Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2019 awarded to Dr Amelia Ortiz-Gil
The 2019 Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement with Planetary Science has been awarded to Dr Amelia Ortiz-Gil in recognition of her pioneering work in developing educational and outreach resources for people with a range of physical and cognitive special needs.
Dr Ortiz-Gil has more than 15 years’ experience working in outreach at the University of Valencia (Spain), and has led numerous initiatives to promote accessibility in astronomy, including the development of tactile 3D planetary globes of the Moon, Mars and Venus. In 2013, she led the development of “A Touch of the Universe”, the first project to create a kit of astronomical resources accessible to the blind and visually impaired. To date, 30 kits have been distributed to educators and teachers in South America, Asia and Africa and the resources are also available under a Creative Commons license at: https://astrokit.uv.es/
“I think the sky is there for everybody to enjoy and it is our moral duty as outreach professionals to help everybody to reach the stars,” said Dr Ortiz-Gil.
Dr Ortiz-Gil is currently the chair of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group on Astronomy for Equity and Inclusion and is National Outreach Coordinator for Spain. She is leading Spain’s celebrations of the IAU’s 100th anniversary in 2019 and has contributed to the IAU100 international traveling exhibition “Inspiring Stars” about inclusivity and accessibility in astronomy, from school to professional environments. During the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) 2009, Dr Ortiz-Gil led the development of “Hands in the Sky” planetarium show for the blind and coordinated the activities for people with disabilities in Spain.
Dr Pedro Russo, from Leiden University and former Global Coordinator of International Year of Astronomy 2009, said: “Dr Ortiz-Gil has been instrumental in making planetary science and astronomy more inclusive and diverse. Through her projects she managed to create innovative and award-wining resources and create a community of practitioners.”
The Europlanet Prize, which includes an award of 4000 Euros, will be presented during the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday 16th September.
Thilina Heenatigala, Earth-Life Science Institute (Japan), who nominated Dr Ortiz Gil for the Europlanet Prize, said, “Amelia brings passion, empathy, and enthusiasm into her work. Her collaborative approach gathers teams beyond boarders to work together.”
Dr Régis Courtin, Chair of the Europlanet Prize 2019 Judging Panel, said, “The panel, on behalf of Europlanet, is delighted to have this opportunity to recognise the important contribution of Amelia Ortiz-Gil to public engagement for astronomy and planetary science.”
Dr Amelia Ortiz-Gil discusses her inspirations, motivations and current projects in this interview on the Europlanet Society website: https://www.europlanet-society.org/interview-with-amelia-ortiz-gil-europlanet-prize-winner-2019/
“A Touch of The Universe” is a non-profit project for a tactile astronomy kit addressed to children with vision impairments. The first 30 kits were sent to educators and teachers in underdeveloped countries in Americas, Asia and Africa. The IAU’s Office of Astronomy for Development has funded an extension of the project, “A Touch of Venus”, that includes a 3D tactile Venus globe along with an activity book in Braille and video tutorials. https://astrokit.uv.es/
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Notes for Editors
About University of Valencia
The Universitat de València’s mission is to train competent professionals at European Professional Standard and to encourage prestigious research with international implications that will contribute to the development of our society. Through training and research, the UV will promote the field of dissemination of science and culture, and also promote the reaffirmation of the democratic values of the society in general, and in the Valencian society in particular.
University of Valencia website: https://www.uv.es
Since 2005, Europlanet has provided Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science.
The Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure (RI) has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 654208 to provide access to state-of-the-art research facilities across the European Research Area and a mechanism to coordinate Europe’s planetary science community. The project builds on a €2 million Framework 6 Coordination Action and €6 million Framework 7 Research Infrastructure funded by the European Commission.
The Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement
The Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement with Planetary Science aims to recognise achievements in engaging European citizens with planetary science and to raise the profile of outreach within the scientific community. Established by Europlanet in 2010, the Prize is awarded to individuals or groups who have developed innovative practices in planetary science communication and whose efforts have significantly contributed to a wider public engagement with planetary science.
For further information, see: http://www.europlanet-eu.org/outreach/prize/