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Queen Mary academic receives prestigious science learning award

Professor Fran Balkwill OBE, Professor of Cancer Biology at Queen Mary University of London, has been announced as the 2021 winner of the Beetlestone Award which recognises leadership and legacy in the field of informal science learning.

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Professor Fran Balkwill OBE
Professor Fran Balkwill OBE

Professor Balkwill was recognised for her work as a children’s science author and the founding director of Queen Mary’s Centre of the Cell, which opened in 2009 and is the first science centre in the world to be situated within a working biomedical research facility.

Harry White, chair of the Beetlestone Award Panel, said: "Frances Balkwill’s pioneering work in founding the Centre of the Cell, a science centre situated within a Research Institute, but knitted into its surrounding community, is exemplary.  She continues to lead it, and their latest phase of learning and community space ‘Neuron Pod’ makes an important and highly visible impact in Whitechapel.”

Professor Balkwill responded: “I am delighted and honoured to be the 2021 recipient of the Beetlestone Award. This award is a very welcome encouragement at an important time for Centre of the Cell.  After a challenging year for us and indeed all ISLs in the UK, this is a fantastic boost to our morale, making us even more determined and ambitious in our plans for the next ten years.”

The Beetlestone Award is named after Professor John Beetlestone (1932-2017) who was the founding director of Techniquest, the UK’s first purpose-built science discovery centre. This Award has been made possible through the generosity of his family and friends.

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