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Alice Roberts announced as keynote speaker at UK’s largest university technicians’ summit

The anthropologist, author and TV presenter - Alice Roberts, has been announced as the first keynote speaker for the Higher Education Technicians Summit (HETS) 2019, the UK’s biggest conference for university and research institute technicians.

The largest event of its kind in the country, HETS, which is taking place at the University of Birmingham on 25th June, is dedicated to sharing best practice amongst technical staff working in higher education and research in the UK and Ireland.

HETS is sponsored by Midlands Innovation, in partnership with the Science Council.

Professor of Public Engagement with Science at the University of Birmingham, Alice Roberts is a writer and broadcaster who focuses on the structure and function of humans and their place in the wider environment. She has presented a wide range of television series including The Incredible Human Journey, Origins of Us and Digging for Britain on BBC2, and Britain’s Most Historic Towns on Channel 4. She presented the 2018 Christmas Lectures at the Royal Institution, exploring human identity through biology. She has written eight books, including The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being and Tamed: Ten species that changed our world.

Speaking about HETS 2019, Alice said: “I’m really pleased to have been invited to speak at this conference. University teaching and research - and indeed television production - depends on teamwork. Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky to work with some fantastic technicians - and I wouldn’t have been able to do my job without their dedication and expertise. I’m looking forward to meeting more colleagues at the conference in June."

The 2019 HETS conference will be the largest event held specifically for UK and Ireland higher education and research technical staff building on the previous successful summits in 2015 in Nottingham and in Warwick in 2017. The conference is structured around a range of “hot topics” and will also discuss broader issues around technical skills and education, including the importance of technicians in driving forward innovation, and the latest initiatives to ensure the future provision of technical education to young people.

Dr Helen Turner, Director of Midlands Innovation, added: “It is very exciting that Alice Roberts has agreed to join us at HETS 2019. Alice is a great advocate for technicians and the work that they do, and I am sure that all of the delegates at HETS 2019 will be fascinated to learn the story about her journey to get to where she is today.”

The Higher Education Technicians Summit will also be recognising the excellent achievements of technicians across the UK through the awarding of their ‘Papin Prizes’. The Papin Prizes will be awarded to technicians for a range of activities in areas including teaching, research, infrastructure, outreach and more.

Kelly Vere, Programme Director of the Technician Commitment, commented: “The Papin Prizes are designed to recognise the excellent work of technicians in higher education and research across the UK. It is important that we highlight and recognise their contributions, and the Papin Prizes offer a prestigious opportunity to do that, so I would strongly encourage staff and students to nominate colleagues.”

Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, added: “Our technical staff underpin so much of what we do here in Birmingham which is why we established the Birmingham Technical Academy in 2018 to support the skills, professional development and careers of our technicians. 

“I am delighted that the University of Birmingham is able to host this summit, the largest ever UK conference for university technicians. HETS is an important example of the way that the Midlands Innovation partners are working together to support and celebrate our technical community. Delegates will receive a very warm welcome when they come here, and I am sure that they will all find the summit extremely useful in terms of developing their skills and knowledge, and making valuable new contacts.”

To register for HETS 2019, or to nominate a technician for the Papin Prizes (closing date 20th February), visit http://www.midlandsinnovation.org.uk/programmes/hets2019.aspx


For more information about this press release, please contact Nick King at Midlands Innovation, on 0115 748 6727, or email nick.king@era.ac.uk 

Notes to editors

About the Technician Commitment
The Technician Commitment is a university and research institution initiative, led by a steering group of sector bodies, with support from the Science Council and the Gatsby Foundation’s Technicians Make It Happen campaign. The Commitment aims to ensure visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians working in higher education and research, across all disciplines. Universities and research institutes are invited to become signatories of the Technician Commitment and pledge action against the key challenges affecting their technical staff. The Technician Commitment currently stands at 75 signatory institutions.