Dr Tansy Hammarton is a Senior Lecturer in parasitology at the University of Glasgow. At the Microbiology Society Annual Conference 2018, she was awarded the 2018 Peter Wildy Prize for her outstanding contribution to science communication and education.
In her Prize Lecture ‘Explorations in microbiology: inspiring the next generation’, Tansy describes her personal career pathway, highlighting the benefit that summer research placements had in cementing her plans to move into an academic career and the unexpected ways in which ladybirds kept cropping up at various stages of her career. She goes into detail about many of her public engagement workshops, acknowledging challenges and successes, and offering advice to those who want to get involved themselves.
Tansy was interested in the natural world from a young age, crediting a citizen science project with igniting her love of asking questions and figuring out the answers. Her passion for microbiology began during her undergraduate degree, where she discovered parasitology, and she became involved in public engagement post-PhD as a result of a prestigious RCUK academic fellowship. She realised that outreach was not something that her department was doing and so took the opportunity to design exciting and stimulating workshops. Since then she has taken her enthusiasm for microbiology into nurseries, schools and specialised undergraduate modules, teaching others the important of science and outreach.
The public engagement delivered by Tansy has had a tangible effect on the motivation of school pupils to continue with science, their confidence and their ability to analyse critically the information presented in the wider media.