Astrophysicist receives prestigious award for her work to protect endangered animals using drone technology



Claire Burke - Astrophysicist receives prestigious award

LJMU Astrophysicist Claire Burke has been named by the British Science Association (BSA) as a winner of its prestigious Award Lectures for 2018.

Claire was named winner of The Daphne Oram Award Lecture for Digital Innovation for her work in the new field of astro-ecology.

Claire has been part of a world-first interdisciplinary collaboration between astrophysicists and conservationists applying techniques from astronomy to help conserve endangered species using drone technology.

The study used thermal infrared cameras mounted on drones to survey wildlife parks, the thermal footage shows the animals shining brightly in a similar way to stars and galaxies due to their body heat.

This enabled the scientists to detect and identify different species, making conservation much more efficient and effective.

Claire said: “The award recognises my contributions to this new field, largely working to understanding how best to use this technology for observing endangered animals in different environments.

“But also the large amount of public engagement work that has taken place in communicating physics and related subjects to audiences from school children to pensioners in a variety of venues including museums and pubs.

“I'm absolutely delighted to receive this award, it's a real honour to have been selected by such a prestigious group as the British Science Association.

Claire joins six other UK researchers who have been recognised for their cutting-edge work and engaging communication skills after a competitive selection process.

They join an illustrious group of Award Lecture recipients from Professor Brian Cox to Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Richard Wiseman.

Each Award Lecture winner will be celebrated at the British Science Festival in Hull in September, where they will give a special talk about their innovative research.

Head of Engagement at the BSA Ivvet Modinou said: “We're delighted to announce this year's cohort of Award Lecturers. They're a hugely talented group who are at the forefront of their fields and who bring their research out from the labs and into the public domain, for everyone to share, learn from and enjoy.

“We received many high-quality applications, which made the decision process extremely tough. I wish them the best of luck for the coming year and I look forward to working with them all.”

The Award Lectures have been presented at the British Science Festival since 1990. They celebrate and promote front line research being carried out in the UK by talented early-career scientists. The Awards recognise researchers’ excellent communication skills and their ability to demonstrate the social and societal aspects of their work.

This year’s British Science Festival took place from Tuesday 11 to Friday 14 September hosted by the University of Hull with over 100 events on campus and throughout the city. It provided an opportunity to meet researchers face-to-face and discuss cutting-edge research, innovation and ideas in science, technology and engineering.



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