The Dr Katharine Giles Award: to support media training for scientists
The Dr Katharine Giles Fund aims to improve scientists’ media skills, encouraging scientists to speak to journalists and in so doing improve science reporting within the UK.
Dr Katharine Giles
Dr Katharine Giles was a NERC Research Fellow and Lecturer working at the Centre for Polar Observation and Measurement (CPOM) at UCL. Her research, until her death in an accident in 2013, led to a greater understanding of the complex interactions between sea ice cover, wind patterns and ocean circulation.
Katharine was passionate about her research and about communicating science to the public, particularly to young people. She was a co-author and presenter of the 2006 IEE Faraday Lecture “Emission Impossible – Can Technology Save the Planet” and she had the benefit of media training early in her research career as part of the Faraday Lecture preparation. It is appropriate that the fund set up in her name should help other scientists communicate their science to the public by improving their skills through good quality training.
How this Works
The ABSW Awards run annually with a number of different categories. Mostly the applicants and winners of awards are journalists; however, two particular categories do attract scientists as entrants and potential winners:
•The Dr Katharine Giles Science blog award also supported by the Dr Katharine Giles Fund
•Best student science journalist
The Dr Katharine Giles Fund will enable the winners of these awards to undertake a one day media skills training course run by the Royal Society. The fund will only be available for scientists who are not professional journalists, if the winner of either category is a professional journalist or writer then the fund will be offered to runners-up who meet the criteria.
Winners of the awards will be contacted in order to make arrangements for them to undertake the media skills course run by the Royal Society. There is no obligation for winners to undertake the course.
Of the media training 2018 winner, Katie Ember says:
I've been to numerous communication workshops and thought this would be similar but the Royal Society Media Skills Day was outstanding and exceptionally well run. The organisers managed to pack a lot into the day, including giving everyone the chance to have hands-on experience with presenting in a TV and radio setting. All of the sessions, including talks by Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Victoria Pritchard, were inspiring, motivational and thought-provoking. I wish all scientists were able to have this experience, especially these days when public engagement is becoming ever more critical. It has has given me much more confidence about communicating my research to all audiences: not just to the general public, but to my supervisors and co-workers in lab meetings. I am extremely grateful to the Katherine Giles Fund for making this possible - I wouldn't have been able to go otherwise and all my future presentations will benefit from what I've learned at the RS!
Former winner Matthew Warren says:
It was great to hear first-hand from a scientist (Maggie Aderin-Pocock) about how she became involved in the media and the strategies she uses. We performed a task in small groups where we had to explain our research to each other and write a press release about it - a great way to get thinking about how to clearly and succinctly explain scientific research.
After this we had a session run by the actress Victoria Pritchard, on voice and presentation skills. This is an element of communication you don't often learn about as a scientist, and in a short session I was definitely aware of having learned a lot about how to present myself in media interviews.
In the afternoon we practiced interviews in front of the camera and on the radio. This was the part that I was a little nervous about, but in the end I gained a lot from it - and actually quite enjoyed it! Maggie and Victoria stayed right through to the end - you don't often have the opportunity to get feedback on your performance from prominent media personalities.
So all in all, it was a great day and I gained a lot out of it. I wouldn't have been there without the Dr Katharine Giles Fund and the ABSW, so thank you all very much for the support. It is fantastic that there are these opportunities for science communicators - and I think it is especially encouraging for students, who (and I'm speaking from experience) can gain a lot from the awards and events that you put on when just starting off in their careers!