Professors of Astronomy Education
Paul Roche of the University of Glamorgan and Andy Newsam of Liverpool John Moores University have become the UK's first Professors of Astronomy Education.
Paul and Andy are both long-serving members of the RAS Education Committee and part of the European Space Education Resource Office network of Space Ambassadors. They were (simultaneously but coincidentally) awarded chairs in recognition of the work they do in using astronomy and space science to encourage learners of all ages to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
Andy is Director of the National Schools' Observatory and Paul is Director of the Faulkes Telescope Project, international projects that give schools access to large robotic telescopes, where the pupils and students can work alongside professional astronomers.
Andy commented "I think these two Chairs say a lot about the excellent work done in the UK in astronomy education, but also about the attitudes of the two universities and the importance they both place on ensuring that the benefits of research are shared as widely as possible".
Paul added "It's great that the work that Andy and I have been doing over the years has been recognised by our universities. STEM subjects are vital to our economy and astronomy is a great way to inspire people to learn more about modern science and how it impacts on almost every aspect of our lives".
Charles Barclay, Chair of the RAS Education Committee, welcomed the news. "Andy and Paul have worked tirelessly over many years to engage the wider public with astronomy, so I'm delighted that their universities have honoured their achievements in this way. With this step the two institutions show how much they value the role of astronomy and how it motivates people to develop a greater interest in science."