NERC's inaugural Impact Awards recognised and rewarded the contribution of NERC science to the UK's economy, society, wellbeing and international reputation.
The response to the awards was outstanding, with 82 applications of an exceptional standard submitted across four categories of impact: economic, social, early-career and international.
A shortlisting panel, made up of experts from academia, business and the third sector, whittled them down to two finalists in each category, with the winners selected by an esteemed panel of judges. The results were announced at a prize-giving ceremony in London on 27 January 2015, kicking off our 50th anniversary.
The winner in each category received a prize of £10,000 to further the impact of their research, with the runners-up receiving £5,000. A further £30,000 was awarded to overall winners Professor John Pyle, Dr Neil Harris and colleagues at the University of Cambridge and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, for their work to demonstrate the effect of man-made gases on the ozone layer.
Recognising research that has achieved exceptional economic and/or societal impact outside the UK.
Healing the ozone hole to save our skin (Winner and overall winner)
Atmospheric research by Professor John Pyle, Dr Neil Harris and colleagues at the University of Cambridge and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science has played a leading role in demonstrating the effect of man-made gases on the ozone layer, and the consequences for human health. Their contributions played a key part in the strengthening of the Montreal Protocol, widely regarded as one of the most successful international agreements ever enacted. The protocol, along with other pieces of related legislation, has ensured the rapid phase-out of ozone depleting substances. As a result, the hole in the ozone now appears to be slowly closing, preventing a number of UV-related health problems worldwide, including skin cancer, sunburn and cataracts.