Professor Linda Bauld has said she is “delighted” to have been made an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, after putting in “many, many hours” with public health colleagues during the coronavirus pandemic.
Prof Bauld has been a regular on TV and radio in the past 15 months, explaining the course of the pandemic and commenting on the various restrictions put in place by Government.
She has also been an adviser to the Scottish Parliament’s Covid-19 Committee, all while continuing her role as chair of public health at Edinburgh University.
She told the PA news agency: “I just got a letter from the office that manages the honours system. I had no idea and I was delighted.
“I have, for quite some time, engaged with the media and done a lot of science communication – trying to interpret data and communicate it to the public and decision makers.
“I think the OBE is for two things, it’s for contributing to the response to address the pandemic and public understanding.”
Most Scots will recognise Prof Bauld from various media appearances since the onset of the pandemic, which she hopes has highlighted the need for effective scientific communication in the future.
“That’s not a role that academics often are trained to take up and it’s not always valued by universities,” she said.
But the professor predicts a “sea change” in scientific communication across the world as a result of the pandemic.
“Scientists have never been in the public limelight on television and radio to the extent that they have been over the past 15 months,” she said.
“That’s because the public needed to hear from the scientists doing the research or understanding the research.”
Interest in the public health field, she said, has also increased in the last year.
“There’s absolutely no doubt to me that epidemiology, public health, virology, all the disciplines associated with trying to find solutions to a crisis on the science side are more accessible to pupils now,” she said.
“I just hope there’s more interest in science. In medicine, in public health and also in population health.
“Let’s try and find good things to take from this.”