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Academics win prestigious Leverhulme Trust Prizes

25 October 2022

Two academics at Cardiff University have been awarded prestigious 2022 Philip Leverhulme Prizes for their internationally recognised work in engineering and chemistry.

Professor Rebecca Melen from the School of Chemistry and Dr Daniel Slocombe from the School of Engineering have been announced as winners of prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prizes.

The Leverhulme Trust gives out 30 such prizes annually to exceptional researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future careers are exceptionally promising. Each prize is worth £100,000 and may be used for any purpose that advances the prize winner's research.

“We are pleased to see two physical sciences researchers being acknowledged with the Philip Leverhulme Prize, a great recognition of the international impact and future potential of their research,” said Professor Rudolf Allemann, Head of the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering.

“This is a well-deserved acknowledgement to both Professor Melen and Dr Slocombe of the important role they are playing in their exciting research areas.”

Professor Melen was awarded a prize in chemistry to investigate the synthesis and application of main group compounds. The funding will allow her to develop new skills in electrochemistry and to initiate a new research field known as electrochemical main group redox catalysis, an especially key area for industrial companies.

Professor Melen said, “My research ultimately aims to transport p-block chemistry from fundamental research towards true industrial application. This work can improve our understanding of element reactivity and could even be used to be used to develop new catalytic reactions which are crucial from a sustainability perspective.”

New catalytic methods make it possible to generate low carbon solutions, such as clean hydrogen fuels, which can help the UK to achieve net zero targets.

Dr Slocombe was awarded a prize in engineering to progress his work in clean energy technologies using electromagnetic fields. His research brings microwave science and engineering to areas in which it is not conventionally used.

He said, “My research specialises in using microwaves and alternative catalyst materials to intensify and decarbonise processes. I am thrilled to receive the funding which will allow me to pursue decarbonisation technologies in new areas, such as industrial processes.”

Decarbonisation is an urgent task faced globally, to sustain standards of living and mitigate the climate emergency.

The scheme commemorates the contribution to the work of the Trust made by Philip, Third Viscount Leverhulme and grandson of William Lever, the founder of the Trust.

A celebratory gala dinner will be held in March 2023 with prize winners and nominators in attendance.

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