Maanus Kullamaa

Geneticist Andres Metspalu received lifetime achievement award for popularisation of science 

On Friday, 11 November, at the Estonian Research Council's research communication conference, this year's Estonian science communication awards were presented to recognise outstanding promoters of research and encourage people to talk and write about research in society. University of Tartu researchers received five awards. 

The Tiiu Sild memorial lifetime achievement award for the long-standing and systematic popularisation of science and technology was granted to Professor of Genomics and Biobanking, the founder of the Estonian Biobank, Academician Andres Metspalu. His name is directly linked to the birth and implementation of the Estonian population-based gene pool concept. Metspalu is also credited with the establishment of the specialisation of gene technology in Estonia. His long-standing contribution to the development of gene technology in Estonia and research communication has influenced society's understanding of science and the importance of science. Metspalu's work in research communication is largely related to explaining the importance of scientific results to politicians and the wider public.   

In the category of the best science and technology communication, the second prize went to the Development Manager of the UT Tartu Observatory and long-time physics teacher Tanel Liira who has succeeded in making young people see the fascination of science and contributed to the development of the observatory. 

The first prize for science and technology communication via printed media went to the Estonian annual archaeology journal Tutulus, the editor-in-chief of which is the Head of the Centre for Archaeological Research and Infrastructure, Professor of Archaeology Heiki Valk. Published by the UT Department of Archaeology, the journal provides the latest interpretations of the past and shows how modern methods can provide new and interesting information about the people who once lived: their lifestyles, food, appearance, diseases, skills, living environment and much more. The second prize in the same category went to the group of researchers led by Vivarium Manager Sulev Kuuse from the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology for their series of popular-sciences articles in the magazine Eesti Loodus. The series introduces, in simple and understandable language, scientific and technological advances and opportunities that may at first seem difficult to non-scientists. Other members of the group are Professor of Cell Biology Toivo Maimets, Professor in Developmental Biology Osamu Shimmi, Associate Professor in Developmental Biology Tambet Tõnissoo, Engineer Dmitri Lubenets and doctoral students of the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology Karl Jürgenstein and Artjom Stepanjuk. 

The jury selected the winners of Estonian science communication awards from among 53 candidates. 

Professor of Mathematical Statistics Krista Fischer received the Ökul Prize as the friend of science journalism from the Estonian Association of Science Journalists. Fischer was awarded the prize for her work on statistical literacy, which has helped to better explain statistical issues to journalists and readers alike. 

The prize fund of the Estonian science communication awards competition is 26,000 euros. The award is financed by the Ministry of Education and Research and granted by the Estonian Research Council in cooperation with the Estonian Academy of Sciences.


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