Our 2021 winners

Our annual awards showcase the very best examples of how Essex research is having a positive impact on people’s everyday lives.

The awards are open to all academics, researchers and doctoral students and signal the University’s commitment to world-class research that makes a difference.

This year’s entries demonstrate the astonishing breadth of our work and show how experts are able to work together to use research to make the world a better place.

Our winners

Best Research Impact by an Early Career Researcher

Winner: Dr Haim Abraham, School of Law

Project: Access to surrogacy in Israel

Best Research Impact in Enterprise and Innovation

Winner: Professor Tracy Lawson, Dr Philippe Laissue, Professor Richard Geider, School of Life Sciences

Project: Commercialising innovations in optical devices for environmental and agricultural applications to boost business performance.

Best International Research Impact

Joint Winner: Professor Thankom Arun, Essex Business School

Project: Encouraging financial inclusion – improving policies and protecting families

Joint Winner: Judith Bueno de Mesquita, School of Law and Human Rights Centre

Project: Realising the right to health

Best UK Public Policy Impact

Winner: Professor Robert Johns, Department of Government

Project: Shaping public views on foreign aid

Outstanding Early Career Researcher

Faculty of Humanities

Winner: Dr Joanna Rzepa, Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies

Nominated for her research specialism in translation studies and the Holocaust. She has received international recognition for her work, has written a game-changing monograph, has contributed commissioned articles and delivered keynote speeches and has developed innovative and popular modules for her students in LiFTS.

Runner-up: Dr Daniel O’Brien, Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies

Nominated for his extraordinary output of five highly-regarded articles in a very short space of time and for his interdisciplinary work with colleagues in journalism and drama.

Runner-up: Dr Emily Jones, School of Law

Nominated for outstanding contribution to research at Essex and for developing her profile as a leading interdisciplinary scholar in the area of international law, gender, technology and posthumanism.

Faculty of Science and Health

Winner: Dr Xiaojun Zhai, School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering.

Nominated for his cutting-edge research on embedded systems, his high publication rate and for his success in generating significant income.

Runner-up: Dr Natalie Hicks, School of Life Sciences

Nominated for leading a large multi-institute NERC-funded project tackling the ecological impacts of man-made structures, such as gas pipelines and oil rigs and for her published papers, which are attracting regular citations.

Runner-up: Dr Eoin O’Gorman, School of Life Sciences.

Nominated for producing an exceptional number of papers, many of which have been published in top journals, for attracting external funding and for his positive participation on the life of the school.

Runner-up: Dr Shoaib Jameel, School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

Nominated for his tremendous potential as a researcher, teacher, leader and administrator and for securing internal and external funding.

Faculty of Social Sciences

Winner: Dr Anna Di Ronco, Department of Sociology

Nominated for her numerous and varied publications, her interdisciplinary and international collaborations, her grant and impact success, her work supporting PhD students and in organising and chairing research events.

Runner-up: Dr Marta Fernandez de Arroyabe, Essex Business School.

Nominated for her outstanding research contribution, having co-authored 16 high-quality papers in a short space of time and for being a talented educator, who receives excellent student feedback for her teaching and who leads on finding ways to further improve student satisfaction, progression and employment skills.

Outstanding Interdisciplinary Research

Winner: Professor Tracy Lawson, School of Life Sciences

Project: The Essex Plant Innovation Centre (EPIC) which brings together academics from Life Sciences, Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, the Institute for Analytics and Data Science and Essex Business School to address some of the challenges faced by farmers and others in the agricultural and horticultural sectors.

Research Champion

Faculty of Humanities

Winner: Professor Katharine Cockin, Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies

Nominated for: leading on the department’s REF submission, for being on the AHRC Peer Review college of reviewers and for supporting colleagues in their grant applications by providing feedback.

Faculty of Social Sciences

Winner: Professor Elisabeth Kelan, Essex Business School

Nominated for: being a world-class academic in organisational gender dynamics – she is among the top 2% of most cited scholars in the world and has worked with the United Nations, International Labour Organization and others; for her success in obtaining funding and for her support of colleagues within the department.

Runner-up: Professor Shane Martin, Department of Government

Nominated for: being an internationally-recognised authority on parliaments and legislatures, for his outstanding record of research publications (including three books), for generating research income, for his leadership qualities and support for colleagues through his position as Head of Department and for his role in preparing the department’s REF submission.

The Conversation awards

Every week our academics use their expertise to analyse the latest news and encourage engagement with their research by writing for The Conversation – an independent source of news and views written by academics for the general public.

In the past year 36 Essex academics have written more than 50 articles, which achieved 2.1 million reads and generated more than 630 comments.

The Conversation awards go to the writers of the best-read articles in the last 12 months.

Faculty of Science and Health

ASMR: What we know so far about this unique brain phenomenon – and what we don’t.
Dr Giulia Poerio, Department of Psychology
Published: 15 September 2020 – 133,463 reads so far

Faculty of Social Sciences

Will Trump or Biden win the US election? This could be a better predictor than the polls.
Dr Christoph Siemroth, Department of Economics
Published: 13 August 2020 – 220,811 reads so far

Faculty of Humanities

The Johnny Depp libel trial explained.
Dr Alexandros Antoniou, School of Law
Published 3 November 2020 – 102,260 reads so far