Published on 02/11/2017

Dr Christian Penny, Research and Technology Associate in environmental microbiology at LIST, has been awarded the ‘Outstanding Promotion of Science to the Public Award’ at the FNR Awards ceremony 2017 that took place on Friday 27 October 2017 at the Halle des poches à fonte in Belval (LU), in presence of the Minister for Higher Education and Research.

The Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) annually presents awards in the categories ‘Outstanding Scientific Publication’; ‘Outstanding PhD Thesis’; ‘Outstanding Promotion of Science to the Public’, with ‘Outstanding Research-Driven Innovation’ added for the first time in 2017. Each year, the FNR attributes the “Award for the Outstanding Promotion of Science to the Public” to individuals, institutions or non-profit associations that have successfully contributed to communicating science aspects to the general public and to encourage children and teenagers to become citizen scientists.  This year, Dr Christian Penny won one of two awards in the category ‘Outstanding Promotion of Science to the Public’, for his long-standing and numerous activities related to “microbiology for everyone”, with the aim to raise awareness for public health aspects, environmental protection and water quality – and this particularly among the young..

During the ceremony, Dr Penny was congratulated and briefly presented his award-winning activity “What do we bring home from school?”. A video that showcased the project was also presented and can be viewed on the FNR website or below:

Dr Penny’s main public outreach activity in the last three years, carried out together with Camila Hurst, a student from the European School in Luxembourg City, focused on analyzing the diversity of bacteria and the related health risks in a school environment. During the project, bacteria - among which potential pathogens - were collected on various common objects and surfaces, to be further analyzed in a mobile laboratory set up in the school and by using LIST’s high-tech devices. From the research, the team found out how bacteria spread in public spaces, and they also discovered what kind of surfaces are usually more contaminated with potentially harmful microorganisms.

LIST congratulates both Dr. Penny and Ms. Hurst on their remarkable achievement, and it is important to strengthen that Camilla Hurst was also rewarded with several national and international prizes and medals for her excellent work as a young scientist under the mentorship of Dr. Penny.

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