Public Engagement and Science Communication Awards

The BES Public Engagement and Science Communication Awards recognise BES members who are in the early stages of their experience in public engagement and science communication, and have led engagement projects about ecological science with publics that serve as a great example to others.


2021 Award Winners

Aaron de Verés – ‘Plants and Out Health‘ Podcast
– Overall Winner and Category Winner

In their own words: “Plants & Our Health is a 10-episode podcast series where host Aaron de Verés chats to experts across many fields to uncover surprising and important ways plants support human health and wellbeing. A collaboration between Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Not Another Science Podcast, the series aimed to engage the plant curious with key ecological ideas and action they can take, whether in their everyday lives or in their career, to conserve plants, safeguard their health, and improve our relationship with the world of plants.”

RBGE website for a short podcast summary and links to episodes featuring RBGE staff:

Anchor page for Not Another Science Podcast; episodes were released through the podcast Not Another Science Podcast. On this Anchor page you can find them (the ones marked Plants & Our Health), and also find links to other sites where you can listen to them (e.g. Google Podcasts, Spotify):


Kate Howlett and Matthew Hayes – ○ Wildlife on your Doorstep: The Potential of Primary School Grounds for Engaging School Communities with the Natural World
– Category Winner

In their own words: “‘Wildlife on your Doorstep’ engaged schools with local wildlife by lending them ecological equipment they would not otherwise have access to, in the form of a camera trap, along with linked resources so they could make the most of this learning opportunity. These included guidance on setting up the camera trap and several Key-Stage-2-linked activities, covering science, English, maths, art and design, and computing. Recorded footage was uploaded to an online repository, which is freely accessible to future schools. All equipment has now been incorporated into the Museum of Zoology loans system, which lends resources to schools for free.


Rebekah White and Thomas Land –
– Highly Commended

In their own words: “Two researchers approach the science of life, debunk myths, and maybe have a few laughs along the way.

We believe that so many people who think science is ‘too hard to understand’ or ‘boring’ just have not had it explained to them properly or have missed the cool bits. Now more than ever, science communication is becoming increasingly important, so it is those people we want to reach the most.

We think the more that people understand, the more they will want to engage. We started this podcast saying that even if we get through to one more person, that will be a success. Then we can reach out to another person. And another, and another…



Joshua Powell – ‘Saving Britain’s Islands: A Conservation Short Film’
– Highly Commended

In their own words: “My project was to create of a short film on island conservation in New Zealand and South Georgia, supported by a live launch event and expert panel Q&A with ZSL and a series of blogs providing careers advice on how to get involved in island conservation.”

Watch the film, here:




Applications now closed – reopening in 2022

See below for full guidelines and information on how to apply.

The Awards provide a maximum of £250 to winners of multiple categories of projects as listed below, and multiple ‘Highly Commended’ submissions may also be recognised with potential prizes awarded. All awardees will be featured on the BES website, social media, and other communications.

Activities the Awards can support

The list below includes a non-exhaustive selection of activities suitable for funding. Activities not listed will be considered if they meet the strategic aims of the Society and Fund outlined above.

  • In-person public events
  • Public installations
  • Digital events and activities
  • Science writing
  • Resource production
  • Citizen and civic (participatory) science

The Awards particularly encourage applications that:

  • Support BES members new to conducting public engagement and science communication
  • Provide examples of best practice in engagement
  • Act as case studies to inspire others to participate or lead public engagement activities
  • Pilot novel methods of communicating with public audiences, particularly when engagement may inform behavioural change or encourage ecological career prospects
  • Add ecological impact to existing projects or events lacking such content
  • Encourage interdisciplinary collaborations
  • Produce digital and physical engagement materials others can subsequently use

You can see case studies of BES members’ public engagement projects on the BES website.



Submissions contravening any single criterion below will be rejected upon receipt.

  • BES Member: Only BES members are eligible to apply (if you are submitting as part of a team, the submission must be led by the BES member)
  • Ecologist: One or more ecologists must be involved in leading the project. This can include current or past students, researchers, practitioners etc.
  • Individual and team projects: Projects can be supported that are led either by an individual or as a team
  • Professional: We are unable to accept applications from individuals who are in paid employment in an engagement role, or if engagement is a primary responsibility of your paid role.
  • New to Engagement: You must have less than five years experience in delivering public engagement and science communication activities
  • Public communication focus: The project must focus explicitly on the communication of ecological science and practice to public audiences. Applications will not be accepted in support of activities purely focused in formal education (e.g. classroom) activities, or for academic or closed meetings, or training events or workshops that do not have public engagement and/or science communication at their core.
  • Clearly defined project: It must be clear what component of the project you led, and made clear what surrounding activity was not led by yourself (e.g. if you are contributing one talk in a series organised by others).
  • Recent activity: For our 2021 awards, projects must have been delivered during since March 1st 2020 to coincide with the period of the covid-19 pandemic
  • Past awardees: Applications cannot be accepted from individuals who have successfully been awarded a BES Public Engagement Award within the last 12 months.
  • Apolitical: Projects cannot have a political affiliation or a political agenda.

Application process and assessment criteria

Application forms are available to download from the BES Public Engagement and Science Communication Awards webpage, and must be submitted via email to

Applications will be assessed based on the following criteria:

  • Eligibility as outlined in the sections above
  • Audience: How well-defined target audiences are, and how well the methods for reaching and communicating with those audiences occurred.
  • Evaluation: rigour of evaluation methods and presentation of outcomes/impacts of the project, and learning outcomes for the organisers.
  • Impact: How well defined the impact aims and objectives of the project were, and how these were achieved.
  • Quality: The overall quality of the product. Consider innovation?
  • Equality Diversity and Inclusion: Efforts to ensure accessibility of participation for both public audiences and organisers / volunteers will also be considered across all of the above where relevant to the project.
  • Clarity of submission form: clear details and language