Liverpool academic recognised for ‘exceptional contribution to physics education’

Cockcroft member Dr Chris Edmonds, from the University of Liverpool, has been awarded the 2021 Institute of Physics Daphne Jackson Medal and Prize in recognition of his ‘exceptional contribution to physics education, by improving access for the visually impaired, enhancing teacher training and creating award-winning teaching materials’.

A lecturer with a background in accelerator science and a passion for inclusive education, Dr Edmonds has been involved in numerous innovative outreach and engagement activities that aim to enhance physics education and communicate the importance and excitement of physics to a range of communities and audiences.

Dr Chris Edmonds (left) during a Tactile Collider workshop.

He co-created and delivered the Tactile Collider project, an immersive workshop that teaches visually impaired students about particle accelerators in a fun, accessible way. The project provided much needed opportunities for young people with visual impairments to learn about physics through the use of soundscapes and specially developed tactile objects. It has also overseen the development and delivery of continuing professional development sessions, enabling teachers to communicate physics research to VI-inclusive audiences.

Dr Edmonds also created acceleratAR, a first-of-its-kind augmented reality app that enables anyone with a smartphone to build a particle accelerator on their coffee table.

He was the academic lead behind Interaction Point, a collaboration with arts organisation FACT, which looked at ways art and accelerator science can be brought together to explore multidimensional perspectives and allow people to explore physics using their own language.

During last year’s lockdown, Dr Edmonds also designed home lab kits and interactive learning strategies to ensure students continued to gain hands-on lab experience.

He said: “This IoP award recognises projects that have enabled me to work with people from a wide range of backgrounds, which has been an incredibly interesting and rewarding experience. It’s an honour to have been recognised by the IoP for this work, and I look forward to continuing to make science education accessible for all.

Professor Peter Ratoff, Director of the Cockcroft Institute, said: “I am really delighted to hear this news  because Chris Edmonds has been one of the most active members of the Cockcroft Institute’s internationally renowned public engagement team. Across a broad range of highly impactful outreach activities, Chris and his colleagues have significantly raised public awareness of the world class science and engineering that we do at the Institute. It is especially gratifying that they have reached audiences who had not previously been given much opportunity to learn about the work that we do.

Institute of Physics President, Professor Sheila Rowan, said: “On behalf of the Institute of Physics, I warmly congratulate all of this year’s Award winners. Each and every one of them has made a significant and positive impact in their profession, whether as a researcher, teacher, industrialist, technician or apprentice. Recent events have underlined the absolute necessity to encourage and reward our scientists and those who teach and encourage future generations. We rely on their dedication and innovation to improve many aspects of the lives of individuals and of our wider society.

The Institute of Physics (IOP) is the professional body and learned society for physics, and the leading body for practising physicists, in the UK and Ireland. Its annual awards proudly reflect the wide variety of people, places, organisations and achievements that make physics such an exciting discipline.