details of their plans to deliver these activities, including audience insight, relevant experience, potential risks and mitigation strategies;
    • A plan for the delivery of appropriate leadership & capacity building activities the applicant intends to undertake during the Fellowship. Where reasonably possible, applicants should provide details of their plans to deliver these activities, including relevant experience, potential risks and mitigation strategies;
    • An evaluation plan showing details of how the outputs, outcomes, and reach of the activities – and the Leadership Fellowship as a whole – will be captured and evaluated;
    • A dissemination plan detailing how resources, learning outcomes, outputs, etc. will be made available to wider audiences.
    • Justification of Resources – a maximum of two sides of A4 (of the eight total for the Case for Support). This document justifies the requested funds applied for in an application. A Justification of Resources:
      • should allow reviewers to make an informed judgement on whether the resources requested are appropriate for the proposed programme;
      • should explain why the resources requested are appropriate for the programme proposed taking into account the nature and complexity of the proposal. It should not be simply a list of the resources required as this is already given in the Je-S form.

All items requested in the Je-S form must be justified.

Any proposals requesting items that would ordinarily be found in a department, for example non-specialist computers, should include justification both for why they are required for the project and why they cannot be provided from the research organisation’s own resources (including funding from indirect costs from grants).

The Justification of Resources is a free-text document. So that you don’t miss any costings from the Je-S form or any justifications for the items requested, we recommend that you match the costs to the proposal headings below (where appropriate). Further details of how costs should be justified can be found in the ‘Supporting Information’ section of the STFC Research Grants Handbook.

  • A host institution statement for the proposal from the applicant’s Head of Department
  • Letters of support from any project partners (see section 2.3)
  • Names of two reviewers, independent of the applicant’s organisation – one or both of whom will be asked for reviewer comments if the applicant is called for interview

STFC public engagement awards are often partnerships between the grant holders (who apply for and receive financial support from STFC) and ‘project partners’. Such partnerships are not a requirement of STFC support, but will strengthen a case for funding when they are deemed well‑planned and important for delivery of an impactful programme.

Before an application is made, STFC requires that applicants create proposals that commit the involvement of all parties required to make the proposed programme a success. If an organisation wishes to receive funds from STFC, it must be a listed applicant on the grant. If an organisation will not receive funds from STFC but will have an integral role in the proposed programme, that organisation is a project partner. We encourage applicants to create these partnerships in advance of submitting an application for funding, and to include details of the partnership in the application. Well constructed partnerships strengthen proposals by providing complementary skills and knowledge, additional staff time, and additional cash or ‘in-kind’ support.

As part of the application process, project partners are invited to provide a ‘letter of support’ alongside the main body of the application. This letter is read alongside the proposal’s Case for Support, and is considered as part of the peer review process. A well written letter of support will confirm the organisation’s commitment to the proposed project by articulating the benefits of the collaboration, its relevance to the partner and the potential impacts of the programme in the eyes of the partner. The letter of support should also identify the period of support, and detail the range of ‘in-kind’ and financial contributions offered by the partner.

Letters of support can be up to two sides of A4 in length, and must be submitted on headed paper. A letter must be dated clearly, within six months of the submission date of the application. To provide assurance that the project partner has authorised the proposed contribution or commitment, the letter should be signed by a named contact, stating the capacity in which they are providing the sign-off. Letters of support are submitted electronically alongside the grant application, via the Je-S system.

Letters of support must show meaningful contribution to the proposed public engagement programme – letters featuring supportive language but offering no contributions to the project are of little-to-no value, and should not be included.

Should an applicant state in their proposal that the involvement of a party or organisation is important to increase the chances of success of their proposed programme, these organisations must be included as either applicants or project partners. Applications received without these collaborations in place by the point of submission will not be supported.

2.3.1 STFC National Laboratories and Employees as Project Partners

STFC employs hundreds of scientific and technical staff, alongside our own team of public engagement professionals based at our laboratories across the UK. Applicants for public engagement funding are welcome to seek to include STFC as project partners on public engagement applications where relevant, subject to the guidance above. Applicants must contact STFC staff at least four weeks in advance of the submission deadline if they consider STFC involvement to be important in making their proposal a success.

Should applicants wish to discuss the ability of STFC to participate in their proposal, the following individuals are appropriate first points of contact for the major national laboratory sites:

Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Daresbury Laboratory UK Astronomy Technology Centre
Sophy Palmer
Public Engagement Manager
Phill Day
Public Engagement Manager
Olivia Johnson
Public Engagement Manager
01235 445 950
01925 603 231
0131 668 8263

STFC reserves the right to choose not to participate in proposals at our own discretion. Please note that applications involving STFC as a project partner are treated no differently to other applications in the peer review and funding decision process.


