WISERD PhD student finalist in ESRC writing competition

Siobhan MadersonA WISERD PhD student from Aberystwyth University was one of twelve finalists in this year’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) writing competition, ‘Making Sense of Society’.

Siobhan Maderson is studying the environmental knowledge of beekeepers and is funded by the ESRC.

Siobhan, who is based at Aberystwyth University’s Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, said: “My PhD research is rooted in global pollinator decline and challenges to food security and biodiversity, but particularly examines the traditional environmental knowledge of beekeepers, and how this can be better utilised to support environmental sustainability.

“I completed the MSc in Food and Water Security at Aberystwyth University in 2014. My dissertation research explored beekeepers’ knowledge of pollinator health, as well as wider agricultural and environmental conditions.

“Recent years have seen the rise of a range of policy initiatives to address pollinator decline; many discuss the need for a participatory approach to policy formation, and the importance of engaging with beekeepers.

“My research explores the environmental benefits of deeper engagement with beekeepers, as their long-term, intimate engagement with bees and their surrounding ecosystem develops unique, rich knowledge of the environment.”

The 800-word article Siobhan submitted to the competition, entitled ’Ensuring a sweeter future’, describes her research, why it interests her, and why it is relevant to a wider audience.

Siobhan said: “Being shortlisted in the ESRC’s Making Sense of Society writing competition was a huge honour. Exploring, and ultimately improving communication between academic researchers and the wider community is very important to me. Interdisciplinary research is a key aspect of my PhD, and this also includes working with knowledge outside of traditional academia. Reaching the competition finals is recognition of the importance of this broad outlook. All of the shortlisted entries covered a fascinating breadth of topics, showcasing the range, and value, of social science research to an incredible variety of current societal issues.”

Michael Woods, Co-Director of WISERD at Aberystwyth and Professor of Transformative Social Science in the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences is Siobhan’s PhD supervisor. He said: “I am delighted that Siobhan was shortlisted for this prestigious award. Siobhan’s important work on beekeepers’ engagement in science and policy to address the pollinator crisis is attracting interest from many groups, and this honour will increase its profile. It’s good as well to show that Aberystwyth PhD students are competing with best from across Britain.”

The ESRC’s Making Sense of Society writing competition was launched, in partnership with SAGE Publishing, in October 2016.

This year ESRC students were invited to submit 800 words about how their research is helping making sense of society, and why it matters.

The ESRC said: “The shortlisted writers impressed the judges by communicating their research in an engaging, original, powerful and thought-provoking way.”

The awards event took place on Tuesday 21 March 2017 in the Wolfson Library at the Royal Society, London.