Log in
BIG Home page

Previous Winners of the Josh Award

A group of previous Josh Award winners, together at Cheltenham Science Festival.

David Price, Katie Steckles, Jon Chase, Charlotte Hale-Smith, Mat Allen, Sarah Bearchell, Andy Miah.


Eva Ernstzen

Eva's passion for science stems from a natural curiosity about the patterns observed in the world around her. She is motivated to study and share her passion for science and her belief that thinking scientifically is an empowering tool for communities to improve their health and the health of the planet.

Growing up in East London during the 2012 Olympic legacy, Eva found there was a big focus on studying sport and business and there were not many local science activities or STEM role models that looked and sounded her. However, she was inspired by her GCSE science teacher, who encouraged her to further study Biology and Chemistry at A Level.

Now living in Sheffield after finishing her Biology degree, Eva works for Brightbox Makerspace, a social enterprise that works across South Yorkshire to break down barriers to the creative, tech and engineering industries through community and youth-led training and workshops.

This has enabled Eva to work to improve access to spaces and activities that spark our imagination, spirit and creativity—particularly the life sciences, which she has experienced to be overwhelmingly white and middle class. Like the rest of the team at Brightbox, Eva is also a firm believer that learning should be exploratory, playful and fun.

A personal focus for Eva's interest and experience is improving awareness of the magic that communities create when they grow their own food. She wants to celebrate community allotments and green spaces as powerful tools to improve our wellbeing and connect with nature and believes the mental, physical and emotional benefits of horticulture should be accessible to all.

Charlotte Hale-Smith

The 2020 Josh Award winner was Charlotte Hale-Smith, a dance-theatre artist, educator and the founder of FLUX Dance.

Charlotte fuses her creativity and experience in the arts with her passion for science to create innovative science engagement methods, combining STEM topics with dance, movement and games.

The winning proposal, Ceto: My Plastic Ocean, told the story of the ecological crisis caused by plastic and what we can do about it. Through the creation of a 'Queen of the Sea' walkabout act and a family-friendly workshop combining performing arts with material and environmental science, Charlotte discussed the impact that plastic waste has on our environment.

Ceto: My Plastic Ocean was presented at the Manchester Science and Industry Museum as a family-friendly activity in late 2021.

The selection panel was thrilled to award this year's prize to Charlotte in recognition of her innovative approach to science communication and dedication to creating inclusive and fun opportunities for science engagement.


Ben Nicholson and Frederike Gerstner

The 2019 Josh Award was won by Frederike Gerstner and Ben Nicholson, who brought their show The Juggling of Science to the Manchester Science And Industry Museum for our October half-term holiday programme.

The show combines Fred's experience of performing and choreographing juggling shows with Ben's background of engineering, using the technical juggling training of both performers. It contains topics studied as part of the secondary school syllabus, using juggling and a voiceover soundtrack to visually illustrate scientific ideas. Ben and Fred juggle balls and rings to show atoms and molecules. There’s even a section on the upcoming and eco-friendly technology of the hydrogen fuel cell.

Ben and Fred wrote a blog post on the museum's website here:


Mat Allen

Mat started communicating science during his PhD at Cardiff Univeristy and has since developed various VR and AR platforms to communicate science. His Josh Award project uses tactile and interactive activities, designed to be suitable for use by people with visual impairments, to describe astrophysics. As a winner of the award, Mat will act Manchester Science Festival Communicator in residence, have the opportunity to attend the BIG event in Winchester and receive support to deliver his activities during Manchester Science Festival.

Manchester Science Festival said: “We’re really excited to be working with Mat this year to support the delivery of his Astrophysics project as part of Manchester Science Festival 2018.  Mat’s application demonstrated how passionate he was about reaching a new audience and we’re proud that we can offer a platform for early career science communicators to develop projects they might not otherwise be able to realise.”

Mat said: “I am so grateful to have won the Josh Award. I’m honored to have been recognised alongside the work that Joshua and the previous winners have done in inspiring people into science. I am excited to be able to create and demonstrate activities at the Manchester Science Festival 2018, which will help teach and inspire visually impaired people about astronomy and space. I hope to showcase how incredible astronomy is to everyone.”

"The Josh Award has given me some amazing opportunities in science outreach. I have been able to continue my project, to engage with visually impaired audiences around astronomy through working with local visual impairment organisations and charities. I've been able to further improve the resources and how I deliver them, whilst I hope to continue to expand the scope of the project.

"Additionally, working with the team at Manchester Science Festival has given me the confidence to restart Cardiff Science Festival, something that I have wanted to do for a number of years. I am proud to now be the director of the festival, which reaches over 10,000 people annually through STEM events, using the knowledge that I gained from working with the festival team. The Josh Award has allowed me to steer my science engagement career in the direction that I want and has opened up countless opportunities to me."

Jon Chase

In 2017, Science Rapper Jon Chase won the Josh Award. Jon Chase is a BBC Bitesize science presenter and has produced science raps for the BBC, Channel 4 learning and NASA amongst others.  He is also an author having recently co-written a book about the Science of Star Wars as well as the soon to be released Science of Harry Potter. 

