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Five University of Birmingham academics have been honoured with a Founders’ Award for Excellence at this year’s Chancellor’s Dinner.

The winners of this year’s awards are:

  • Dr Hannah Price in the category of Outstanding Early-Career Academic
  • Professor Ole Jensen in the category of Academic Advancement
  • Professor Tim Dafforn in the category of Policy Advancement
  • Professor Clive Roberts and Professor Anson Jack in the category of Business Advancement

The Founders’ Awards are named after some of the University’s most influential founders and benefactors, and demonstrate that their principles and vision of a ‘great school of universal instruction’, where our groundbreaking research has true benefits locally, nationally, and internationally, are as alive today as they were in 1900, continuing to guide and inspire the University.

There are four award categories recognising Academic, Policy, and Business Advancement plus an additional award for Outstanding Early-Career Academic.

Dr Hannah Price is an accomplished young scientist whose impact and potential has already been recognised through her Royal Society University Research Fellowship. Hannah works in an area of physics/mathematics called topology. The award of the 2016 Physics Nobel Prize to Kosterlitz and Thouless was for a discovery made at Birmingham in this field. Topology may be thought about in terms of properties of closed surfaces and the number of holes they contain; for example a sphere has no holes, whereas a doughnut has one. These are 3D objects. Hannah’s research has been transformational as it explores what happens in higher dimensions. Her work appears in high impact journals, e.g. Nature, and is highly cited.


Professor Ole Jensen’s research has focused on investigating the functional role of brain oscillations in relation to human cognition. He was appointed Professor at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands in 2013. In September 2016 he moved to University of Birmingham to become Professor of Translational Neuroscience and Co-Director of the newly established Centre for Human Brain Health. At University of Birmingham he is leading the efforts on brain oscillations and magnetoencephalography (MEG).

He has published more than 150 papers, many in high impact international journals such as Nature, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Current Biology and the Journal of Neuroscience

In 2020 he will Chair the International Conference on Biomagnetism to be held at University of Birmingham. He is panel member and advisor for several funding boards including the Norwegian Research Council and the Dutch Research Council. He is academic editor for the journals PLoS Biology and Brain Connectivity.


In recent years Professor Tim Dafforn has managed to balance parallel careers in business and policy.

His policy work began when he became one of the founders of the Synthetic Biology community in the UK. He became a member of the UK Synthetic Biology Leadership Council (Co-Chaired by the Minister for Life Sciences). He co-wrote the UK Synthetic Biology Roadmap (endorsed by the Government). In recognition of his work on synthetic biology commercialization, he became Entrepreneur in residence at the Department of Business Innovation and Skills advising the Secretary of State on Synthetic Biology. Tim was recruited as Chief Scientist in the Department working with Science Minster Jo Johnson on Open Access publishing, BlockChain and Entrepreneurship Education.

Tim led a review into entrepreneurship in England for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) which ultimately fed into the Government’s Industrial Strategy White paper published in Autumn 2017.


Professors Clive Roberts and Anson Jack have worked tirelessly to bring the rail industry together with the University of Birmingham in an extraordinary year of success. They brokered industry to support the University’s bid to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) into the Research Partner’s Infrastructure Fund (RPIF) and successfully leveraged more than two-thirds of the £92M required from industry for the bid.

This has been followed up by the establishment of UKRRIN – the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network – officially launched earlier this year. This body, led from within the University of Birmingham, is designed to create powerful collaboration between academia and industry, aiming to provide a step-change in innovation in the sector and accelerate new technologies and products from research into market applications globally. Its success is signalled by its prominent position in the UK Government’s Strategic Vision for Rail which was published earlier this year.

In recognition of their efforts, The University of Birmingham has been awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education (2016-18) for its contribution to making railways around the world safer and more efficient.


Now in its seventh year, the Founders’ Awards for Excellence recognise the very best academic work at the University. They provide an opportunity to recognise our stellar academic colleagues and celebrate their achievements with our most distinguished friends from business, politics, government, and academia.

For more information, please contact Dominic Benson, Deputy Director of Communications, University of Birmingham, or tel: +44 (0) 121 414 5134, or contact the press office on +44 (0) 7789 921 165.

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.