Kalai Mathee And Jonathan Tyrrell Win The 2022 Microbiology Outreach Prize
15 August 2022
The 2022 Microbiology Outreach Prize has been jointly awarded to Professor Kalai Mathee, Florida International University, USA and Dr Jonathan Tyrrell, University of Swansea, UK.
Professor Mathee was nominated for her projects Art meets Science and Engaging with New Audiences, and the way they have helped to engage with global communities of all age groups to become part of the science conversation.
Kalai said, “Science and education are not only for the privileged few. Thus, it is incumbent on us to make it accessible to all social and economic backgrounds. This outreach award truly belongs to all who try to make a difference and to those who made it possible for my dream to become a reality.”
Some highlights of Kalai’s initiatives include: speaking to communities about COVID-19 and vaccines in order to reduce medical misinformation, co-curating an exhibit with Dr M Magnus, to depict medical distrust of current healthcare disparities, emphasising the importance of ethical practices in medicine and research, and helping to develop an antibiotic dictionary as an educational tool for informing the public about antibiotic resistance.
One of Professor Mathee’s nominators, Dr Norman Fry, said that they “are delighted that their nominee Professor Kalai Mathee has been awarded the 2022 Microbiology Outreach Prize. This award is a special recognition of Kalai’s great passion and enthusiasm for engaging, encouraging and supporting both young students and the wider public to learn more about the fascinating world of microbiology.”
Dr Tyrrell was nominated for his project Superbugs, and how it has helped increase public awareness of the topics of microbiology, antimicrobial resistance, and infection biology through their Pop-Up Science Shops.
Jon said, “I would like to dedicate it to the army of volunteers and professional partners who have helped us since our inception in 2018, without whom this achievement wouldn’t have been possible. We hope that our work carries a positive impact not only for the public, but also our peers in research, public engagement and science communication, and we humbly accept this award as an encouraging sign that we are on the right track!”
One of Dr Tyrrell’s nominators, Dr Beatrix Fahnert, said that “Winning the Microbiology Outreach Prize 2022, is a much-deserved recognition of ‘Superbugs’ and further adds to its momentum, invaluably fostering microbiology literacy in society. Visitors and participants learn and enjoy the experience and can even gain insights into what microbiologists do.”
Superbugs has enabled Jon and this team to transform a retail space into an interactive microbiology experience combining exhibition, laboratory activities, games, arts/crafts and competitions. During the pandemic, they were able to adapt the project into an online interactive educational tool which featured an activity trail, a reading corner featuring stories and interactive timelines to put scientific discoveries into historical context and a feature called “Being a Scientist” where a diverse range of scientists were able to write about what they studied, their job roles and their inspiration.The Prize is awarded annually by the Society to an individual or group of microbiologists who have demonstrated an outstanding outreach initiative. Visit the Microbiology Outreach Prize page to learn more.