Communicating science

  • September 6, 2013
Communicating science

Gates Cambridge Alumnus Niraj Lal wins prestigious award in Australia for his research and science communication work.

A Gates Cambridge alumnus has won a prestigious Australian award for his research on renewable energy and for exceptional initiative in science communication.

Niraj [Nij] Lal [2008], who did a PhD in Physics at the University of Cambridge, has won the 2013 Australian Capital Territory Young Tall Poppy Science Award and The Australian National University Medal for the ACT Young Tall Poppy of the year.

The Tall Poppy Award, awarded by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science, recognises his outstanding contributions to science and his efforts to encourage young Australians to follow in the footsteps of outstanding achievers.

Nij was praised for his research in nanophotonics, photovoltaics and renewable energy and his science communication skills.  He regularly presents public show ‘The Science of Electricity’ at ANU, Questacon [the National Science and Technology Centre in Australia], high-schools across the region and for the University of the Third Age, a continuing-education university for older people.

He was awarded a 2013 National Science Week grant to develop a show about the science of light for high school students and was also invited to be one of 100 scientists from Canberra to speak at Questacon as part of its 100°C centenary celebrations.

“It’s lovely to receive an award for research and science communication. For me, the best bit isn’t the gong itself, but the support for doing science communication. I love it, and reckon it’s super important for academia to do,” said Nij, who is currrently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Research School of Engineering of the ANU.

Nij’s devotion to the public communication of science began early. At Cambridge he was awarded a UK Student Volunteering Gold Award from the Office of External Affairs at the University of Cambridge for his public outreach work.

For several years Niraj performed a lecture on The Science of Electricity for a wide range of Cambridge audiences including ethnic minority summer schools, in-care students, village colleges, mature-age students, international summer schools and the general public.

He has also volunteered at the Wysing Arts Centre helping disadvantaged students from Cambridgeshire produce a film about ‘Science of the Future’, worked with the BBC Radio Naked Scientists on the science of solar energy and volunteered at the Royal Society Science Exhibition in London.

Watch Nij’s interview on Youtube here.

Latest News

Affecting change for the Māori community

Self-determination lies at the centre of Māori culture. “It’s a way of life,” says Chris Tooley. That idea is also at the heart of his PhD studies at Cambridge and his subsequent work in Parliament and in the community. Chris grew up with a strong sense of being part of the Māori community. He has ancestral […]

On the COVID frontline

Three Gates Cambridge scholars who have been on the medical frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic will be speaking about their experiences at a virtual event next weekend. The event, organised by the Gates Cambridge Alumni Association, will be moderated by Elizabeth Dzeng, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco in the […]

New game tackles Covid conspiracies

A new online game that puts players in the shoes of a purveyor of fake pandemic news is the latest tactic in the UK Government’s efforts to tackle the deluge of coronavirus misinformation that is misleading many and costing lives across the world. Launched to the public today, the Go Viral! game has been developed by the […]

“Democracy does not work on a ‘trust me’ basis”

When Jennifer Gibson started her MPhil at Cambridge in 2001 as part of the inaugural class of Gates Scholars, no-one knew what it meant to be a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Twenty years later, Jennifer is now a human rights lawyer focused on national security issues, something she never could have anticipated, but which she credits in no small part […]