HIS audience thought he was both entertaining and thought-provoking and now Edinburgh Fringe performer Dr Alan Gow can call himself an award-winning act as he has been named the winner of a prestigious accolade from the British Psychological Society.

The Heriot-Watt associate professor has appeared on the Fringe in the light-hearted Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas but his intentions are highly serious and now the society has given him its public education and media award.

Heriot-Watt University stated: “Dr Gow’s research focuses on the identification of lifestyle and behavioural factors that may protect or harm the ageing brain, particularly factors which are malleable, such as activity and exercise, social networks and support and the jobs people have done, and how these may reduce the effects of ageing.”

It’s the way that Gow tells them that has won him the award. He gives inspirational talks to older people’s groups and other public engagements as well as the Fringe show.

Dr Carl Senior, chairman of the society’s psychology education and public engagement board, said: “We have never had such a large number of nominations for this award and the panel was simply flabbergasted at the quality of these submissions.

“It was a unanimous decision that Gow’s activities truly engaged the public by placing psychology firmly and centrally within their awareness. “If public engagement is key to the continued development of psychology then Alan Gow is clearly leading the vanguard of such development. Congratulations.”

Gow said: “One of the things we as researchers in psychology are fortunate to have is that people are generally interested in, well, people. That gives us a great opportunity to communicate our research to a broad range of audiences but also an important responsibility as many of the things we explore represent the big questions about psychological health and wellbeing.

“For me that communication is something I’ve tried to embed within my job rather than seeing it as separate. When I heard about the award I was genuinely, though very pleasantly, surprised.

“I’ve been fortunate to have many opportunities to share my passion for my research with the support of many colleagues and collaborators, so this recognition is for them too.”

Gow also co-chairs the Young Academy of Scotland’s, Research the Headlines, blog alongside Dr Sinead Rhodes. Here researchers discuss the way in which research is portrayed in the media, good and bad, to help the public understanding of research and the process that takes this from “lab to headline”.