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Winners of the EGU Public Engagement Grants 2019; Philip Heron (left) and Romana Hödl, Katrin Attermeyer, Laura E. Coulson, Astrid Harjung (right)

EGU news EGU Public Engagement Grants 2019 winners announced

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European Geosciences Union

EGU Public Engagement Grants 2019 winners announced

8 April 2019

Two €1000 EGU Public Engagement Grants are awarded each year to EGU members interested in developing an outreach project to raise awareness of the geosciences outside the scientific community. The EGU Outreach Committee has named Philip Heron as one of this year’s winners for his project ‘Think like a scientist’, a 7-week Earth and planetary science course taught inside prisons in England. Astrid Harjung and her colleagues Laura Coulson, Romana Hödl and Katrin Attermeyer have also won one of this year’s grants with their project ‘Biogeocaching – a scavenger hunt for the treasures of biology around Lake Lunz’.

Philip Heron, a Marie Skłodowska Curie Research Fellow at Durham University’s Department of Earth Sciences in the UK, has taught a course on plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, atmospheric science, space missions and the universe behind bars, an experience he will discuss during a poster presentation at the EGU General Assembly 2019. After a successful trial run at a prison in England, Heron will now use the EGU Public Engagement Grant to expand ‘Think like a scientist’ to two new prisons in the UK. He says: “I am very grateful for the opportunity to develop the project to new prisons and institutions. The funding will help to try and build some lasting connections between the geoscience and prison community, to work towards rehabilitation through science education and employability.”

The team of judges who evaluated the grant proposals, says: “‘Think like a scientist’ is a heart-warming proposal that addresses a segment of population that sadly does not have much access to science outreach activities. The development of this engagement activity is expected to really make a change and improve the well-being of a group who is not in the best of scenarios. The proposal demonstrates a real attention to detail, with the option to expand the idea even after the initial funding period ends. This idea will really add value to the suite of outreach activities that the EGU supports for under-represented audiences.”

A team from WasserCluster Lunz and the University of Vienna, lead by postdoctoral researcher Astrid Harjung, won the second grant. Harjung, together with Laura Coulson, Romana Hödl and Katrin Attermeyer, will use the funds to develop an exciting and educative outreach activity around Lake Lunz in Austria based on the popular Geocaching platform. “The combination of an outdoor recreational activity with information about freshwaters, climate change, and decreasing biodiversity will sensitise the public to, and raise awareness of, these hot topics in the Earth sciences,” they write in their winning proposal.

The judges say: “‘Biogeocaching – a scavenger hunt for the treasures of biology around Lake Lunz’ is a concrete and very effective idea that will be useful to residents and tourists of Lake Lunz. This is a wonderful local initiative that has an international reach. This proposal demonstrates the benefits of having a very well constructed team and clear concrete plans. We believe that the experienced team will support the development of this project and make it a real success. We hope the project team will publish their experiences so the wider science communication community can benefit from their new insight.”

The grants are for a period of 12 months and will be awarded this month. The winners will be invited to present their public-engagement work at next year’s EGU General Assembly and to participate in EGU educational and outreach activities in Vienna in 2020. They are also invited to submit a paper about their work to the journal Geoscience Communication.


Bárbara Ferreira
EGU Media and Communications Manager
Munich, Germany
Phone +49-89-2180-6703


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