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Optical physicist Dr Jacopo Bertolotti (left) and climate scientist Dr James Screen (right).

Exeter academics recognised as rising stars of research by Leverhulme Awards

Two rising research stars at the University of Exeter have been recognised by each receiving a highly prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize.

Climate scientist Dr James Screen and optical physicist Dr Jacopo Bertolotti have both been awarded prizes of £100,000 towards their continued research, in recognition of their respective work on rapid Arctic climate change and light scattering in fundamental physics.

The Philip Leverhulme Prize is awarded to researchers who have already had a significant international impact and whose future research career is exceptionally promising.

Dr Screen and Dr Bertolotti were among 30 exceptional academics nationwide to be awarded a prize, across the subject areas of Classics, Earth Sciences, Physics, Politics and International Relations, and Visual and Performing Arts.

Dr Screen, a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Mathematics with a specific expertise in polar climate, also currently holds a prestigious NERC (Natural Environmental Research Council) Fellowship. His current and future research aims to improve understanding of how the inexorable retreat of Arctic sea ice will impact weather and climate in Europe and the US.

Dr Screen said: “It is hugely gratifying and an honour to have my research achievements recognised by this prestigious award. The prize will support my research into links between Arctic climate change and mid-latitude weather, a topic of great scientific and societal importance."

Dr Bertolotti, a Lecturer in Exeter’s Physics and Astronomy department, is a leading optical physicist who uses light scattering to both answer questions in fundamental physics and develop new imaging systems.

His research aims to pioneer new techniques that combine conventional imaging of the highly-scattered light with advanced computational techniques to recover high-quality images not observable by the naked eye.

He said: "I am extremely happy to have received this honour, it is always very pleasing to have your work recognized but even more so when it comes in the form of such a prestigious prize. The award will allow me to continue my research on imaging through scattering and opaque media, with the ultimate goal to develop methods able to recover images through living, biological tissues.”

Professor Ken Evans, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences said: “These awards are an outstanding achievement for James and Jacopo, and confirms their burgeoning reputations in their respective fields worldwide. I am delighted that their crucial research is being supported, encouraged and boosted through these prestigious prizes.

“They are also testament to the world-class research and teaching carried out not just within the College, but also the University as a whole. I look forward to seeing how their outstanding research develops in the years to come.”

Philip Leverhulme Prizes have been offered since 2001 in commemoration of the contribution to the work of the Trust made by Philip Leverhulme, the Third Viscount Leverhulme and grandson of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of the Trust.

Date: 17 November 2015

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