The Bridging the Gaps Award for Outstanding Excellence in Public Engagement


Dr Richard Johnston, College of Engineering       

“Research as Art” 

Rich Chris 3  Richard Lou Rhian 3‌Developed by Dr Johnston as a personal project, and supported by the Swansea University Research Forum, the Research as Art project has run successfully for the last four years, with exhibitions at the Royal Institution London and Swansea’s Grand Theatre.  Each year has seen an increase in engagement by Swansea researchers, and also with the public. 2012 and 2013 saw the initiative gain significant press coverage (Guardian, BBC, The Sun, Fox News, MSNBC, Western Mail). Research as Art has been featured on the front landing webpages for The Guardian and The Sun, providing unprecedented coverage for Swansea University and individual researchers’ work.


Research as Art has nurtured relationships with high-profile and influential people via the selection of its judging panel. Judges include Prof. John Womersley (CEO of STFC Research Council), Dr Gail Cardew (Director of Science and Education at the Royal Institution), Flora Graham (Editor at New Scientist), and Kathleen Soriano (Director of Exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts). The University Communications Office estimates that Research as Art has reached more than 50 million people to date, with an equivalent media value well in excess of £1 Million (excluding BBC coverage).


Judges’ comments: 

“Research as Art develops the engagement skills of researchers from undergraduate level to professor. It has increased the confidence of the entrants and encouraged them to take part in further engagement activities within their individual research groups”.

“Research as Art is a true testament to how our researchers can captivate audiences and inspire individuals to think beyond traditional boundaries.”

“Research as Art has singlehandedly brought Swansea University to the attention of both national and international audiences, it is a masterstroke!”


Nick Owen and team, Sports Science, College of Engineering

“The Skeleton Archers of the Warship Mary Rose”

Nick Owen

Swansea University first started a collaborative project with the Mary Rose Trust in 2011, initially as two sponsored undergraduate dissertations investigating new techniques for measuring bones and different methods for assessing occupational activity. With grants from Bridging The Gaps and Knowledge Exchange Scholarship Scheme the project expanded to investigate, using new techniques developed at Swansea, not only the effect of a lifetime of hyper-archery on medieval archers’ bones but also the very basis of the their identity – generating significant media coverage and opportunities for public engagement..

Judges’ comments:

“Benefits to cultural and scientific audiences, impressive reach and estimates of value provided with potential for further international reach in the offing.  Very good evidence for media coverage via BBC and national newspapers”.


Dr Richard Johnston, Dr Ian Mabbett, College of Engineering      

“Materials Live!”

Materials Live

An innovative Swansea University outreach and engagement project, which introduces the wonder of materials science and engineering to entertain, enthuse and educate the scientists and engineers of the future. Part of Swansea’s Materials Academy, Materials Live! aims to: Provide activities that enrich the Key Stages 1- 4 Science National Curriculum in addition to A/AS level curricula; encourage people to study STEM subjects related careers and engage with teachers and deliver CPD activities to enhance the materials science-related content in their lessons.

The project has trained 49 ambassadors; over 310 children have visited the university for Materials Live! activities, has delivered talks to 1269 children and college students and delivered activities at 9 large STEM events, surpassing all targets.

Judges’ comments:

“Excellent initiative promoting science subjects and related careers and impressive numbers cited for reach, and in excess of targets.”