Posters in Parliament Awards Presentation
Posted on: February 17, 2015 by: Helen Hewertson
Presentation speech by Sir Anthony Cleaver Hon FREng, FRCM
“First, may I say how delighted I am to have had the opportunity to review so many good posters here today. As judges, we only had time to see the eleven that were short-listed but, judging by these, I am sure the overall standard was very high, so you should all be very proud of your achievement in getting this far, regardless of whether you win an award.
Research is one of the UK’s greatest strengths. One of the ways in which this is measured is by the number of times research is cited in papers published in the top journals. I hope you will forgive me if, as Chairman of NERC, I use NERC’s outstanding record to illustrate this. UK is rated first in the world for environmental science by this measure. Environmental science leads all other UK research fields on citation impact, our environmental scientists produce more top-ranked publications per pound invested than any comparable nation and NERC-funded scientists achieve twice the world average for citations.
So we start with a strong position. However, we need to maintain it and that brings us to the importance of this event – as one way of encouraging the next generation of research by recognising research performance at the undergraduate level.
The judges were asked to assess the entries on three criteria – the quality of the research; the extent of the student’s personal contribution and their ability to explain their conclusions to a non-specialist audience. Just the right criteria my view. First, this competition encourages undergraduates to start to learn how to do research at an early stage. Then it encourages them to learn how to communicate their findings to a lay audience – in my experience a skill often not sufficiently developed by much more senior researchers. As an arts graduate myself I have sometimes remarked to my scientific colleagues that they would gain more support if they were as skilful with their words as they are with their numbers. And third, many of you probably don’t know exactly what you will do after you graduate, I certainly didn’t as an undergraduate, and you will, in any case, be working in a different world from today, given the level of change you are bound to encounter in your careers. One of the most striking aspects as we went round today was that in nearly every case the project had meant that the research had to draw on disciplines outside the student’s own field of study – illustrating the ever-increasing importance of inter-disciplinarity, a lesson it is never too soon to learn.
As I said at the beginning, the overall standard was very high but we were asked to choose just two winners, so the first prize goes to Francesca Jaroszynska for her poster on “100 years of alpine vegetation change in Perthshire”. Next we chose Aniket De for “Living gods in borderlands: religion, nationalism and performance along the Indo-Bangladesh border”. And we felt that a third entry really deserved a prize – and here I had to declare a potential conflict of interest, as one of her supervisors is funded by NERC – Lucinda McGregor for “the reliability of cloud representation in climate models”.
Congratulations to all of you.”