Essex academics changing the world through their research

  • Date

    Fri 30 Jun 17

The very best examples of how Essex research is having a positive impact on peoples’ everyday lives, were showcased at the Research Impact Awards.

Professor Shamit Saggar, Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research, said: "The 2017 University Impact Awards show our impact agenda in action. Our 10 shortlisted entries display an abundance of engagement with research users and practitioners in a wide variety of sectors. Through painstaking research and carefully cultivated relationships, Essex is making a name for itself as a university that is committed to working with others to create knowledge that makes a difference."

The awards are open to all academics, researchers and doctoral students. Philosophy Professor Wayne Martin, the winner of the best international research impact award said: “People often express surprise when they realise that I am using philosophy in concrete practical contexts – working directly with social workers, psychiatrists, service users, judges, and civil servants.

“But when they realise that I am from the University of Essex they are less surprised. The intertwinement of teaching, world-class research, and engagement with the most pressing problems of the day seems to be part of the DNA here. That Essex spirit has certainly left an indelible mark on my work.”

The full list of winners and runners-up in each category were as follows:

Best Research Impact Award by an early career researcher or doctoral student

Winner: Dr Kathryn Buchanan – Department of Psychology

For her work in changing policy and practice in smart energy management technologies through stakeholder engagement.

Runners-up: Dr Anil Yilmaz-Vastardis – School of Law

For research looking into who can be held accountable for human rights abuses.

Dr Jonathan Crane – Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies

For his work on setting up creative writing workshops in prison, following his study of ‘flash’ fiction, which typically is under 1,000 words and has an epiphany moment as a focal point.

Best International Research Impact Award

Winner: Professor Wayne Martin – School of Philosophy and Art History

Under his leadership, The Essex Autonomy Project is helping to shape the reform of disability and mental capacity legislation across the UK and around the world. The EAP team has developed a framework for achieving compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Runners-up: Professor Maria Cristina Fumagalli - Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies

Her book On the Edge, is the first to explore the literary and cultural history of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In it she identifies strong cultural links between the nations, which she believes could help pave the way to greater social harmony.

Dr Misagh Tasavori – Essex Business School

For her work in helping students in Iran set up their own businesses after her major study revealed they lacked the entrepreneurial skills which could help their country prosper.

Best Research Impact

Winner: Dr Hani Hagras – School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

For his work using fuzzy logic to develop the iPatch, which enables BT to plan the movement of staff to make sure the right person is in right place at the right time. As a result, the company has increased productivity and customer satisfaction, while reducing both costs and their carbon footprint.

Runners-up: Professor Pam Cox – Department of Sociology

For her research which could lead to improvements in support services, aimed at helping women to avoid having multiple children taken into care.

Professor Maurice Sunkin - School of Law

For his research looking into the use and impact of Judicial Review - the main way of challenging decisions made by public bodies. He has found a correlation in the increase in challenges and improved performance.

Dr Stevphen Shukaitis – Essex Business School

For his research into the work of artist Gee Vaucher and his hand-on collaboration with FirstSite, a local gallery.

This year’s celebration includes the inaugural University research impact annual lecture – delivered by Dr Bobby Duffy, Global Director of the Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute. The awards and lecture signal the University’s commitment to world class research that makes a difference to social and human welfare.