His event, Hip Hop Science Stop Weekender, brought street and urban science to life with visitors getting hands-on with graffiti walls and turntables. He put on special performances for families, featuring a selection of his own raps and showcased science raps from around the globe. Visitors also learned how they could use everyday objects and waste materials such as straws, paper and string to do simple science experiments at home.

You can book Jon Chase here

Katie Steckles

Mathematician Dr Katie Steckles won the 2016 Josh Award and was the Science Communicator in Residence at Manchester Science Festival 2016.

Steckles turned the museum into a giant hand-made, crowd-sourced image during the Festival. Her winning application had Festival visitors helping to colour thousands of individual ‘pixels’ that would make up a picture in one of the museum’s windows representing how digital devices such as computers, tablets, and phones display images.

The project also looked at the mathematics behind how devices store images as a series of numbers that create the different colours on screen. There was also a close-up look at the pixels in your own phone’s screen and a photo booth that transforms you into an Excel spreadsheet of colour values.

Katie said:  "Winning the Josh Award was a great opportunity to promote myself and boost my profile, and it was wonderful to do a big project and give many people the chance to interact with maths at the festival.

"It's great that up-and-coming science communicators can showcase what they're doing and get a boost of awareness through this award, and attending the BIG event puts you in front of the whole science communication community, providing a ready-made support network and contacts. It was huge fun, and wonderful to honour Josh's memory by continuing his tradition of sharing a love of science!"

What do you do?
I'm a mathematician who gives talks and workshops on maths topics at UK schools and science festivals. I also make YouTube videos, write blogs and do comedy sets - anything as long as it's communicating maths!

What project did you design and deliver?
I was the organiser of the MegaPixel project in 2016 - demonstrating how TV and phone screens display images using red, green and blue light by colouring in and assembling a giant photograph, with help from museum visitors and teams of participants all over the UK (and the world). We assembled a team of volunteers and worked on the image throughout the week of the science festival, having a stall in the museum entrance every day and thousands of visitors, and finishing by frantically assembling the final image on the Sunday night!

What was the best thing about winning the Josh Award?
It was great to have recognition from the community that I'm doing good work, and it was also great to be part of the Manchester Science Festival in such an important way. The project was a great way to get lots of people involved and learn something new, and it was good to have something impressive to show at the end. I'm hoping it'll inspire me to keep producing innovative maths communication projects and events in future!

Andy Miah

In 2015, Andy Miah brought a drone expo to the Museum of Science and Industry. The Revolution Manchester gallery at the museum was taken over as a fly zone for drones. People had a go at flying a drone to see how they actually fly and found out more about what drones can be used for.

Andy Miah is the chair of science communication at the University of Salford.

Sarah Bearchell

What do you do?
I work with children and families - in nurseries, Children's Centres, primary schools, community groups. I often work with special needs pupils, and use super-sensory experiments to engage all kinds of learners. I do workshops, shows and science clubs. I also write for Aquila Children's Magazine and, since winning the Josh Award, have written teacher resources for BBC Learning "Terrific Scientific" and The Royal Society of Chemistry.

What project did you deliver?
The Josh Award enabled me to optimise my equipment and develop "The Cloud Factory" so that I can use dry ice to for a super-sensory workshop for pupils with special needs. It also paid for me to have a fabulous Cloud Machine made by Richard Ellam. It means that every child, no matter what their ability, can make a cloud in safety; which often leads to squeals of delight! As part of the award I did two days of shows in a large special needs school in Swinton.

What has been the best thing about winning?
The most amazing thing happened in a Cloud Factory session. I was working with a group of 6 or 7 year-olds, of whom one little boy was walking with a frame. We made our first cloud amongst great excitement and when I made the second cloud I invited the children to come and explore it on the floor. They all came forward with enormous enthusiasm, including the little boy who left his frame to crawl over to the cloud. When I lifted the box to show how the bubbles were moving, the boy held on to me and pulled himself up into a standing position. He was absolutely fascinated by what was happening. When I turned to show the other children, the little boy stepped forward to follow the box. He was walking unsupported and his teachers were utterly amazed. His scientific curiosity had driven him to walk and I am really proud that I had the privilege to be there when he did.

Aravind Vijayaraghavan

Graphene research, University of

Matt Parker

Standup Maths and Festival of the Spoken Nerd

Steve Cross

Wellcome trust Engagement Fellow and Science ShowOff

David Price

What do you do?
Manager for Science Made Simple (North) for 10 years; National and international Science communication trainer (with a specialism in science busking); National and international Science Presenter (with a specialism in science busking)

What project did you design and deliver?
Designed and delivered (in and around Manchester); the "Learn To Love Science" busking set as a testbed for street theatre shows dedicated to STEM

What was the best thing about winning the Josh Award?
To win a national award in the memory of that amazing science communicator and my very dear friend and colleague Josh Phillips. It was so lovely to gain recognition from my peers for my work in popularising science busking as a means of communicating science to diverse audiences and communities.

Karen Bultitude

Senior Lecturer in Science Communication, UCL

Chris Smith

Cambridge University and The Naked Scientists

© BIG STEM Communicators Network

Contact BIG:

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software