ESRC impact awards

Ella Rhodes reports.

The winners of this year’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Prize have been announced, including important work by psychologists and cognitive scientists in areas as diverse as reading, autistic employability and adolescent mental health. The prize, which has been running for eight years, rewards ESRC-funded research which has had an impact on society, policy, business and enterprise. 

The finalist in the Outstanding Business and Enterprise Impact category was cognitive scientist Dr Anna Remington (UCL Institute of Education), Director of the UCL Centre for Research in Autism and Education, for her work in helping to enhance the employability of autistic people. Only 16 per cent of autistic adults have full-time jobs and Remington has been working for 10 years researching autistic skills and finding ways to ensure workplaces recognise them through influencing company culture and practices. 

The winners of the Outstanding International Impact category were psychologists and cognitive scientists Professor Kathy Rastle (Royal Holloway University of London), a former BPS Spearman Medal winner Professor Kate Nation (University of Oxford), and Professor Anne Castles (Macquarie University), for their work on reading. Their research on the science of how children learn to read has been changing the way it is taught in schools around the world.  

The Panel's Choice award winners and finalists in the Outstanding Public Policy Impact category were Professor of Economics Emla Fitzsimons (UCL) and Dr Praveetha Patalay (UCL), former winner of the BPS Award for Outstanding Doctoral Research, for their exploration of adolescent mental health. Using evidence from national cohort data they revealed the scale of mental health problems in adolescents in the UK as well as the drivers behind those rates of mental ill-health. 

Economist Professor Richard Layard (London School of Economics and Political Science) was winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award for his research showing that better wellbeing can improve both the economy and people’s lives. Founder and Director of the ESRC’s Centre for Economic Performance and Co-director of the Centre’s Community Wellbeing Programme, Layard co-founded the Action for Happiness campaign and his work was instrumental in the IAPT (Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies) programme. 

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