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Three Leverhulme awards made to St Andrews academics

Thursday 11 January 2018

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Three top research grants have been awarded to academics at the University of St Andrews by a major national funding body.

Dr James Palmer of the School of History and Professor Kathryn Rudy of the School of Art History have been recognised with Major Research Fellowships in the latest round of awards from the Leverhulme Trust.

Dr Palmer’s project ‘Science and Belief in the Making of Early Medieval Europe’ and Professor Rudy’s ‘Measuring Medieval Users’ Responses to Manuscripts: New Technological Approaches’ have been awarded £165,353 and £174,784 respectively.

Professor Rudy will develop four techniques to investigate how medieval people used their manuscripts: pollen analysis, three-dimensional photography, parchment thickness analysis, and DNA analysis of stains.

Developing metric-based, machine-aided techniques – and applying existing techniques in new ways – she will answer humanities questions about how medieval people sourced materials, handled their books, travelled with them, and used them ritualistically.

Dr Palmer aims to build on his previous research into apocalyptic traditions to write a new cultural history of early medieval science and medicine. He will look for lost and forgotten texts in manuscripts held in libraries around Europe to explore forgotten influences on early medieval Christendom.

Meanwhile, Professor Malte Gather of the School of Physics and Astronomy has been awarded a research project grant of £328,203 over 48 months for his project ‘Lighting up the Brain: Organic LEDs as Light Sources for Optogenetics’.

Professor Gather’s project aims to adapt and miniaturise technology – organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) – which are currently used in smartphones and high-end televisions to activate and silence the firing of individual cells in neuronal networks. It is hoped the technique will help understand and, in the future, possibly manage neurological conditions and diseases such as dementia, Parkinson’s and motor neuron disease.

The Leverhulme Trust was established by the Will of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers. Since 1925 the Trust has provided grants and scholarships for research and education. Today, it is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing approximately £80m a year.


Image caption (from left to right): Dr James Palmer, Professor Kathryn Rudy and Professor Malte Gather

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office. Contact Fiona MacLeod on 01334 462108/07714 140 559 or fm43@st-andrews.ac.uk.