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Published on:
Monday 8 July 2024

Wolfson Alumna Celebrates Remarkable Achievements in Science Communication and Public Engagement

Wolfson College is thrilled to announce that recent graduate Chenying Liu has been honoured with two prestigious awards for her exceptional contributions to science communication and public engagement.

Dr Chenying Liu, a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Engineering Science, has been recognised for her outstanding ability to make complex scientific concepts accessible to the general public. Her research focuses on leveraging origami principles to develop innovative structures with practical applications, ranging from dexterous, agile, and adaptive robots to personal protective equipment such as helmets and exoskeletons.

The British Science Association (BSA) selects seven Award Lecturers each year, honouring individuals who excel in both pioneering research and public engagement. Past recipients include notable figures like Brian Cox, Richard Wiseman, and Maggie Aderin-Pocock. In addition, Chenying has been awarded the Josh Award for Science and Showmanship by the BIG STEM Communicators Network. This national prize recognises early-career science communicators who demonstrate a passion for continuing their work in engaging the public with STEM subjects.

Chenying has a distinguished history of public engagement. In 2021, she was part of the inaugural cohort of Oxford Sparks Ambassadors, where she produced a widely viewed video explaining her early research on origami, 3D printing, and robotics. Her dedication to inspiring future engineers is evident through her ongoing participation in outreach programs like Oxplore and her involvement in various science festivals, including the Great Road Festival Exhibition and the Begbroke Science Wonder Garden Party.

James Brown, Chair of the UK Science Festivals Network and Member of the Josh Award Selection Panel, commented:

“We are very excited to award the 2024 Josh Award to Chenying Liu for her work with Origami Robotics. The judging panel was very impressed with her proposal for a range of activities and events aimed at engaging new audiences. We are looking forward to seeing how Chenying develops these activities across the next 12 months, starting with the British Science Festival in September in East London.”

Chenying started her D.Phil. in Engineering Science at St Hugh’s college before relocating to Wolfson in 2021 as a student welfare office and has remained an active part of our community ever since. Talking about her time here, Chenying said:

“Wolfson has been a wonderful home to me in Oxford. Living and studying in such a beautiful venue has been a privilege, and I am truly grateful for the generous support from the college during my stay. I have thoroughly enjoyed the social interactions with friends, fellow students and other college members. Moreover, working with the academic office and the wider welfare team has been a great pleasure, allowing me to give back to our community in a meaningful way.”

Chenying completed her DPhil in Engineering Science at Wolfson earlier this year. Her innovative origami inspired work has led to the development of robots with ‘intelligence’, such as a gripper for delicate objects and a millipede-like robot that can adapt to its environment by changing its morphology. Wolfson College is immensely proud of Chenying Liu’s achievements and her unwavering commitment to making science accessible and engaging for all. We look forward to witnessing her continued impact in the field of origami engineering and robotics.

Chenying will deliver her Award Lecture on Origami Robotics and is hosting an interactive paper folding workshop as part of the British Science Festival in September 2024. For more information and to book your place, click on the links provided.