Public Engagement Fellowship applications are submitted via Je-S.

2.4.1 Stage One – Application Sift Panel

All applications are initially discussed by an independent panel of peer reviewers. The peer review panel will have a range of expertise in engagement, outreach, education and communication of science and technology. The panel will also have knowledge of STFC facilities and grant funded research.

The panel selects a number of applicants to go forward to the interview stage of the scheme. The panel uses the panel assessment criteria as the basis for selection for interview:

Personal characteristics

  • Does the applicant demonstrate suitable research or technical expertise?
  • Does the applicant demonstrate suitable engagement expertise?
  • Does the applicant demonstrate sufficient strategic vision?
  • Does the applicant demonstrate sufficient evidence of collaborative working?
  • Does the applicant demonstrate the necessary influence and leadership capabilities?
  • Does the applicant demonstrate the necessary planning and implementation capabilities?

Project characteristics

  • Does the application make clear how the proposed programme matches the aims of the STFC Public Engagement Strategy?
  • Has the applicant clearly described the different engagement activities planned as part of the Leadership Fellowship?
  • Has the applicant clearly described how they plan to play a prominent role in building the capacity for public engagement within their institution or research community?
  • Has the applicant clearly identified their rationale for the proposed programme, and provided suitable evidence of the need for such work?
  • Has the applicant demonstrated the clear planning required to achieve the declared objectives of the Fellowship?
  • Has the applicant proposed an effective and suitable plan for evaluating the outputs, outcomes, and reach of all proposed activities?
  • Has the applicant proposed a suitable plan for publicising the outcomes of the Fellowship, and disseminating any resources/activities produced to wider audiences?

Institutional and partnership characteristics

  • Is the proposal accompanied by a strong Statement of Support from the applicant’s Head of Department?
  • Do any Letters of Support from project partners indicate strong buy-in to this application?

Applicants short-listed on the basis of their written application will be provided with feedback on any aspect of the application that the panel would like to explore further at the interview. Feedback will also be provided to applicants who were unsuccessful via Je-S.

2.4.2 Stage Two – Written Peer Review

For applications that are short-listed in stage one, written peer review comments will be sought; these peer reviewers are selected from those that the applicant has nominated, and those identified by the Public Engagement Team. Applicants will be given the opportunity to respond to the comments made by reviewers, through the PI Response process.

Peer reviewers are required to comment on the written assessment criteria:

Experience The research experience of the applicant and their track record in outreach and or communications work.
Expertise Whether the application has the necessary expertise and/or access to any necessary expertise to carry out the proposed programme of work effectively.
Relevance How well the proposal matches the aims of the STFC Public Engagement programme.
Impact Whether the proposed activities would make a significant impact in terms of the numbers reached and the effect on the audience.
Planning & Delivery If the planned delivery of the project is likely to achieve the declared objectives.
Evaluation Whether there are appropriate stated criteria for the success of the Fellowship and quantitative and qualitative means of evaluating them.
Overall Assessment Comments relating to the proposal that have not been made elsewhere.

2.4.3 Stage Three – Panel Interview

Applicants are required to attend a panel interview, during which they will have an opportunity to give a brief overview of their proposal, followed by detailed questioning from the panel members. The interviews will be held on a single day, usually between late-May and mid-June. Interviews typically comprise of a ten minute presentation from the applicant, followed by a question and answer session of around thirty minutes.

Aspects of the application that have been raised in the earlier peer review stages, or feedback provided, can be addressed in either part of the interview.

The panel will make final recommendations for funding on the day of the interviews, based on their assessment of the applicant’s interview performance against the panel assessment criteria, and the written peer review.

2.4.4 Stage Four – STFC Funding Decision

Based on the recommendations from the interview panel, STFC will then take decisions regarding which applications are funded. The STFC Public Engagement Team will then prepare feedback for all applicants. Once this is approved by the panel Chair, it will be added to the Je-S system and applicants notified officially of the outcome of their application. It is the intention that this process is completed within two weeks of the stage three panel meeting.

Call Activity Indicative Timetable
Call announced December 2018
Call closes 21 February 2019 at 16:00
Stage one panel short-lists applicants for interview April 2019
Stage two independent reviewer comments requested April 2019
PI responses to reviewer comments May 2019
Stage three Interview panel June 2019
Awards announced July 2019
Leadership Fellowships in PE start From August 2019 onwards

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.

  • Vicky Brightman – Imperial College London (Chair)
  • Andrea Sella – University College London
  • Tara Shears – University of Liverpool
  • Victoria Pearson – The Open University

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)


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Last updated: 23 April 2019


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