UK’s top academics awarded prestigious research professorships

19 May 2017

The British Academy and the Wolfson Foundation have announced four new British Academy/Wolfson Research Professorships to enable some of the UK’s most outstanding scholars to immerse themselves in research.

First awarded in 2009, the awards give established scholars the opportunity to concentrate on a significant research programme for three years, whilst freeing them from normal teaching and administrative commitments. Emphasis is placed on the ability of award holders to communicate their research to a broad audience.

More than 100 academics from across the country applied for the four positions. The Academy's Research Awards Committee commented on the “unprecedentedly high standard of competition” with which they were faced in selecting the recipients.

The four British Academy/Wolfson Research Professorships have been awarded to:

Professor Hasok Chang - Hans Rausing Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge
Title of research: Philosophy of Active Scientific Knowledge

Professor Ian Leigh - Professor of Law, Durham University,
Title of research: Freedom of Conscience: Emerging Challenges and Future Prospects

Professor Yaron Matras - Professor of Linguistics, University of Manchester
Title of research: Toward a new epistemology of urban multilingualism

Dr Paul Seaward - Director, History of Parliament Trust
Title of research: Time, memory, space, culture and power: Parliament as cultural practice, Reformation to Referendum

Alun Evans, Chief Executive at the British Academy, said: “We’re delighted to award these research professorships in partnership with our colleagues at the Wolfson Foundation.  The standard and calibre of applications were of the highest order and our awards committee were faced with some tough choices when they were whittling the shortlist down to the final four.

“If we are to remain one of the world’s leading lights for research, it’s essential that we continue to support, nurture and develop the UK’s top academic minds. This scheme plays a huge part in that, as it offers our leading scholars the freedom to embark on significant areas of research, without the day-to-day stresses of teaching and administrative duties.”

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive at the Wolfson Foundation, said: “We are delighted once again to be funding these awards, which embody the Wolfson Foundation’s aim to improve the health of society by supporting excellence in the research and dissemination of knowledge. We are keen to emphasise the importance to UK society of high quality research in the humanities and social sciences. Working in partnership with expert institutions such as the British Academy enables us to maximise the reach of our grant-making activities, and we greatly look forward to the success of the new BA/Wolfson Professors in their exciting fields of research.”

The awards, which are fully funded by the Wolfson Foundation, are each of £165,000 (£55,000 p.a. for three years).

Editor’s notes:

  1. The British Academy for the humanities and social sciences. Established by Royal Charter in 1902, its purpose is to inspire and support high achievement in the humanities and social sciences throughout the UK and internationally, and to promote their public value. For more information, please visit Follow the British Academy on Twitter @britac_news.
    For further information, please contact the Press Office on [email protected] or 020 7969 5227

  2. The Wolfson Foundation ( is an independent grant-making charity that aims to promote the civic health of society by supporting excellence in the arts & humanities, education, science and health. Since 1955, over £800 million (£1.7 billion in real terms) has been awarded to more than 10,000 projects across the UK, all on the basis of expert peer review.
    Follow us on Twitter @wolfsonfdn and on Facebook at /WolfsonFoundation

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