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Public Engagement

The Centre for Public Engagement

The Centre for Public Engagement was first established in 2012 to help support Queen Mary staff and students integrate public engagement into their work. Today we remain committed to supporting our staff, students, and the local community throughout their public engagement journey.

Building on the success of our 2021 ‘Platinum Engage Watermark’ awarded by the NCCPE, we aim to enhance our support for public engagement across the University, and broaden our work with communities locally, nationally and internationally to engage with new groups whilst also strengthening the connections we already have.

The CPE works to embed public engagement within the university by:

  • Removing barriers to engagement through providing advice and support, training, and providing funding for staff and students at Queen Mary
  • Celebrating the excellent work underway
  • Advocating for an engaged Queen Mary
  • Building relationships within the local community
  • Championing the need for engaged universities at a national level

You can contact us at any point to discuss all aspects of engagement and to receive further information on how to access our support services. The CPE has a core team of four members of staff who are here to help.

Contact Us:

This mailbox is monitored between 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday. Please allow up to 48 hours for responses. 

The Centre for Public Engagement
Office of the Principal,
Queen Mary University of London
E116, Queens' Building
327 Mile End Road,
E1 4NS

The CPE Team:

Headshot of Kimberley Freeman, a white woman with glasses wearing a black turtleneck, standing in front of a red brick wallKimberley Freeman

Director of the Centre of Public Engagement

Kimberley is Director of the Centre for Public Engagement at Queen Mary University of London. She is a Wellcome Trust Public Engagement Fellow, and has worked in public engagement and communications for over 15 years.

She was a Partnership Communications Manager at the Medical Research Council (MRC), Public Engagement Manager at UCL, and Public Engagement and Publications Co-ordinator at The Royal College of Pathologists. She sits on a number of external public engagement funding panels, mentors public engagement professionals across London, and co-founded the London Sci-Comm Socials and the London Public Engagement Network (PEN).

Kimberley regularly delivers training across the UK on public engagement evaluation, and Leadership. Her work often explores creative ways to collect evaluation information from public engagement projects, and creative ways of sharing that information with a range of different audiences.

Sarah Barnes

Sarah Barnes
Public Engagement Manager

Sarah is the Public Engagement Manager and leads on public engagement training, funding advice and external opportunities, and manages the CPE team.

She runs training for all staff and students, starting with a basic introduction to public engagement as well as training focussed on specific audiences and engagement methods.

Sarah has worked at the University of Surrey and the Institute of Physics, leading on their science engagement activities at events ranging from small school workshops to national music festivals. She has also spent the past 8 years working at the Science Museum in London, presenting science shows to visitors of all ages.

Sarah also has a background in theatre production, and has worked on a number of productions across the UK, including 3 years as Company and Stage Manager for a theatre company based at the Roundhouse, Camden.

Sarah has a degree in physics from Queen Mary, and is a member of the Institute of Physics. 


Sarah Gifford
Community Engagement Manager

Sarah is the Community Engagement Manager and leads on Queen Mary's local community engagement. She works with a wide range of community groups, organisations and charities in Tower Hamlets and east London, to connect them to the breadth of projects, research and teaching taking place at Queen Mary. She connects Queen Mary staff and students to the wealth of knowledge, expertise and opportunities in our local communities with the aim of generating new connections, partnerships and mutually beneficial working.

Sarah also leads on the annual Festival of Communities, a leading event in Tower Hamlets which brings residents, community organisations and Queen Mary staff and students together to explore living and learning in the borough.

Sarah previously managed the student volunteering programme at Queen Mary Students' Union for 7 years.

Sarah has a degree in history from Queen Mary.


Daisy Payling
Public Engagement Officer

As Public Engagement Officer Daisy is the first point of contact for enquiries about the CPE's services. She is responsible for the management of the CPE's Small and Large Grant schemes, providing advice and guidance for public engagement projects, developing methods to celebrate and share best engagement practice, and management of all the CPE's communication channels. 

Previously Daisy worked as a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of History at the University of Essex and, before that, in the Centre for History in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where she developed and ran a number of public engagement projects based her research.

She has a PhD in History from the University of Birmingham. 


A headshot of Briana: a young Black woman wearing black glasses, a black turtleneck, silver hoop earrings and a silver nose stud. Her hair is braided and piled on top of her head and she is smiling.

Briana Applewhite

Health Inequalities Research & Partnerships Manager

Briana is the Health Inequalities Research & Partnerships Manager, as part of the Tower Hamlets NIHR funded Health Determinants Research Collaborative (HDRC).  Her role focuses on building and maintaining relationships with the local council, different community organisations and the wider university sector, connecting them to research and opportunities with the overarching goal of improving health inequalities within the borough of Tower Hamlets.

Briana has a vested interest in health inequalities research and has previously worked as a Researcher on a multitude of studies focused on improving the mental health outcomes of diverse communities.

She has an MSc in Mental Health Studies from King’s College London and is currently working on her PhD at the University of Oxford in Psychiatry.

In memoriam: Professor Peter McOwan

Queen Mary’s Vice Principal for Public Engagement and Student Enterprise, Professor Peter McOwan passed away in 2019. Peter was instrumental in setting up the Centre for Public Engagement and his leadership and guidance led to Queen Mary being the first institution to be awarded a Gold Engage Watermark for Public Engagement in 2016.

Peter was posthumously awarded the Queen Mary Medal for his exceptional contribution to Queen Mary and his legacy is reflected in the outstanding public engagement projects delivered by staff and students, as well as the work of the Centre for Public Engagement.

In 2021, the 'McOwan Award for Leadership in Public Engagement' was introduced as one of the categories in the Engagement and Impact Awards to commemorate Peter's qualities of inspirational and transformational leadership and his passion for engagement. 

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