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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory
Stuart Macpherson

Many congratulations to Cavendish PhD student Stuart Macpherson, from Sam Strank’s Lab, one of nine students to be recognised in this year’s Vice Chancellor’s Social Impact Award.

Presented every year to students who show exceptional achievement and commitment to positive social change, the prize recognises Macpherson's and teammate Beth Tennyson’s work on free, sustainability-themed teaching resources for primary schools.

Stuart Macpherson is a final year PhD student in Physics funded through an EPSRC studentship, at Darwin College. His research focuses on understanding the physics of emerging solar photovoltaic technologies. Stuart has co-developed the Primary School Energy Mapping Challenge aimed at 9–11 year olds. Through hands-on measurements and data logging, students increase their awareness about climate change and learn how to critically approach scientific problems and apply the knowledge gained to solve real-world problems. The project has already been piloted at 6 schools across the country, and is now scaling up further.

In a blog for Cambridge Hub, Stuart gives his views about his journey and the reasons why he believes it is so important to engage with social and environmental causes whilst at university:

Scientists have a responsibility to disseminate knowledge for the benefit of society. As a researcher of solar energy materials, I challenged myself to create forward-thinking, solutions-based projects to engage young people with issues surrounding climate, energy and sustainable living. The supportive environment of my research group provided me with an ideal space to develop approaches to connect with young people of all backgrounds in an inclusive manner, and to energise them on sustainability issues. I hope this award will help to stimulate further growth of these projects and I am deeply grateful for the recognition.

Read the full blog here.