Is it time for you to join the Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellowship?
Interested in becoming a Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow? Find out what we’re looking for, and what makes this scheme different from the average academic fellowship. With the deadline for applications for the 2015 Engagement Fellowships coming up, Tom Ziessen from our Engaging Science team explains the scheme and answers some frequently asked questions…
At the Wellcome Trust, we’re not only interested in funding scientists and researchers to do science, we also want to encourage the public to explore health and wellbeing through the lens of scientific, historical and social research. We do this by funding public engagement projects (both directly and indirectly connected to research we fund), supporting the development of communities of artists, science communicators, researchers and others who deliver such projects and by directly delivering public engagement activity such as our exhibitions and events at the Wellcome Collection or our major education initiatives such as In The Zone.
We consider it important to connect and engage the public with the conversations around science and health. The Public Engagement Fellowship aims to support and develop upcoming stars in public engagement with science. We want to support future leaders to make a step change in their careers – helping them bridge the gap to something new.
We want to support these potential leaders in engagement with science to take the next steps on their journey, giving them the space, time and contacts to develop their engagement style and portfolio
What are we looking for?
Applicants should already have a strong track record in public engagement and a vision for how they hope the future of science and/or health will be changed by public engagement. The Fellowships aim to provide a space to explore how to make this vision a reality and take some bold strides towards that future.
Fellows are given the freedom to explore new ideas and perspectives, expand their skills and to develop new professional relationships. They are given access to (and are encouraged to spend time with) Wellcome Trust staff, with the hope this will lead to unique insights and useful connections. Fellows are also provided with space to work in The Hub at Wellcome Collection when in the area.
This is the fifth year of our Engagement Fellowship scheme and so far we have supported a range of artists, clinicians, historians and science communicators. Over the years we hope to grow our portfolio of Engagement Fellows to represent the wide diversity of individuals involved in delivering the public engagement activity supported by the Trust.
Along with more artists and science communicators we are keen to support academic researchers from biomedical fields as well as those researching social, historical and cultural dimensions of scientific knowledge, clinical practice and healthcare policy.
What do Engagement Fellows do?
Well that is up to the individuals who apply. The scheme is not about coming up with a specific project idea, but about personal and professional development in the sphere of public engagement. Whilst this will undoubtedly involve delivering public engagement projects, the focus for the scheme is on how this activity will further the skills and experience of the Fellow to lead them towards their vision. Fellowships also aim to provide the freedom to overcome barriers that are currently in the way of you achieving your vision.
There is not a specific goal to reach, or target to meet – and that’s what sets these fellowships apart. The focus is on giving you the opportunity to explore different approaches, with the aim of having an impact both on your career, and the wider field of public engagement. This differs from our other Engaging Science grants, which fund delivery of projects in which the principal aim is to engage the public with ideas about biomedical science.
You should be ready to grasp the “blank sheet” with both hands and make it yours. Previously funded Fellows such as Roger Kneebone and Kevin Fong have been exploring different approaches to healthcare, while Erinma Ochu has explored citizen science through game design and interactive storytelling. Greg Foot has been experimenting with incorporating insights from across the performing arts into how science shows are conceived, while Lavinia Greenlaw is encouraging people to think about how scientific and artistic endeavour derive from common ground.
What’s it like being a Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow?
The best way to answer that is to ask the fellows themselves. Our Engagement Fellows have previously reflected on their experiences, with blog posts from Richard Barnett, Kevin Fong and a collective post that offers top tips for prospective applicants last year. We’re also giving you the opportunity to join us for a Twitter chat this Friday lunchtime (12.00-1.00pm) to put your questions to some current fellows and a representative from the Trust. You can tweet your questions in advance to @WellcomeTrust using the hashtag #AskWellcome.
How do I apply?
The next deadline for applications to be a Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow is 13th February 2015. You can find all the information on how to apply on the Wellcome Trust website
Following our Twitter chat on Friday 30th January we’ve collected all the questions and answers in this handy Storify. We have also created a Twitter list of current and past fellows so you can see what they are doing.
Image credits: Engagement Fellows 2014 by Wellcome Images; 132:365 – Scanning the Horizon by Charamelody on Flickr CC-BY-NC, Non-target by Wellcome Trust – CC-BY