Trinity ecologist honoured for outstanding public engagement

Professor in Botany at Trinity, Jane Stout, was today recognised as one of nine outstanding ecologists in the British Ecological Society’s (BES) annual awards list.

Professor Stout won the Ecological Engagement Award as a leading ‘ecologist who has bridged the gap between ecology and the public.’ The BES Awards honour ecologists from around the world whose work has benefited the scientific community and society in general.

Professor Stout is a leading expert in bee and pollination ecology and in understanding the causes and consequences of bee decline. She is a leading partner in the development and implementation of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, and spearheaded Trinity’s Campus Pollinator Plan.

As part of the latter initiative, Professor Stout and her research team initiated a social media competition that asked the public to name Trinity’s Queen Honey Bee, engaging audiences from around the world with her research and its importance. After a four-week campaign that attracted responses from over 20 countries, Trinity welcomed Queen Medb.

Professor Stout has also been pivotal in developing the Irish Forum on Natural Capital, which is working towards the valuation, protection and restoration of natural ecosystems and the goods and services they provide in Ireland. She is currently Chair of the Forum.

Professor Stout said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been recognised by the British Ecological Society with this award. It’s important that the work we do is effectively communicated to a range of audiences, but, above all, it’s crucial that we engage with the public."

"Ultimately, a lot of the work that we do as ecologists, provides the evidence-base for informed decision-making on many environmental issues that affect society today. And public-engagement is not just telling people about what we have done, and preventing the spread of “mis-information” – but about involving them in the research itself, as advisors, participants and recipients.”

“Bees are popular with the public and I’ve had the pleasure of working with a wide variety of groups – from local school children, beekeepers, chefs and gardeners, all the way up to international businesses, government advisors and even royalty. Bees are a great example of how elements of nature benefit society and can act as early-warning indicators of ecological damage, as well as flagships for conservation. I like to think of them as the insect equivalent of the giant panda – cute, cuddly, and threatened by human activity – with the added bonus of also being excellent pollinators.”

Professor Sue Hartley, President of the British Ecological Society, said: “We have a long-standing history of supporting our academic community across the globe and recognise excellence at all career stages. Ecological knowledge can help to address some of the most pressing challenges human society is facing today.”

“The winners of this year’s BES prizes have made outstanding contributions to their field and I congratulate them for their impressive achievements, which advance the science of ecology and its impacts.”

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