Celebrating Excellence Award for James Matthews
Dr James Matthews from the Cardiff Institute of Infection & Immunity receives the Celebrating Excellence Award 2012 for "Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Engagement"
Dr Matthews has made a huge contribution to the I&E mission of the University, through enthusiastic and tireless organisation of many public engagement and educational activities. He is deeply committed to improving the public understanding of science, and to developing new schemes within Cardiff University to serve this aim.
His contributions are numerous and include:
- Organising and hosting the highly successful Science in Health Public Lectures that run monthly throughout the academic year. This popular series has delivered accessible science to the public on topical subjects such as obesity, HPV vaccination, stem cells and autism. Dr Matthews hosts each lecture personally, and introduced the innovative step of allowing time for yr12 and yr13 school children to quiz the speakers about their chosen career paths and influences.
- Co-ordinating the Science in Health Live event at the Heath Campus. This is a major logistical undertaking because of the scale of the event; 500 yr12 pupils, 45 teachers, talks and 20 tours involving 150 members of staff. This one day of intense activity requires several months of planning before the event, and Dr Matthews goes through all the feedback to examine practical issues and content that may require further development. It is to his credit, and to his colleagues that this event has grown year by year, and has noticeably improved as well.
- Organised ad-hoc laboratory visits from local schools. These have included Chepstow Comprehensive and West Monmouth School.
- Personal supervision of several work experience and gap year students over the last 5 years.
- He together with Dr Anwen Williams set up a formal scheme to provide summer work experience to 30 year 12 pupils. This has allowed these students to spend time in active research laboratories, and to again an appreciation of the day to day life of a bench scientist. This has involved considerable effort liaising between schools, pupils and researchers within the School of Medicine. The first year of the scheme received excellent feedback from pupils and teachers, and the scheme remains oversubscribed.
A major aim of the University's Innovation and Engagement mission is to reach out to the local community and there is no doubt that Dr Matthew's contributions have achieved this aim. The events organised by Dr Matthews generate good news, and create a community awareness of the activities of the University. They show the general public and school children that Cardiff University is a place where great science can be heard and where great science is done.
The events organised by Dr Matthews seek to inspire the scientists and clinicians of the future. With increasing atudent fees, it is important that pupils can make an informed choice about their future studies and careers. These events demonstrate that Cardiff University can be a great place to study and to work.
- 25th October 2012