Three Bristol academics win Philip Leverhulme Prizes

Dr Juliet Biggs

Dr Juliet Biggs

Dr Juliet Biggs, Dr Claire Haworth and Dr John Russo have each been awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize for their research.

The Prize is awarded for ‘achievement of outstanding researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future career is exceptionally promising’.

Dr Juliet Biggs (School of Earth Sciences)

Dr Biggs studies active volcanoes and earthquakes to examine the physics of plate boundary development. She has discovered that many volcanoes previously believed to be dormant are actually restless, and has investigated the link between deformation and eruption and the mechanisms for coupled eruptions. Her work on Africa’s Great Rift Valley has changed the perception of geophysical hazards in Africa and the way in which volcanoes are monitored and modelled globally. She will use the prize to investigate the mechanisms that drive volcano deformation globally, by exploiting the new wealth of satellite data.

Dr Claire Haworth (School of Psychological Science)

Dr Haworth uses approaches from psychology, behavioural genetics and data science to understand mental health and wellbeing. The prize primarily recognises her work on the dynamic nature of genetic and environmental influences on human behaviour. She has contributed to theory and evidence about how genetic and environmental influences on behaviour are dynamic, showing that the importance of these influences can change with age, environmental conditions and behavioural interventions. She then developed a novel method for combining the best genetic approaches with high-quality intervention methods to test her theory. She is currently using innovative computational social science methods to test her theory of dynamic genetics at high-resolution time scales and in response to real-world life events.

Dr John Russo (School of Mathematics)

Dr Russo’s interdisciplinary work borrows from techniques developed in the study of soft matter systems to develop a new method of examining the nature and properties of water, the most common but least understood material on Earth. Its anomalous behaviour is cited as one of the key unknowns in climate change modelling. Starting from the observation that the properties of water appear fine-tuned, Dr Russo uses computer simulation to ‘untune’ water’s interactions and to consider these interactions as one point in a higher dimensional space of possible interactions.