RCPath Science Communication Prize

The 2024 Science Communication Prize is now open! Submit your application by 23:59 on 29 July 2024.

What is the Science Communication Prize?

The Royal College of Pathologists Science Communication Prize is kindly sponsored by Sonic Healthcare UK. It is an award given to a pathology trainee, Foundation doctor or undergraduate who has shown excellence in their science communication activities throughout the year. The prizes aim to: 

  • cultivate awareness among pathology trainees and undergraduates about the importance of public engagement.
  • reward and recognise trainees, Foundation doctors and undergraduates who have undertaken sustained high-quality science communication activities.

There will be two prizes, one for each of the following categories.

  • Trainee category - UK pathology trainees
  • Undergraduate category - UK undergraduates and Foundation doctors

Each winner in the trainee and undergraduate category will receive £500 and be invited to accept their prize at the College's New Fellow's Ceremony, with the prize awarded by representatives of Sonic Healthcare UK. An interview with the winner will be posted on the College website.

Judging process

The decision on the Science Communication Prize winner will be made by a selection committee composed of the Vice President for Communications, Director of Publishing and Engagement and a member of the Public Engagement department. Selection by the committee will be based on evidence of a sustained commitment to high quality public engagement activities – further information is in the guidance for applicants below.

About our sponsor: Sonic Healthcare UK

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The Science Communication Prize's sponsor, Sonic Healthcare UK, are leaders in consultant-led diagnostics, innovation, value, and long-term investment in healthcare provision. They have over 30 years’ experience in the UK pathology market and have been working in partnership with the NHS for over 20 years. 

Sonic Healthcare UK has been at the forefront of COVID-19 testing for the UK since the disease first emerged. The team has developed new testing methods, worked closely with hospitals, helped others open their own labs, and by the end of September 2020 was processing more than 10,000 PCR tests a day. 

Sonic Healthcare UK, which incorporates the TDL Group of laboratories and services, is part of the Sonic Healthcare group, one of the world’s largest clinical diagnostics groups with a demonstrated track record of medical excellence. Find out more at www.sonichealthcare.co.uk.

2023 prize winners 

Our 2023 winners were Dr Zoe Rivers and Dr Charlotte Woodward. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of this competition by Sonic Healthcare UK, both winners were awarded £500 each.

Dr Charlotte Woodward

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Dr Charlotte Woodward, winner of the undergraduate/ Foundation doctor trainee prize.

Dr Charlotte Woodward is a Year Two Foundation Doctor working at St Helens & Knowsley Teaching Hospital. She has used her passion for art and digital illustration to make learning Neuroanatomy more accessible for public audiences, by using visually appealing images rather than traditional mainstream anatomy images.

While at medical school at the University of Southampton, Charlotte began to collaborate with Dr Scott Border who advocates for staff student partnerships within medical training and is the founder of ‘Soton Brain Hub’. This is a multi-media neuroanatomy and neuroscience teaching platform that provides free educational YouTube videos and Instagram images aimed at medical students and junior doctors. I am the lead content creator for the platform and my role is to produce digitally illustrated colourful infographics using an iPad Pro and the app ‘Procreate’. 

Charlotte continues to cover more diverse topics on the Brain Hub including Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome and deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease. In June 2022, Charlotte was the featured artist of the week on the American Association of Clinical Anatomists’ Twitter account, which helped to boost the global reach of ‘Soton Brain Hub’. Charlotte works in partnership with new students at the University of Southampton who provide content to accompany Charlotte’s illustrations. 

Since 2020, Charlotte has juggled her work on the Soton Brain Hub with first medical school, then with her Foundation Training. 

Q&A with Charlotte

  • How do you feel about winning this year’s RCPath Science Communication Prize? 
    I was delighted to be selected as the recipient for this year’s Science Communication Prize. I have really enjoyed using my passion for digital illustration to create educational infographics for ‘Soton Brain Hub’, a free neuroanatomy educational platform. Many students experience ‘Neuro-phobia’ when studying neuroanatomy, and my illustrations aim to alleviate some of this stress by presenting educational material in a more stylised and colourful way than traditional anatomical images. We have received positive feedback from medical students and doctors globally, but it is exciting for this work to be formally recognised by the Royal College of Pathologists.
  • Why did you enter this year's competition? 
    I was actually sent the link for the competition by a junior doctor friend who suggested that I applied after seeing my digital illustrations on Instagram. I am passionate about using social media for online learning and this competition felt like a great way to raise awareness of its benefits, particularly in the post-pandemic educational landscape. YouTube Studio analytics indicate that every second of every day someone somewhere is watching a ‘Soton Brain Hub’ video, and this highlights the scale of the work done by our team and the possible reach when engaging learners in this way.
  • What would you say to anyone who is considering entering this competition? 
    I would highly recommend applying for the Science Communication prize. It has been an enjoyable process and I think it is so important to raise awareness and celebrate the scale and diversity of work that is being done in science communication by undergraduates and trainees in the UK. 

Dr Zoe Rivers

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Dr Zoe Rivers, winner of the pathology trainee prize.

Dr Zoe Rivers is a recently qualified consultant working in histopathology at the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust. Since June 2022, Zoe has participated in 42 science communication events involving greater than 1800 school students, ranging in age from 5 to 16 years. Throughout her time as a pathology trainee, Zoe volunteered many hours to developing and delivering a range of activities aimed at inspiring young people about careers in pathology.

She created a virtual session on the journey of an appendix through a histopathology laboratory, bringing this to life for primary school children using soft toys (namely a ‘patient’ called Lenny the Lion) and clay. Zoe presented this online, interactive session 35 times between summer 2022 and summer 2023. She also delivered five hands-on in-person activities for primary school students about the skeletal, digestive and cardiovascular systems.  These sessions introduced key science concepts, using plastic anatomy models and household objects to help bring the subject to life. Zoe collaborated with several primary school teachers, to ensure that the information was presented in an engaging way, at an appropriate level and to link in with the National Curriculum’s Science Programme.

Zoe is also a STEM Ambassador and through this scheme has delivered her virtual activities for school students around the UK, from remote and rural schools in Scotland to inner-city schools in London. She has recently accepted the role of ‘Enterprise Advisor’ for New Anglia Careers Hub, offering an opportunity for her to develop her science communication events for secondary school children and to inspire students to consider jobs within Pathology when thinking about their career options.

In 2019, Zoe wrote an article for the RCPath’s Bulletin about one of her teaching sessions. The article inspired some of my colleagues to host teaching sessions for local schools. Zoe supported these colleagues by giving advice and loaning them resources for their events.

Q&A with Zoe

  • How do you feel about winning this year’s RCPath Science Communication Prize? 
    I am delighted to have been selected as this year’s winner in the trainee category of the RCPath Science Communication Prize. It is amazing to have my in-person and virtual interactive science sessions recognised and appreciated.
  • Why did you enter this year's competition? 
    As someone who didn’t excel at school, finding more academic subjects challenging, I am passionate about bringing science to life for students in a fun and engaging way. I entered this year’s competition in the hope of showing colleagues the difference they can make to young people’s education by volunteering a few hours of their time to local schools. Students love hearing real life stories and getting involved with hands-on science experiments. 
  • What would you say to anyone who is considering entering this competition? 
    My advice would be to apply. I didn’t think I would be successful, but I was! This competition is important as it highlights the incredible science communication events that are happening nationally and emphasises the importance of public engagement to help raise awareness of Pathology Services.