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Piers Sellers Prize 2022: winners announced

Centre news

A researcher accelerating climate-resilient change for inclusive development has been named as the winner of the 2022 Piers Sellers Prize.

Professor Joyeeta Gupta, whose work focuses on the influence of changing geopolitics and climate governance patterns, will receive the prize for world leading contribution to solution focused climate research at a virtual event in July. This event will also see the presentation of the Piers Sellers Prize for exceptional PhD research.

The award is bestowed annually in the name of Piers Sellers, the former astronaut, climate scientist and Leeds alumnus, by the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds.

The prize recognises Professor Gupta as a world leader in interdisciplinary climate research. Her many publications and extensive engagement in global climate and environmental commissions and assessments demonstrate her commitment to delivering robust and impactful climate solutions.

Her work focuses on the need to phase out fossil fuels in an equitable manner. In particular, she is developing tools to help different stakeholders move towards a climate-resilient and inclusive future.

On learning of her win, Professor Gupta said: “I am deeply honoured. As a social science and legal scholar, I engage in analysing wicked, unstructured problems and in showcasing intractable problems and possible equitable solutions.

“However, a prize such as this one shows that my arguments are moving from the margins to the mainstream.”

A prize giving event in July will feature a keynote lecture from Professor Gupta on climate change, fossil fuels and justice. The lecture will focus on the multi-dimensional aspects of justice in relation to the challenge of leaving fossil fuels underground.

Professor Gupta is Faculty Sustainability Professor and Professor of Environment and Development in the Global South at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research of the University of Amsterdam and IHE Delft Institute for Water Education.

She was a Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-chair of UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook-6, and is presently co-chair of the Earth Commission. She was recently awarded the European Research Council’s Advanced Grant on Climate Change and Fossil Fuel.

The prize giving event, scheduled for 11:00 – 12:15 on Thursday 7 July, will take place online. You can register to attend using this link.

PhD Prize

This year, two postgraduate researchers at the University of Leeds have been named winners of the Piers Sellers prize for exceptional PhD research.

The 2022 recipients are Adele Dixon from the School of Biology and Angus Naylor from the School of Earth and Environment.

Both prize winners will deliver presentations at the event on Thursday 7 July.

Adele Dixon

Adele Dixon’s research assesses coral reef vulnerability to climate change to inform conservation goals.

She was nominated for the Piers Sellers PhD prize by her supervisors Dr Maria Beger from the School of Biology, and Professor Piers Forster from the School of Earth and Environment.

For her doctoral research, Dixon used high resolution satellite data and the latest climate models to develop a novel thermal stress dataset for the global coral reef area.

In a recent paper, Dixon outlined that more than 90% of tropical shallow water coral reefs will suffer frequent heat stress even under Paris Agreement climate warming limits. As well as garnering much media interest, this research is informing new international conservation initiatives.

Dr Beger said: “Adele’s work is truly cutting edge on multiple interdisciplinary fronts. Importantly, she is committed to impact, ensuring her data is available for further efforts to protect coral reefs from climate change.”

Angus Naylor

Angus Naylor’s research aims to understand climate change risks for Arctic Indigenous communities. His doctoral research involved collaboration with the hamlet of Ulukhaktok – a community in Inuit Nunangat (Arctic Canada).

He was nominated for the Piers Sellers PhD prize by his supervisor Professor James Ford from the School of Earth and Environment.

Over 3 years, Naylor worked with 10 Inuit hunters, documenting their land use and harvesting activities. As a result, he has been able to demonstrate how climate change is affecting food security, and how Inuit communities are responding to the challenge.

His work is being used to inform local decision-making about climate adaptation planning and capacity building.

Professor Ford remarked: “Angus’ work on climate vulnerability is leading the field. The strength of his collaborative approach has enabled him to conduct important and impactful work despite extremely challenging circumstances.”

Former winners of the Piers Sellers Prize are Dr Katharine Mach (2020), Professor Petra Tschakert (2019), Professor Mark New (2018), Professor Felix Creutzig (2017) and Dr Joeri Rogelj (2016). The PhD prize has been awarded to Oliver Grasham and Harriet Thew (2020), Tom Slater (2019), Kate Palmer and Jesus Vergara Temprado (2018), Ross Gillard (2017) and Kate Scott (2016).