New roles to champion public engagement
24 October 2023
Two new roles have been created to provide academic leadership and support Public Engagement with Research (PER) at the University.
Professor Teresa Murjas (Film, Theatre & Television) and Dr Mark Dallas (Pharmacy) have been appointed as Academic Champions for Public Engagement with Research (PER) as part of a new Action Plan for PER. The Plan aims to support and develop best practice in public engagement across the University as part of our commitment to developing a positive and outward-facing research culture.
Shaping the future of public engagement
The two Academic Champions will act as a cornerstone for the Action Plan, to represent the needs of researchers and build a community of practice that brings together researchers and professional services staff to encourage discussion, sharing of practice and peer learning.
Working together with a PER Officer (currently being recruited), the Academic Champions will provide crucial support in furthering the development of PER skills, helping to identify training needs and to embed best-practice approaches. Their role will also raise the profile of PER within the University and represent the PER agenda internally and externally.
You can download the Action Plan from the PER page of the website. A meeting for the PER Network will be held later this term.
Championing our academic community
Teresa Murjas is a Professor of Theatre & Performance who specialises in practice-led and cross-disciplinary research. She has extensive experience of co-creating live performances and films, and of collaborating with stakeholder groups to connect with diverse audiences. Among them are heritage sector organisations such as The MERL, Reading Museum and The National Archives, and local theatre makers such as Reading Rep. Teresa’s creative research has also received several awards on the international film festival circuit.
Teresa said: “I’ve always maintained a strong commitment to collaborative and participatory research, and I feel hugely privileged to have been offered this role. I look forward to working in partnership with Mark and with professional services colleagues on nurturing and celebrating the publicly engaged work of our academic community.”
Mark Dallas is an Associate Professor of Cellular Neuroscience. His research focuses on neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia. Mark has worked with Alzheimer’s Research UK, artists and theatre companies to explain how the brain and dementia work to the public, and has supported colleagues and Early Career Researchers to get involved in PER through activities such as Pint of Science. He has also secured a Physiological Society Momentum Fellowship to build engagement resources to increase awareness of neuroscience in schools.
Mark said: “Successful public engagement with research has the power to transform and inspire others, which I have seen firsthand. Therefore, I am excited to take up this PER role to work with colleagues across the University to shape PER that works for both University staff and their audience.”
What is Public Engagement with Research?
Public engagement is our commitment to engaging different publics with our research findings and in our research processes through communication, consultation and collaboration. The aim is to strengthen trust in research inquiry and interpretation, to enhance the relevance and impact of our research, and to develop an inclusive and engaged research culture. Public engagement can take many forms including workshops, events and festivals, citizen-science projects, community consultations, and co-created research.