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Materials Scientist and Engineer Mark Miodownik of University College London Receives the 2015 AAAS Public Engagement with Science Award

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has named Mark Miodownik the recipient of the 2015 AAAS Public Engagement with Science Award, recognizing “his enthusiastic and successful commitment to public engagement, igniting a sense of wonder about the world by unveiling the interplay between science, engineering, and the society.”

Miodownik, a researcher and teacher at University College London and director of its Institute of Making, has championed engineering and materials science in a wide variety of public forums.

“By connecting research with visible practice and public events, Mark makes a very important statement: the innovators of future must be more publicly focused and open to dialogue, in what they do and how they do it,” said Molly Stevens of the Imperial College London Department of Materials, citing the Miodownik’s role in the numerous public open days, master classes, and workshops held at the Institute of Making, a multidisciplinary research club and materials library located in the heart of the University College London. A recent open day at the institute drew more than 1,300 members of the public.

In 2010, Miodownik was invited by the Royal Institution of Great Britain to give its Christmas Lectures, a series of science lectures for children dating back to 1825. Miodownik’s lecture series, Size Matters, brought materials science and engineering to a broadcast audience of more than 8 million children and families. He reached an even larger audience when a DVD of the lectures was distributed free to all schools in the United Kingdom.

Mark Miodownik
Materials scientist and engineer Mark Miodownik earned the 2015 AAAS Public Engagement with Science Award. | Photo courtesy of Mark Miodownik

Miodownik has also brought materials science to the public through a massive open online course (MOOC). His 2015 edX course, Introduction to Steel, drew 7,200 participants from 139 countries.

Miodownik presented the first-ever BBC series on materials engineering, How It Works, which aired in worldwide in 2012. He regularly presents science and engineering programming for BBC and frequently writes and presents radio programs on a diverse array of subjects.

His 2013 book, Stuff Matters: The Strange Stories of the Marvellous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World, was a New York Times best-seller and earned the 2014 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books. He writes for U.K. newspapers the Guardian and the Observer and contributes reviews of engineering books to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Miodownik earned his degrees from Oxford University: a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in materials science and a Ph.D. from the university’s Materials Science Department. His research focus at the UCL Institute of Making is animate matter, innovative manufacturing, and sensoaesthetic materials—the application of scientific methodology to the aesthetic, sensual, and emotional side of materials, an area of study he helped create. Miodownik, who earned the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Rooke Medal in 2013 for his work to promote engineering to the public, was named an elected fellow of the academy in 2014. He has also been named an elected fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals, and Mining.

The AAAS Award for Public Engagement with Science, established in 1987, recognizes scientists and engineers who make outstanding contributions to the “popularization of science.” The award conveys a monetary prize of $5,000, a commemorative plaque, complimentary registration, and travel to the AAAS Annual Meeting.

The award will be bestowed upon Miodownik during the 182nd AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., 11-15 February 2016. The AAAS Awards Ceremony and Reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, February 12, in Palladian Ballroom of the Omni Shoreham Hotel.