Curriculum manager for science and sport at Inverness College and organiser of the Inverness Monster Science Festival, Elizabeth Barron, is to be made an MBE for her work in science engagement as part of the 2011 New Year Honours.
Dr Barron will receive the prestigious award at a ceremony hosted by the Queen later this year. She volunteers as a STEM ambassador, an initiative managed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to young people in the Highlands and Islands to ensure the region's future workforce has the necessary skills to grow key sectors such as energy and life sciences.
Her involvement in this initiative has led to her creating and delivering a series of science seminars for young people, and becoming a mentor for three fifth year pupils from Highland schools, helping to encourage and support them with STEM subjects.
Since joining Inverness College in 2003, Liz has been a passionate advocate for science in the Highlands and is well known and respected in the region. Her innovative thinking in the area of life sciences education contributed to the development of the modern apprenticeship in life sciences, now available at the college alongside a wide range of other courses in a variety of science subjects.
Dr Barron, who is originally from Nairn, graduated with an honours degree in Botany from Edinburgh University and completed her PhD (a study of Arnica plants grown at the Agronomy Institute in Orkney) in 2010, also dedicates much of her own time to inspire young people and the community about science by organising events and activities. Her most recent success was the creation of the Inverness Monster Science Festival, the city's largest science festival to date, which took place in June last year and is set to become an annual event.
Donna Chisholm, head of innovation and skills at HIE, said: "We're delighted to hear that Liz has been recognised for her ongoing hard work and enthusiasm. Many young people's careers are influenced by individuals they come into contact with through initiatives such as the STEM Ambassadors programme and Liz continues to be a real inspiration."
As the Inverness contact person for the Scottish Resources Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology, Dr Barron is also helping to encourage and support female students studying these traditionally male dominated subjects.
For more information on the STEM ambassador programme visit www.stemnorthofscotland.com or call Janice Wallace at HIE on 01463 234171.