Research which makes a difference recognised by new awards

Impact making academics from the University of Sheffield whose research has transformed the world we live in have received trophies as well as thousands of pounds of grants from a funding body for their research at a new annual awards ceremony.


Professor Alan Walker, of the University’s Department of Sociological Studies, was named Impact Champion of the Year at the inaugural Celebrating Impact Prize which took place on Tuesday 14 May 2013 in London.

His work on ageing, including quality of life, building stronger links between research and policy, and identifying the priorities for growing older and health, saw him handed the prestigious award.

Professor Walker said: "I am overwhelmed at being the first ESRC Impact Champion. It is a tremendous honour. It is also rather unusual to receive an award for doing what you believe is an essential part of the research process. As well as being personally delighted I am pleased for the whole New Dynamics of Ageing Director's team."

Professor Cathy Nutbrown of the University’s Department of Education was given the award was for developing the literacy frameworks with practitioners and families.

Professor Nutbrown said: “I'm delighted to win the prize, it is a wonderful recognition of the collaboration we have built up with practitioners and with young children and their families, and I want to thank the ESRC for making this award.

“The project has had a real impact on young children's early literacy development and, in particular on the ways in which practitioners feel inspired and skilled to support parents who want to do more to help their young children.

“Our impact was a result of terrific collaboration with the National Children's Bureau, with early year’s practitioners and with families, and across several local authorities.”

Professor Matthew Flinders of the Department of Politics was also named runner-up in the Impact Champion of the Year category for his work which helped shaped public policy.

"Winning an ESRC impact prize is fantastic and in many ways reflects the engaged approach to political studies that the Department of Politics has promoted since its establishment in 1965.

"My research on public sector reform and democratic change has always attempted to bridge 'politics as theory' and 'politics as practice' and I've been lucky enough to work with the Cabinet Office, BBC and a range of other organisations in terms of demonstrating why the social sciences, in general, and the study of politics, in particular, are - if anything - increasingly important pursuits in the twenty-first century."

The Celebrating Impact Prize, which was introduced this year by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), rewards researchers for the outstanding economic and social impact of their work.

Winners received a trophy and £10,000 to promote their research, with a further £10,000 to the department of the Impact Champion of the Year, and runners up were given £5,000 to invest in impact activities.

Professor Paul Boyle, Chief Executive for the ESRC said: “We are delighted to celebrate those who have gone above and beyond in ensuring the best economic and societal impact from their work.

“The breadth of impacts rewarded by the prize demonstrates the range of issues that social science research contributes to, offering solutions to the many challenges our society faces.”

Impact is described by the ESRC as research-related skills which benefits individuals, organisations and nations, enhancing the quality of life.

The ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize is a new, annual opportunity to recognise and reward the successes of ESRC-funded researchers who have achieved, or are currently achieving, outstanding economic and societal impacts.

It is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues and supports independent, high quality research which has an impact and in the last year alone has a total budget of £205 million.

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With nearly 25,000 of the brightest students from 117 countries coming to learn alongside 1,209 of the world’s best academics, it is clear why the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading universities. Staff and students at Sheffield are committed to helping discover and understand the causes of things - and propose solutions that have the power to transform the world we live in.

A member of the Russell Group, the University of Sheffield has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2011 for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007), recognising the outstanding contribution by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

One of the markers of a leading university is the quality of its alumni and Sheffield boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students. Its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, Siemens, Yorkshire Water and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad.


For further information please contact:

Paul Mannion
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0144 222 9851