Somervillians win prestigious Maths award

Somerville College fellow Dr Nicolai Meinshausen and Junior Research Fellow Dr Radek Erban have been awarded Philip Leverhulme Prizes for their work in mathematics and statistics.

The prizes, with a value of £70,000 each, are awarded “to outstanding scholars who have made a substantial and recognised contribution to their particular field of study”, with an expectation that “their greatest achievement is yet to come”.

Only five prizes in the mathematics and statistics category are awarded every two years, and Somerville Principal Alice Prochaska said that: “these are highly significant awards, and very well deserved.” The winners have two to three years to make use of their prize money, which is intended to help advance their research in any way, “with the exception of enhancing the Prize holder’s salary”.

Dr Meinshausen, who studied in Zurich and Berkeley before coming to Oxford, said: “I felt honoured, of course, to receive the reward” and thanked the collaborators without whom “my research would not have been possible”. His work on statistical learning techniques has applications in astronomy, life sciences and climate dynamics, and he is considering using the prize money to organize a workshop on the analysis of statistical issues in climate science.

Meanwhile Dr Erban, who in 2009 also received a prestigious European Research Council Starting Independent Researcher Grant of €625,000, plans to use the money to support the work of his research team, which includes eight DPhil students and four postdoctoral research assistants. Their work in applied mathematics is focused on mathematical and computational methods for biological, chemical and physical problems. He said: “I am glad to receive this prize”.