The British Science Association (BSA) is pleased to announce the winners of its prestigious Award Lectures for 2019. Following a competitive selection process, seven top UK researchers have been recognised for their cutting-edge work and committed public engagement efforts. 
The winners and their respective Awards are: 

  • Dr Mohammed Jawad, Imperial College London, is the Charles Darwin Award Lecture winner for Agriculture, Biological and Medical Sciences; 

  • Dr Nikki Power, Lancaster University, is the Margaret Mead Award Lecture winner for Social Sciences 

  • Dr Laura Tisdall, Queen Mary University of London, is the Jacob Bronowski Award Lecture winner for Science and the Arts 

  • Dr Diva Amon, Natural History Museum, London, is the Charles Lyell Award Lecture winner for Environmental Sciences 

  • Dr Stuart Higgins, Imperial College London, is the Daphne Oram Award Lecture winner for Digital Innovation 

  • Dr Jessica Boland, University of Manchester, is the Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award Lecture winner for Engineering, Technology and Industry 

  • Dr Sarah Rugheimer, University of Oxford, is the Rosalind Franklin Award Lecture winner for Physical Sciences and Mathematics 

Each Award Lecturer will give a special talk at the British Science Festival on their latest research. The British Science Festival is taking place between 10-13 September in Coventry and Warwickshire, in partnership with the University of Warwick. 

Ivvet Modinou, Director of the British Science Festival, said: “We’re delighted with the year’s cohort of Award Lecturers. The standard of entries was extremely high, and the selection process tough, so we’d like to extend our warmest congratulations to this year’s recipients.  

“There’s so much amazing science happening across the country that unfortunately doesn’t get the attention it should, so we’re thrilled to offer these talented early-career researchers the chance to showcase their work at the British Science Festival this year. Their talks are not to be missed!”  
The Award Lectures have been presented since 1990. They are to recognise and promote the pivotal research being carried out in the UK by early-career scientists. Notable Award Lecture winners include: Professor Brian Cox (winner in 2006), Maggie Aderin-Pocock (2008) and Richard Wiseman (2002). 

About the 2019 Award Lectures 

Charles Darwin Award for Agricultural, Biological and Medical Sciences  

Dr Mohammed Jawad, Imperial College London   

Lecture: Changing how we think about war and health   

When armed conflicts involve weaponry, they can cause life-threatening physical injuries, so it may seem obvious that war is bad for health. Yet cases of serious diseases like cancer also dramatically increase in times of unrest. While ‘armed conflict’ conjures images of tanks and guns, in reality, it's a broad term that is hard to define – including varying degrees of political instability and tension. Drawing on recent conflicts and his own experiences in hostile zones, medical doctor and researcher at Imperial College London, Mohammed Jawad explores the definition of ‘armed conflict’ and looks at the disproportionate health effects of war on women and children, who are often left trying to survive in war zones.  

Charles Lyell Award for Environmental Sciences   

Dr Diva Amon, Natural History Museum, London 

Lecture: Out of sight and under pressure in the deep blue   

We know less about the deep ocean than the surface of the Moon, but what we have discovered so far is an extraordinary array of living beings and landscapes. However, these are at threat. As demand for metals increases, especially for green technologies that may help to combat climate change, the next frontier of mining will likely be in the deep-sea. This could alter our oceans irreparably. Regulation is currently lacking, but marine biologist and co-founder of SpeSeas, Diva Amon, is working to change this. By characterising deep-ocean animals at the Natural History Museum in London, she is paving the way to a better understanding of this alien landscape and ultimately, its management. Take the plunge with her to discover how such research is influencing policy-makers worldwide.   

Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award for Engineering, Technology and Industry  

Dr Jessica Boland, University of Manchester  

Lecture: Smaller, better, faster: 21st century nanomaterials  

How do you study the incredibly small? Nanomaterials are crucial for ‘nanodevices’, which have impacts in food production, medicine and controlling pollution. But working on such small materials (one billionth of a metre) in size isn’t easy. Despite this, Jessica Boland is managing to examine new, cutting-edge nanomaterials by using a special visualisation technique, which works 100 times faster than any other. Join the Institute of Physics Jocelyn Bell Burnell Medal and Prize winner in this talk, exploring how her research at the University of Manchester has the potential to drastically change society, contributing to the creation of a new generation of nanodevices that are smaller, better and faster.    

Margaret Mead Award for Social Sciences  

Dr Nikki Power, Lancaster University  

Lecture: Life or death? You decide   

From what clothes to put on in the morning to what time to go bed, people make hundreds of decisions every day. But what happens when decision-making goes beyond the day-to-day; when the choices you have to make can have catastrophic, even life-or-death, consequences? This is reality for those working in safety-critical environments, such as medics or emergency responders. How do you decide which patient to treat on the last bed in the intensive care unit or whether to send your firefighters into a potentially unstable burning building? Such questions are what Nikki Powers seeks to understand the psychology behind and here, drawing on her research into real-world decision making, she explores how life and death choices are made.   

Rosalind Franklin Award for Physical Sciences and Mathematics  

Dr Sarah Rugheimer, University of Oxford  

Lecture: Searching for life on other planets   

Across the universe, stars differ dramatically in size, lifespan and amount of radioactive energy they produce. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is famous for its ability to give us sunburn, but it can also be traced back to the origins of life itself. Sarah Rugheimer is an astrophysicist and the 2018 Caroline Herschel Prize winner for Promising Female Junior Astronomer in the UK. She uses UV to interpret signs of life on planets orbiting stars beyond our solar system. The University of Oxford researcher delves into whether UV can help, or hinder, our quest to answer the ultimate question: “Are we alone?”.  

Daphne Oram Award for Digital Innovation  

Dr Stuart Higgins, Imperial College London  

Lecture: Personalising tests for disease    

In hospital, it's often challenging to diagnose a medical issue without a range of complex, lengthy and invasive tests. Most only look for how much of a single molecule is present in the sample. But many conditions, such as cardiovascular disease or cancer, don’t produce a single, easy-to-spot molecule. Bringing together advances in physics, engineering and biology, Stuart Higgins from Imperial College London has invented a "one-size-fits-all" solution to diagnosing health conditions, based on technology originally developed for bendy displays. These new ‘bioelectronic’ materials to produce quick tests that can look for many different disease-associated molecules simultaneously and are part of a new generation of smartphone-based diagnostics Join him in this talk to find out how such advancements have the potential to be a "one-size-fits-all" answer to diagnosing health conditions.   

Jacob Bronowski Award for Science and The Arts  

Dr Laura Tisdall, Queen Mary University of London  

Lecture: When children became evil   

After the Second World War, portrayals of ‘evil children’ in horror and science fiction films grew rapidly in both Britain and the United States. Nothing like this had appeared in the cinema before. From characters displaying a disturbing amount of intelligence to those who were simply outright bad, why were children suddenly being presented as dangerous threats rather than innocent victims? And why was society so hungry to consume portrayals of disturbed and abnormal young people after 1945? Drawing on disciplines such as psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience, Laura Tisdall from Queen Mary University of London discloses how popular concepts of childhood were shaped during this time and how such portrayals of ‘evil children’ in cinema channelled adult concern about an uncertain future in the age of the Cold War.

Festival bookings are now open! 

See these talented Award Lecturers and attend other great events at the British Science Festival in September, all for free. 

Bookings are now open - to guarantee your place, tickets can be reserved at: