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Queen Mary physicist wins communication prize

Dr Ben Still, research associate and particle physicist from the School of Physics and Astronomy has won the Institute of Physics’ (IOP) Early Career Communicators’ Award for a range of exciting and innovative projects to share his love of physics.

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Judge Professor Jim Al-Khalili congratulates Dr Ben Still
Judge Professor Jim Al-Khalili congratulates Dr Ben Still

At the event, on Tuesday 20 November, four nominees gave short presentations on the nature and success of their communication projects.

Ben used his ten-minute presentation to describe to an audience of approximately 50 spectators the nature of his outreach projects.

Ben opened his presentation with a description of Super-K Sonic Booooum!, a project undertaken in collaboration with designer Nelly Ben Hayoun that has resulted in a particle physics-themed art installation in a London night club.  

He continued with a description of Jiggling Atoms, a project involving 25 dedicated artists over six months that resulted in visual interpretations of complicated particle physics concepts, and LEGO Physics, a project which uses the popular toy in workshops and in the design of teaching materials to help explain the construction of the Universe.

Describing his love for physics communication, Ben said, "Science communication and outreach is a two-way benefit, scientists get as much out of it as the audience – at least I hope the audience do! I feel that it is important for me to try and give back some of the encouragement, enthusiasm, and enlightened education that I was lucky enough to receive, because without it I would not be where I am today. I love experiencing many different ways of communicating physics and science, so I hope that this award will open new doors and allow me to try new things."

Nuclear physicist and TV celebrity, Professor Jim Al-Khalili, and IOP’s Curriculum Manager, Clare Thomson, were impressed by the novel and innovative methods for communication that Ben has pioneered.

Clare Thomson, Curriculum Support Manager at IOP and one half of the judging panel, said, “The physics communication initiatives that Ben has undertaken are very creative, unusual and varied. From working with artists to convey the scale of the T2K physics experiment in his Super-K Sonic Booooum! Project to his LEGO-based Build Your Own Universe, he has reached a wide range of audiences and successfully shared his love of physics.”

Ben was competing against three outstanding physics communicators – Creator of the Inflativerse Evelyn Johnston, Famelab winner Andrew Steele and ‘badass hippie scientist’ Julian Stirling - who were all highly commended by the judges.

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