IPEM Fellow awarded outreach prize


AN IPEM Fellow has been awarded an outreach prize for her work to help educate schoolchildren about medical physics.

Professor Carmel Moran, who holds the Chair of Translational Ultrasound at the Centre for Cardiovascular Science at the Queen’s Medical Research Institute at the University of Edinburgh, has been awarded the IPEM Spiers’ Prize for Outreach.

She won a ScotPEN Wellcome Engagement Award for a project entitled ‘Imaging Inside-Out’, which was aimed at Scottish secondary school pupils to reveal how imaging and physics techniques are applied in clinical and preclinical (animal) scenarios to learn more about health and disease.

Pupils were given a brief overview of imaging techniques used in hospitals (x-ray, ultrasound, magnetic resonance and positron emission tomography) and were asked if they had experienced any of them, which led to a discussion about the physics behind each technique.

Pupils used hand-held ultrasound scanners (of varying frequencies and hence resolution) to image 3D miniaturised shapes (cubes, pyramids, cones and spheres) of a range of sizes, embedded at different orientations in opaque gels.

Ultrasound images

A discussion was then held on other uses of ultrasound (veterinary applications and medical research) to seek views on the use of animals in medical research. Pupils were then encouraged to use the handheld ultrasound scanners to scan more objects (3D printed mice of different sizes embedded in opaque gel). The project also utilised the ultrasound foetal phantom from IPEM’s outreach equipment library.

The aim of the activity was to:

  • Discuss how physics is central to the development and implementation of diagnostic imaging techniques used in hospitals, and to chat about careers where these techniques may be encountered – medical physics, radiography, radiology etc
  • Discuss why we need to use animals in medical research
  • Give demonstrators more confidence in speaking to public groups about the physics of imaging techniques and about animal research.

The outreach activity has so far been delivered to a Scouts group in Edinburgh, and more than 160 schoolchildren at an outreach event at the University of Edinburgh and at two local high schools in the city.   

‘Engaged and excelled’

Professor Moran said: ‘I am delighted to win this IPEM Spiers outreach prize.  The outreach team, which is composed of students and post-doctoral researchers from both the University of Edinburgh and Heriot Watt University, have really engaged and excelled in discussing imaging physics with young people in schools and Scout groups.  This award is a tribute to their enthusiasm.’

Dr Anna Barnes, IPEM’s President, said: ‘Congratulations to Carmel and the team for their dedicated work to promote and educate schoolchildren about medical physics, a cornerstone of IPEM’s charitable objectives.’