Student wins prestigious prizes at STEM for BRITAIN showcase

Helen Parker was awarded both a gold medal and the overall prize for Physics during March’s STEM for BRITAIN showcase for early career researchers.

STEM for BRITAIN exists to raise the profile of Britain’s early-stage researchers at Westminster by engaging Members of both Houses of Parliament with current science, engineering and mathematics research being undertaken in the UK, though a national poster competition.

Helen, a PhD student with Proteus and OPTIMA Centre for Doctoral Training, was judged to be the top contributor amongst 180 finalists during this year’s competition, held on Monday 12th March. She was awarded first prize for the Physics category, and received the Cavendish Medal and a cash prize of £2000. Not stopping there, she went on to be announced as the overall winner of the 2018 event, and was awarded the Westminster Medal.

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Helen Parker, pictured standing next to her winning poster and holding the Cavendish Medal for Physics (L), and the Westminster Medal for overall winner (R).

The competition currently attracts around 500 entrants, of whom approximately 35% are selected to present their work in Parliament. The judges were looking for enthusiasm, clarity and brevity, as well as scientific excellence.

“I was surprised to win since, although my expertise is in physics, there is a large biological aspect to my research,” Helen told the University of Southampton, where she completed her undergraduate degree. “This win shows that interdisciplinary science is valuable not only to the academic community but also to the rest of society who rightly want to see the direct applicability of research.”

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Helen, pictured with (L to R): Sharon Todd, CEO of the Society of Chemical Industry; Dr Nick Bourne, Secretary of the SCI London Group; Sue Wharton; Dr Stephen Benn; Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chairman of the STEM for BRITAIN organising group of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee.

“I really enjoyed hearing about the breadth of research happening in Britain at the moment and it was interesting to see the emphasis that Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, put on the importance of a close relationship between scientists and parliamentarians.”

Helen Parker

Congratulations to Helen on this phenomenal achievement!