Celebrating Welsh research talent

The medals of the Learned Society of Wales were awarded earlier this week at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff in a ceremony celebrating achievement in academia.

The national academy of Wales’ medals recognise outstanding contributions in research and scholarship, celebrating achievement for both the individuals honoured, and the academic sector of Wales, from universities to schools.

This year the Learned Society of Wales awarded four medals, all named in honour of significant figures from Wales’ distinguished history.

The medals were created to inspire and recognise the long, and often overlooked, legacy of Welsh achievement, while celebrating the exceptional researchers of today, which in turn will inspire researchers of the future.

Professor Lynne Boddy

The Frances Hoggan medal recognises the contribution of outstanding female researchers in STEMM, with a connection to Wales. This year the medal was awarded to Professor Lynne Boddy of Cardiff University, one of the foremost fungal ecologists in the world. Professor Boddy has pioneered the study of how fungal communities develop in wood and her ground-breaking work has revealed the key roles of fungi in forest ecosystems.

On receiving the award, Professor Boddy said: “As a fungal ecologist, I am well aware that the iconic fruit body – mushroom, bracket etc. – is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’, with a large network of fungal filaments actively working unseen. Similarly, though I have the great honour of being the recipient of this award, many talented women and men have performed the experiments and contributed ideas upon which our scientific discoveries and understanding of fungi is founded.”

Sir Emyr Jones Parry (left) and Dr Gwyn Bellamy

The Society’s Dillwyn medals are awarded in recognition of outstanding early career research in three different academic fields: STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine); Social Sciences, Education and Business; and the Creative Arts and Humanities.

The Dillwyn medal for STEMM was awarded to Dr Gwyn Bellamy, a senior lecturer at the Department of Mathematics, at the University of Glasgow. His research focuses on geometric representation theory, one of the fastest-moving fields in twentieth-century mathematics. At the core of Dr Bellamy’s is communicating research and mathematics, publishing in both English and Welsh. Dr Bellamy said “I am absolutely delighted, and honoured, to have been awarded the Dillwyn medal (STEMM). It is very gratifying to see that the Learned Society of Wales appreciates, and celebrates, the work done by early career researchers from Wales. In particular, in my case, I hope this will go a long way towards strengthening the ties between mathematicians in Wales and the broader mathematical community in Britain.”

Dr Dawn Mannay

Dr Dawn Mannay, Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences (Psychology), School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University was awarded the Dillwyn Medal for Social Sciences, Education and Business. Her research focuses on inequalities related to class, gender and education, and draws on creative and participatory methodologies. Dr Mannay said: “Given the history of the Dillwyn Medal and the reputation of the Learned Society of Wales, I was honoured to be nominated for and receive this award. It has been a wonderful opportunity for me to study and then teach in the Welsh context, and I hope to continue my research and work with students to ensure that Cardiff University produces new generations of graduates who can contribute to creating a more equal and improved social and economic landscape”

Dr Rhianedd Jewell

The recipient of the Dillwyn Medal for the Creative Arts and Humanities was Dr Rhianedd Jewell, Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol’s Lecturer in Professional Welsh, School of Welsh, Aberystwyth University. Dr Jewell is recognised for her research in the field of translation studies, especially literary translations from European languages into Welsh. Her current research considers professional translation, women’s literature, and the relationship between Welsh literature and Italy. Dr Jewell said: “I’m very honoured to receive the Dillwyn Medal for the Creative Arts and Humanities. I’m delighted that my research in translation studies has received such recognition from the Learned Society of Wales. I would particularly like to thank my colleagues and my family for their vital support at the start of my academic career.”

Sir Emyr Jones Parry, President of the Society commented “It’s wonderful to see such talent being recognised by the Learned Society. Many congratulations to the recipients of our medals”.