Project hopes to attract more UK users
“Our impact activities should help us advertise our wares and get more potential UK end users on side.” - Professor Martin Gallagher, University of Manchester
When it came to writing an Pathways to Impact for his most recent project, Professor Martin Gallagher admits that he wasn’t confident. “It is all new to me,” says Professor Gallagher, from the Centre for Atmospheric Science (CAS) at the University of Manchester. “On a small project such as this one, it is difficult to define who the beneficiaries will be, or even if there are going to be any beneficiaries, because we don’t know if it will be a success or not,” he said.
The project, a follow-up from a much larger collaborative project, aims to demonstrate an aircraft system for real-time discrimination and reporting of dust, volcanic ash, ice and super-cooled water particles.
In order to write the Pathways to Impact for this project, Professor Gallagher first consulted with colleagues. “After a lot of blank looks and discussions in corridors and coffee rooms, we came up with a plan,” says Professor Gallagher. “Having to come up with an impact plan [Pathways to Impact] has certainly made us think about impact activities that we would previously perhaps not have considered.”
Professor Gallagher first identified groups of potential users: climate modellers inside and outside of academia, who can use the data collected to improve their models; and the aircraft industry, which needs to be able to discriminate whether an aircraft is flying in a volcanic ash cloud, whether there is danger from super-cooled water particles, etc. As well as the traditional methods of academic dissemination such as workshops, research papers and attending conferences, Professor Gallagher plans to utilise the CAS website, issue press releases, organise a museum event and work with his school’s outreach coordinator to promote the project.
The School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at Manchester has invested heavily in outreach activities and now has a science communicator and teaching fellow. Dr Katherine Harrison, a former school teacher, develops teacher resource packs and demonstration lectures on various atmospheric themes. She also writes article for school teachers and the general public. “We will work with Dr Harrison to include lectures on atmospheric instrumentation for climate monitoring and aviation safety,” says Professor Gallagher. “She will provide support to our project at no extra cost to us.” Several of the post-docs in Professor Gallagher’s group have also produced podcasts and videos to promote understanding of climate science (see links).
In order to assess whether these impact activities have been successful, Professor Gallagher has put in some simple measures of success into his Pathways to Impact. For example, he aims to generate more than 3000 hits on the CAS website, more than 50 visitors to the museum event, and he would like to get more than 10 enquiries from potential users as a result of attending conferences and meetings.
“The idea of putting simple measures into the impact plan came from another colleague’s impact plan,” admits Professor Gallagher. “I felt this was an important, and relatively simple, idea so I added this to my plan.”
While Professor Gallagher concedes that he is not confident about his abilities in impact generation, he can see the benefit of advertising his work as widely as possible. Professor Gallagher has, in the past, had difficulty getting UK industry to collaborate with him on his projects and has instead collaborated with a US company, which launched a new product as a result of the project. He hopes that advertising his work to a wider UK audience will grab the attention of UK industry and funding bodies. “Our impact activities should help us advertise our wares and get more potential UK users on side,” he said. “The UK has built up some expertise in cloud detection and sampling but we face stiff competition from our German colleagues in the EU arena and I am concerned that, without support from UK industry and funding bodies, this type of work will end up being done by better-funded EU states.”
Institution:University of Manchester