ZSL Silver Medal for Soapbox Science
Soapbox Science was delighted to be awarded a Silver Medal, from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) on 22 June 2016. Soapbox co-founders Nathalie Pettorelli and Seirian Sumner received the medal from Sir John Beddington, on behalf of ZSL.
The Silver Medal is the Society’s oldest award (instituted in 1837). The artwork on the Zoological Society of London’s Scientific Medal is by Henry Landseer. Landseer was Queen Victoria’s artist and is probably best known for the four bronze lions at base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, which were commission by the government in 1858. The engraving on the medal was created by William Wyon (1795–1851), from the Birmingham family of medallists and seal engravers. Wyon worked at the Royal Mint from 1815, combining work on coinage with lucrative private commissions and he was Chief Engraver from 1828. Wyon’s accurate portraits and standard of engraving made him the preeminent medallist of nineteenth-century England. The current Silver Medal is still produced by the Royal Mint, and each medal consists of 7.1458 oz of Fine Silver.
During the presentation Professor Geoff Boxshall FRS (ZSL’s Secretary) said “The Silver Medal is awarded for contributions to the understanding and appreciation of science. This year we are presenting the award to the founders of Soapbox Science: Seirian Sumner, Senior Lecturer in Behavioural Biology at Bristol University, and Nathalie Pettorelli, Research Fellow at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology. Soapbox Science aims to address this by putting top women scientists on soapboxes in public areas to speak about their work. It is truly an inspirational and novel platform for promoting women in science. Soapbox Science was founded in 2011 and its brilliance is its simplicity – there are no stuffy PowerPoint presentations, no wordy exhibits and no expensive props. The reach of the events grows annually: this year there are 13 in the UK, and the first international event will be held in August in Brisbane, Australia. Soapbox Science is supported by teams of volunteers who are offered science-communication skills training, networking opportunities and exposure to top professional scientists. Soapbox Science provides an opportunity for women scientists to engage with the public in an informal and unusual way, and showcase their work. In all ways, Soapbox Science is a model for scientific communication. Nathalie and Seirian have a knack for organising well-run events with lasting effects for how women scientists are regarded. It is an honour to present Nathalie and Seirian with the Silver Medal.”