Health Sciences research on inequality and obesity to be presented at prestigious lecture

A researcher from Leicester has been recognised for his excellent communication skills and efforts to share his work with the general public.

The British Science Association (BSA) has announced the winners of its prestigious Award Lectures for 2018. Seven top UK researchers have been recognised for their cutting-edge work and engaging communication skills after a competitive selection process.

Dr Oli Williams from our Department of Health Sciences has been awarded The Margaret Mead Award Lecture for Social Sciences.He joins an illustrious group of Award Lecture recipients that includes: Professor Brian Cox (winner in 2006), Maggie Aderin-Pocock (winner in 2008), and Richard Wiseman (winner in 2002).

Each Award Lecture winner will be celebrated at the British Science Festival in Hull, where they will give a special talk about their innovative research. Dr Williams will explore the link between socioeconomic inequality and the "obesity epidemic", examining the current weight-based stigma and how this is impacting the most vulnerable in society. Most recently, he discussed his work in a podcast with registered nutritionist Laura Thomas PhD and collaborated on the evidence-based comic book The Weight of Expectation, funded by the Wellcome Trust ISFF, which illustrates the social determinants of obesity and the stigma associated with bodyweight.

Dr Williams said: "It was exciting just to be nominated for this prestigious award but to win it is incredibly gratifying. As an early career researcher, there’s a lot of time pressures and they’re often focused towards academic outputs with little time for wider dissemination, so the public engagement projects we’ve done as AWL have all been labours of love. Having those efforts recognised in this way means a great deal to me personally, and is testament to the talents of all those who we’ve collaborated with.

"I am very grateful to Professor Ellen Annandale (University of York) who nominated me for this award and has always been supportive of my endeavours to communicate research in accessible and engaging ways."

Dr Marie Nugent, Public Engagement Manager for the College of Life Sciences, said: "It’s fantastic to see what can come from doing great public engagement work and for it to have led to this prestigious award is inspiring. Oli’s passion for his research and equality has been channelled effectively to spread a very powerful message in an exciting and accessible way."

The Award Lectures have been presented at the British Science Festival since 1990. They celebrate and promote front line research being carried out in the UK by talented early-career scientists. The Awards recognise researchers’ excellent communication skills and their ability to demonstrate the social and societal aspects of their work.

This year’s British Science Festival will take place later from Tuesday 11 to Friday 14 September, hosted by the University of Hull, with over 100 events on campus and throughout the city. It provides an opportunity to meet researchers face-to-face and discuss cutting-edge research, innovation and ideas in science, technology and engineering.

All events are free, but booking is required, as spaces are limited.