USW researchers honoured at impact and innovation awards ceremony

Prof Ruth McElroy and Prof Helen Langton - Impact and Innovation Awards

Professor Ruth McElroy receives the Best Impact in Wales award from Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen Langton

The winners of the inaugural Impact and Innovation Awards at USW have been named at an awards ceremony at the University's Pontypridd Campus in Treforest.

Winners were announced in four categories.

Best International Impact: Dr Ali Wardak – Faculty of Business and Society

Dr Wardak received the award in recognition of the impact of his research which has influenced the development of a fairer and more efficient justice system in Afghanistan.

Other category finalists included:

  • Professor Florence Ayisi (FCI), “Zanzibar Soccer Queens and its Impact on Civil Society and Cultural Life in Africa and Europe”
  • Professor Damian Bailey (FLSE), “Saving our brains from dementia; move your muscles, move your mind!”
  • Dr Christina Papagiannouli (FCI), “Political Cyberformance: The Etheatre Project”
  • Dr Biao Zeng (FLSE), “Biosignal-based wearable communication-aid headband: cost-effectiveness healthcare for aging and communication difficulty groups”

Best Impact in Wales: Professor Ruth McElroy – Faculty of Creative Industries

Professor McElroy received the award along with Professor Paul Carr and Professor Lisa Lewis, on behalf of the Centre for Media and Culture in Small Nations for the impact their research has had on public policy and the development of Welsh cultural and creative organisations.  

Other category finalists included:

  • Professor Catherine Farrell (FBS), “Improving Governance in Schools”           
  • Dr Robert Smith (FCI), “Wonderbrass: creating a participatory community through music”


Best Team Collaboration: The Helen Kegie Centre for Therapies – Faculty of Life Sciences and Education

The award was presented to a team based at USW’s Newport Campus that set up The Helen Kegie Centre for Therapies, a community counselling clinic, in partnership with statutory and third sector partners which has changed lives locally and established USW as the centre of excellence in therapeutic services in Wales.

Other category finalists included:

  • Dr Janusz Kulon (FCES), “Meeting the diagnostic and postural assessment needs of individuals with musculoskeletal deformities”
  • Sharan Johnstone (FCES), “Innovation through Collaboration, bridging the gap from Academia to Employment”
  • Dr Robert Smith (FCI), “Graveyard Voices: A Site-Specific Perambulatory Theatre Piece Through Cathays Cemetery”
  • Dr Carolyn Wallace (FLSE), “Working together: Developing and Measuring Family Resilience across Wales”         
  • Dr Catherine Purcell (FLSE), “Developing a Road Crossing Educational Computer Game for Primary Schools – an innovative collaboration between USW Psychology and USW Computing”         
  • Professor Mark Williams (FLSE), “Realizing potential working with the Medical Devices Industry, forging links between business and academia in the healthcare setting”

Best Contribution to Society: Dr Ceri Bowley – Faculty of Life Sciences and Education

Dr Bowley picked up the award along with Professor Brendan Cropley for the way their research had been adopted by grassroots sports coaching organisations to help young people develop ‘life skills’.

Other category finalists included:

  • Dr Mike Chick (FBS), “English language teacher education and the integration of refugees and asylum seekers: How universities can help”
  • Karyn Davies (FLSE), “Our part in creating a Dementia Supportive Wales”     
  • Paula Hopes (FLSE), “Developing a service user blog”
  • Dr Martin Graff (FLSE), “The Impact of Online Romantic Relationships on Health and Wellbeing”
  • Prof Joyce Kenkre (FLSE), “Patient and Public involvement in Research and the development of Social Capital”

Local entrepreneur, Aimee Bateman, a USW graduate and founder of Career Cake, said: ‘I was absolutely honoured to be asked to come and present these awards at the University of South Wales. To be doing something around impact and innovation is really special to me. I’m out there every day trying to make an impact in my business as an entrepreneur, and innovation is how we are all going to win, so to be part of that today is really special.

“The knowledge exchange between researchers at universities and people out there running companies is really important. If you have a look at political, economical, environmental, technological advances, there is so much going on out there, things that we can’t even predict. The world is changing and to be able to have that knowledge and to have people with those expertise, doing that research and making that impact, is vital.”

Professor Helen Langton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor  (Academic Development), presented the awards to the winners. She said: “These awards help us to celebrate areas that are sometimes hidden and not seen quite so much, so to be able to actually raise their profile, raise the profile of colleagues and teams, is absolutely critical and I’m really proud to be here today.

“The nature of much of the research that we do at the university is applied research, not all of it but the vast majority. And therefore you would expect to have significant impact and that can be financial, economic, cultural, societal – lots of different impact. But our research is all about making a difference, our University is all about making a difference to individuals, to society, so for us that impact is critical, it’s part of our DNA and who we are.

“Well done to all of our award winners!”

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