NOC scientists announced as NERC Impact Awards finalists

The Hunga volcano eruption in 2022 triggered the fastest underwater flows ever recorded. The flows cut the only international subsea cable that connected to Tonga. Image credit: Taaniela Kula, Tonga Geological Services

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) recently announced that scientists from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) have been shortlisted as finalists and commended entries of NERC’s 2023 Impact Awards. The awards shine a spotlight on UK science at the heart of the responsible management of our planet. 

A team led by NOC’s Dr Mike Clare was nominated for transforming how we protect the vulnerable network of subsea cables. The team includes six UK universities and research organisations, and other industry and research partners from around the world. The cables carry 99% of the world’s data traffic including the internet, defence information, financial transactions and other services that underpin our daily lives.

The research is already being used in national risk assessments, potentially helping entire countries to avoid isolation and saving hundreds of millions of pounds.   

Real world impacts

The awards celebrate NERC-funded scientists, as individuals or teams, whose work has had a big impact on the economy or society in the UK or internationally.

The shortlist and judging were undertaken by independent panels of academic, industry and government figures and public engagement professionals.

Celebrating the science community

The chair of this year’s judging and shortlisting panels is Kathryn Monk, Chair of the international group, Collaboration for Environmental Evidence.

The judging panel will choose winners across the following award categories:

  • overall impact award winner
  • three thematic award winners (across economic, societal and environmental impact). At least one of these awards will recognise impact achieved through public engagement with research.  
  • one early career impact award winner

Supporting further research

The winners of each category will receive £12,000 and the runners-up £7,000 to further the impacts of their research.

The finalist judged to have had the biggest impact will be the Impact Awards overall winner and will receive £20,000.  

Winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Natural History Museum on 29 November 2023.

The event will bring together leaders and decision-makers from business, government and academia to recognise the diverse talent that is shaping our future. 

Recognising research talent  

Professor Peter Liss, Interim Executive Chair of NERC, said:  

“The Impact Awards provides us with the opportunity to recognise the thriving community of people working hard to reveal the state of the environment and how we can respond.   

“We received outstanding enthusiasm for this year’s competition. The impacts of all entries are far-reaching. I was impressed to see that the 10 shortlisted entries address some of today’s most pressing issues, such as rapid biodiversity loss, climate change and the impact of the environment on human health. I look forward to celebrating the contributions of our shortlisted teams and individual researchers at the final stage of the Impact Awards in November.”  

Find out more about the NERC Impact Awards 2023

The shortlisted NOC team included Dr Isobel Yeo, Dr Lucy Bricheno, Dr James Hunt, Dr Jennifer Brown, Dr Yevgeny Aksenov, Dr Christine Sams, Dr Brian Bett, Dr Gaye Bayrakci, Dr Veerle Huvenne.