Engage Awards: Individual-led Projects

In her last blog, Laura Steele took a look at the nominees in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences category of our Engage Awards 2016 competition. In today’s edition, she looks at the projects that have made the shortlist in the Individual-led category.

One of the things that strikes me when I look through the nominees for the Engage Awards, not only for 2016 but also for the inaugural competition in 2014, is the sheer level of passion, commitment and drive that’s required to lead, develop and manage a project to a successful conclusion.

That’s never more apparent than in the category that celebrates engaged research that has been inspired by and led by an individual. Although there is strong teamwork behind all the entries in the Individual-led category, it is the determination of one person that breathes life into all of them.

This year the nominees include projects that tackled eye health, attitudes to solar energy and loneliness.

Eating For Eye Health

Rose Gilbert’s was inspired to support people who have dry age-related macular degeneration to benefit from research suggesting certain food stuffs could help. Her project is a significant step forward in finding a way of tackling a condition that affects 600,000 in the UK, and for which there’s currently no approved cure.

Rose, a PhD student at University College London, worked with the Institute of Ophthalmology, Moorfields-NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, and the Macular Society, to raise awareness of recipes that are good for eye health, researching cooking preferences, and developing the skills that would allow people to make best use of the research findings.

Take 7

At the University of Sussex, another PhD student, Nicolette Fox, set out to investigate the impact of giving families vulnerable to fuel poverty the opportunity to generate and use renewable energy.

The results of her Take 7 project showed that having access to solar energy had a remarkable impact on those families - changing their attitudes to energy consumption,  saving them between £20 and £50 a month during the summer, and inspiring them to share what they had learnt.

Writing Back

University of Leeds PhD student Georgina Binnie sought to solve the problem of loneliness among both older and younger people by matching them as pen pals. Loneliness affects 3.7m older people in the UK, but something as simple as letter writing can really make a difference.

University of Leeds students wrote themed letters around the centenary of the First World War, drawing on material from the Leodis photographic archive and the Brotherton Library’s Liddle collection, whilst the older pen friends shared their own insights and experiences, opening up a remarkable and moving conversation between two generations, and building a rich repository of letters and participant questionnaires

The three projects will be assessed by our competition judges on November 28 and the results will be announced during the Engage Awards 2016 event that takes place the following evening.

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