Star quality will reap rewards for young researcher

April 15, 2005

Making an impact in research can mean a variety of things - from changing the direction of a field of study to capturing the attention of a bored teenager who thought science was nerdy, writes Anna Fazackerley.

While the first ever Times Higher Awards will cover the entire higher education sector, there will be two prizes for researchers whose work - and style of working - have stood out.

The Young Researcher of the Year award aims to identify stars of the future, who are already showing great promise with striking and original research. The award is open to researchers under the age of 40 in any discipline, and comes with the added temptation of a £5,000 prize for the winner.

Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, said:

"This is a wonderful initiative. I'm delighted The Times Higher is offering an award to young researchers and I hope this will help to encourage more young people into science."

The Research Project of the Year award will be presented to an individual or team whose innovative research has had a far-reaching impact in its field.

Judges will be looking for work that has not only excited scientists working in the area, but has also captured the public imagination.

The Times Higher will take advice on nominations from experts in the research councils, the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society.

A spokesperson from the Research Councils UK strategy group said: "Some of the world's best researchers are working out of the UK and the research councils welcome all initiatives that seek to highlight their achievements.

"In particular, an award aimed at those just starting out in their careers helps bring out the breadth and scale of contemporary research."

The awards will be judged by high-profile researchers at the top of their fields, including Nancy Rothwell, MRC research professor in the faculty of life sciences and vice-president for research at Manchester University, and Peter Atkins, Smithkline Beecham fellow and professor of chemistry at Oxford University.

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