RISE Event - June 2014

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Highlights from the final event for the RISE (Recognising Inspirational Scientists and Engineers) Awards, in June 2014.

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Professor Phillip Nelson – Chief Executive, EPSRC [PN]

Tonight is about something we call the RISE campaign. RISE stands for Recognising Inspirational Scientists and Engineers. And we have actually identified 10 of our really outstanding scientists and engineers and we are pairing them with rising stars. These are younger people who also show great promise for being leaders of the future, so we are having some mentoring of the rising stars by the RISE leaders. Thirdly, our RISE leaders are being paired with very senior people in industry, business, government and other professions where again they can help mentor our RISE leaders and of course our RISE leaders will also be influencing these very senior people that we want to interact with.

Dr Paul Golby, Chair, EPSRC [PG]

So the first award is to Jim Al-Khalili of the University of Surrey. He is going to be partnered by Liam Byrne who, as you know, is the Shadow Minister of State for BIS, so a really significant partner.

Jim Al-Khalili – Professor of Physics, University of Surrey [JA]

If you look at the range of people, the champions that we are paired up with, it’s fantastic. There are people who are talking to entrepreneurs, people from industry, politicians. I think it’s going to really spread the word about the importance of science and engineering, in a way that I don’t think we will find out about until we are someway down the line.

Dr Marianne Ellis – Senior Lecturer in Biochemical Engineering, University of Bath [ME]

I am one of 10 rising stars and I was nominated by Professor Kevin Shakesheff from Nottingham. Having recognition from someone like Kevin is, for me, very humbling. It’s actually acknowledging my potential. I will use it to build the confidence in myself and promote our field and really bring to people what it can mean for the future.


The next winner is Professor Jeremy O’Brien from the University of Bristol.

Professor Jeremy O’Brien – Professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering, University of Bristol [JO’B]

It’s really very exciting for me, but even more exciting is the nominee that I nominated for the Rising Star award, who was successful as well. He wins a British Science Association media fellowship, which is something that I did several years ago and was an excellent experience. We have heard a lot about the need for a large number of scientists and engineers in the future and I think the more inspiration people can provide to young people about the excitement and the benefits of being involved in that the better.

Dr Jason Nurse – Researcher, Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford [JN]

I am going to be paired with Professor Sadie Creese from the same department at Oxford and we will be looking towards understanding cyber security better, understanding how people treat security and understand the basic concepts and stuff like that. And also what we are trying to do is look into the link between security and computer science and also psychology and marry the disciplines more.


The final winner in the leader’s category is Professor Rachel Williams of the University of Liverpool.

Professor Rachel Williams – Group Leader, Clinical Engineering Research Group, University of Liverpool [RW]

I have been partnered with Sir Mark Walport who is the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government. I am meeting him briefly tomorrow, but I am hoping that I am going to be able to invite him up to Liverpool to meet some of the young people I work with and some of the early career researchers so they can explain a little bit about the work they are doing as well.


Again, in my own personal experience, I have seen so many times that really outstanding work is very often inspired by one or two really very critical people and it’s those people that do the leading that really make things happen. It’s those people that really make the whole system so effective, so its recognising that which is the real objective here.


Although public engagement and the popularising of science and engineering is something we do very well in the UK, a lot of these rising stars are deeply into their research, that is their main priority now. They are making a name for themselves in their research field, so they don’t really have time to look around, stick their head up and spread the word. This gives them an opportunity to show off just how great innovation, engineering, technology and science is in this country.