The Plus Editors, Dr Marianne Freiberger and Rachel Thomas, have received an award for their exceptional work in supporting the communication of mathematical concepts to policy-makers and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both have received the SPI-M-O Award for Modelling and Data Support (SAMDS) for their contribution to supporting the work of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M-O). The award was presented in an official letter by the Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Whitty, and the Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

Communicating complex mathematical ideas was vital in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M-O) and Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) recognise that this involved teams of people, who often worked exceptionally hard under demanding conditions to ensure that policy makers and the public had access to scientific evidence.

Plus communicates complex mathematics to non-expert audiences. In collaboration with colleagues at the University of Cambridge, particularly Professor Julia Gog, and the JUNIPER consortium of epidemiological modellers, Plus produced an extensive collection of resources explaining key mathematical concepts relevant to the pandemic, to help policy makers and the public develop a better understanding of the complex scientific issues involved. Plus articles have been cited as 'explainers' in government guidance for the public and in papers submitted to SAGE. Plus also supported wider media coverage of mathematical concepts related to the pandemic, for example contributing to the Guardian science podcast.

The SPI-M-O Award for Modelling and Data Support (SAMDS) recognises those people who have made an exceptional contribution to the work of SPI-M-O outside of their usual work activity, and demonstrates SAGE’s gratitude for the support provided by Plus.

You can explore Plus's material on COVID-19 here. To learn more about the Plus Editors' work during COVID-19, and the insights into new models of communication they gained, watch the talk below by Rachel Thomas and Marianne Freiberger given to an audience of researchers and mathematics communicators at the Isaac Newton Institute - Trust, Time and Truth.