University of Dundee staff and students who go the extra mile when working with the public have been hailed by former Rector Stephen Fry.
Mr Fry, who served two terms as Rector between 1992 and 1998, praised academics and students as he announced the winners of this year’s Stephen Fry Awards for Excellence in Public Engagement.
Now in its tenth year, the awards are some of the most coveted within the University community and celebrate the people and projects that engage with wider audiences, and the benefits they bring to society.
“Dundonians, I know are very proud of their University, and for good reason,” he said in a video address. “Every year it seems to rise in the league tables and reputation around the world.
“I dare to suggest that these awards and the work that they motivate has a part to play in that success. This year the University received the highest number of nominations and the panel was very impressed by the high quality of all of the nominations.”
The 2021 Public Engagement Project of the Year was won by The Educational Comics team, who have created educational comics for partners including charities, creative economies, and the health and education sectors.
The comics tackle misunderstood medical conditions, complex scientific issues, and matters of public interest, increasing awareness of issues for a range of audiences. The project has also supported the development of 23 comics artists, as well establishing new community and project partnerships.
Dr Andrea Rodriguez, from the University’s School of Dentistry, was named Engaged Researcher of the Year for her work in co-designing a programme to improve oral health among young people experiencing homelessness.
The programme ultimately identified ways of improving how the next generation of dental, health and social care professionals interact with those without a permanent address, and even led to the creation of a knowledge exchange on youth homelessness between Scotland and Brazil.
The winner of the Engaged Early Career Researcher of the Year category was Laura Jones, a research student within the School of Social Sciences who is helping to break down the barriers that women experiencing commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) face in accessing support.
Women experiencing CSE, including those selling or exchanging sex, are understood to have limited social support, and Laura focusses her research on the formal and informal relationships that can help or hinder exiting CSE.
With the awards taking place online this year, Mr Fry stated his desire to present next year’s awards in person and reiterated his commitment to encouraging University staff to share their work with the public.
He added, “I had such a happy time in my two terms as Rector but I’m proud as punch to have awards named after me, especially as they’re public engagement awards.
“I’m a great believer in trying to make sure that university towns manage to find ways for the community, and the institutions of learning inside that community, to be proud of each other.”