Erik van Sebille wins first ERC Public Engagement with Research Award

Oceanographer Erik van Sebille has been awarded the ERC Public Engagement with Research Award 2020. With the award, the European Research Council (ERC) aims to recognise researchers who make the effort to engage with audiences beyond the scientific community and do so in effective and original ways. “I’m very excited and honoured to win the award,” said Van Sebille during the online ceremony. With this award, ERC shows that science is not something you do on your own in a lab, but rather something you do together with a community, with the world.

Erik van Sebille voor een scherm met afgebeelde oceaanstromingen

Van Sebille receives the award in the category Press and media relations for the public outreach activities around his ERC project Tracking Of Plastic In Our Seas (TOPIOS). Although plastic pollution in the oceans has received extensive media attention, there are a number of pervading myths. Van Sebille is praised for his continuous efforts to bust these myths, with the aim of improving the quality of the public discourse on solutions to plastic pollution. The centrepiece of this public outreach effort is a website that provides concise answers to seven common misconceptions about plastic pollution in oceans.

Seven myths

Through his outreach activities, Van Sebille has reached a range of international media with a single and clear message: debunking these myths, resulting in impressive media coverage. The jury commends this approach of having a single, clear message, which not only had a considerable impact in the media but also engaged policymakers at the international level.

Watch the announcement of the award in this recording of the ceremony on 7 July

ERC Public Engagement with Research Award

The prize consists of a trophy, certificate, tailored communication training sessions, and the winners will be featured prominently in the ERC communication channels. Van Sebille is one of three laureates for this year’s award, selected by a jury of renowned researchers, science communicators, science journalists and science policy makers out of a total of 138 nominations.