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HR Excellence in Research Award

The HR excellence award as operated by the European Commission is operated in the UK through VITAE. Full details of the award are available on the Vitae website. We currently hold the award, which was most recently renewed in April 2018. Durham University has held the HR Excellence in Research Award since 2011. It was awarded to recognise our continued implementation of the Concordat to support the Career Development of Researchers. 

Documents supporting our new application from 2022 are given below, with older documents from earlier awards further down the page.

HR Excellence 10 Year Review 2022-25

HR Excellence 8 Year Review 2020-22

Durham University Research Staff Awards 2020

At Durham, our academic colleagues are at the heart of delivering excellent teaching and world-leading research that makes a difference beyond the university.

We’ve been awarded our eight-year HR Excellence in Research award, which recognises how we enhance good working conditions for our researchers.

Since receiving the status in 2011, we’ve been working hard to improve areas such as promotion, career development, training, staff networks, and diversity and equality.

Over the next couple of years, we’re committed to increasing the uptake of training by research staff, and ensuring that a range of personal and professional support can be accessed.

In what was a challenging year, we celebrated our outstanding researchers with our Durham University Research Staff Awards 2020, which recognised the best research impact, delivering excellence in research and the most supportive principal investigator.

Find out more about the winners and their research below:

Dr Henry Miller – Department of History

Delivering Excellence in Research Award

Dr Miller’s current research looks at petitioning in 20th century Britain, a period that saw people signing petitions on a diverse range of issues, from caning in the classroom through to banning nuclear weapons.

Despite the popularity of petitioning, historians and social scientists have typically focused on elections as the primary form of political participation, missing the ways in which petitioners initiated personal protests to councillors, parliamentarians, monarchs, and almost every other imaginable figure of authority.

Henry’s project brings together experts in the history of petitioning, in political studies of public engagement, and in 20th century British society to investigate petitioning as an activity and an institution.

The project aims to contribute to the development of petitioning systems in 21st century Britain by uncovering when in the past elected representatives have reacted to the claims of petitioners, the views of the petitioner, and how campaigners have used petitions to recruit supporters.

Dr Qian Wang – previously Department of Computer Science

Excellence in Delivering Research Impact

Computer scientist Dr Qian Wang was recognised for his research which played a key role in air passenger safety.

The 3D threat image projection (TIP) is an algorithm that automatically inserts “fake” threat items into otherwise benign passenger baggage scans in order to monitor screening operator performance, similar to photoshopping objects into a 3D image.

In collaboration with security equipment company, Rapiscan, Qian’s research resulted in the installation of the operational TIP system for scanners deployed at Copenhagen and Palma de Mallorca, which have a combined footfall of around 60 million passengers each year.

Dr Paul McGonigal – Department of Chemistry

Most Supportive Principal Investigator Award

McGonigal group’s research deals with the rather unusual phenomenon of ‘shapeshifting’ structure in organic molecules. Most synthetic materials we make and use, whether it’s a drug, a plastic, or a dye, are based on molecular components with fixed structures.

Although they can bend and twist to some extent, the atoms are held together in fixed arrangements. By learning how to design and control shapeshifting molecules, we may uncover materials that adapt their structures to their environments. Some of our recent research has examined how such shapeshifting molecules adapt when they assemble to form crystals.

At the moment, although we can speculate about some of the areas where shapeshifting molecules could be applied (for example, adapting their structures to match an enzyme active site to aid in drug discovery), we are only just beginning to understand their potential.

With more time, we will be able to apply our knowledge of how shapeshifting molecules adapt in crystals to understanding how the molecules respond in more complex, messy environments (such as inside a biological cell), that are more likely to be encountered in real life.

Archive of Previous Submissions

HR Excellence 6 Year Review

HR Excellence 4 Year Review

HR Excellence 2 Year Review