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King's Award for Professor Simon Wessely

24 September 2010

Professor Simon Wessely was presented with the King's Award for Media Personality of the Year 2010 last night at a reception in the Weston Room, Maughan Library, Strand Campus.

For the fourth year, members of the College community gathered to celebrate the excellence and contributions of staff and students.  Adam Boulton, Sky News’ Political Editor and member of College Council, reprised the role of Master of Ceremonies while the Principal Professor Rick Trainor presented the 20 King's Award winners with their awards and paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of all staff, students and alumni.  Professor Wessely's award was for the academic who had secured exceptional positive media coverage for the College over the previous year.

Professor Wessely said:  'I am pleased and touched by this recognition from King's. It is very important for scientists to engage with the media - to ensure the public has access to accurate, evidence-based scientific information, to keep us ever present in the minds of policy makers and funders, and to inform public debate. Also, I can honestly say, it's a lot of fun!'

Professor Simon Wessely is a trusted port-of-call for journalists who need an honest and reliable source of information delivered in a way which is meaningful for their audience. He is committed to science communication and sits on the Science Advisory Panel of the Science Media Centre – an independent organisation dedicated to facilitating scientists to engage with the media and improve public access to accurate, evidence-based scientific information. He will always make time for the media and has been known to give interviews on the telephone en-route to Paris during his annual cycle ride to raise money for ex-service men and women in need.

Professor Wessely trained at the Maudsley Hospital in 1984 and moved over to the IoP in 1989, where he has remained ever since. Shortly after starting at the IoP he penned a column on science and health for The Times, which was his introduction to journalism and the media. He has carved a reputation for being warm, receptive and at the forefront of research within his field; a persona which translates through the range of media platforms. He has taken part in media training the next generation of science communicators at the IoP and encourages his team to engage with the media.

His research interests have included epidemiology, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psychological debriefing, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), history, chronic pain, somatisation, Gulf War illness, military health and terrorism. Most recently, however, he has focused on military health and is Honorary Civilian Consultant Advisor in Psychiatry to the Army.

As Professor of Psychological Medicine at the IoP and Director of the King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR), Professor Wessely recently led positive media coverage on complex research results which contradicted expectations that PTSD in the UK Armed Forces was increasing but highlighted that alcohol misuse was rising, as well as showing some of the benefits of military service on mental and social functioning. Amongst other interviews this year, too numerous to mention, one of the highlights was a Q&A interview with Nature magazine.

Prof  Wessely is an asset to King’s in its endeavour to disseminate cutting-edge science to the wider public.

For further details of the King's Awards and details of the other winners:



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