High-flying Oxford researchers win £100k Philip Leverhulme prizes

Four young professors at the University of Oxford have today been awarded £100k  Philip Leverhulme prizes,  for early career researchers, whose work has already had an ’international impact’ and whose future research career is ’exceptionally promising’.

Professor Jeremias Adams-Prassl , from Oxford’s Law faculty, Theologian Professor Laura Quick , Professor  Heather Harrington from Mathematics and the Biologist Dr Tanmay Bharat have been honoured for their work 

Talking about the award, Professor Adams-Prassl says, ’I’m incredibly grateful and excited - the Leverhulme Prize will support inter-disciplinary research on the global rise of algorithmic management, not least by bringing together early career researchers from across the world.’

Professor Laura Quick says, ’I am thrilled to receive this award, which will allow me to begin a new project on the concepts of beauty and aesthetics in the Hebrew Bible.’

Professor Adams-Prassl’s research is at the cutting edge of 21st century technology - looking at the implications of artificial intelligence and algorithms for employment law. The prize will help fund research on how employment law can respond to a world in which automation has not replaced workers-but their bosses?

Dr Adams-Prassl maintains, ’I hope to provide the first systematic account of the legal challenges brought about by algorithmic management in workplaces...

’Both the theoretical foundations of employment law, and its practical operation across different jurisdictions, depend on understanding and regulating the radically different organisation of the workplace of tomorrow...I hope to develop a new and positive role for employment law in ensuring algorithmic accountability and shaping the responsible use of technology at work.’

Professor Dame Sarah Whatmore, Head of the Social Science division, says, ’I am delighted that Dr Jeremias Adams-Prassl has been awarded this prestigious prize as an acknowledgement of his talent and potential. His work on the future of labour markets is a vital area of social sciences research with the potential to have wide-ranging policy impacts.’

Meanwhile, Professor Quick’s ground-breaking work brings fresh research to ancient text. She says, ’Beauty is an important conceptual category which animates and informs biblical literature, yet scholars have failed to interrogate the concept beyond inherited theological frameworks. As a result, the unique perspective of the Hebrew Bible has been neglected, and the field of biblical studies has been disengaged from larger humanistic inquiry into beauty and aesthetics.

’My research will interrogate the aesthetic attitudes of biblical literature, opening up hitherto unexplored perspectives on the social, intellectual, and cultural world which shaped the Hebrew Bible. By connecting the Hebrew Bible to the history of aesthetics, I hope to shed new light onto both disciplines.’

Professor Karen O’Brien, Head of Humanities, says, ’Laura’s work is characterised by a bold pursuit of large themes, backed by traditional historical-critical and exegetical techniques. In only her second year in post, she has already written on curses, dresses, the body, and beauty in a way that combines philological rigour with a real concern for the wider humanities. She is one of our most promising young scholars.’

Dr Bill Wood, chair of faculty board for Theology & Religion, adds, ’I was thrilled when Laura Quick re-joined the Faculty of Theology and Religion last year. Laura is an unusually creative and productive scholar, having already written two major monographs and some 20 academic essays. Her new project on beauty and aesthetics in biblical literature is sure to have significant implications for understanding both the Bible and the history of aesthetics.’

Meanwhile, Professor Heather Harrington has already won the Whitehead and Adams prizes for her work, which covers a range of topics in applied mathematics, including algebraic systems biology, inverse problems, computational biology, and information processing in biological and chemical systems. She is the Co-Director of the Centre for Topological Data Analysis in Oxford.

Professor Harrington says, ’I’m really humbled and honoured to have received this prize. My research is only possible through extensive collaborative networks, and I’m very grateful to my collaborators. I am hoping the prize funds can go towards exploring new research ideas as well as supporting students interested in research careers at the interface between pure and applied mathematics.’