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Prestigious research grants worth half a million pounds awarded to university

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Professor James Harris, Dr Jonathan Fraser, Professor Julie Harris

World-leading academics from the University of St Andrews have been awarded research funding worth a total of almost half a million pounds from the prestigious Leverhulme Trust and British Academy.

Professor James Harris, Head of Philosophy in the School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies, has been awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship grant worth £56,000 for his research on the history of philosophy. His research Philosophy, philosophizing, and the philosopher in 18th-century Britain will examine the role that philosophers played in the intellectual culture of the period between the revolutions of 1688 and 1789. Two distinctive features of 18th-century British philosophy are explored in detail: philosophy’s move out of the academy and into the wider public sphere, and the lack of a principled distinction between philosophy and natural science.

The British Academy/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship is a prestigious award, with a success rate for applications of under 12%.

Professor Julie Harris, from the School of Psychology and Neuroscience, has been awarded over £180,000 by the Leverhulme Trust for research which will focus on understanding what makes features specifically salient in complex visual environments.

Professor Harris said: “When navigating the world our visual system is bombarded with a torrent of visual information. To cope with this wealth of input, our brain must select specific information. Some objects have distinctive properties that make them grab our attention, such as a ladybird on the lawn. These objects are highly salient, but we still don’t fully know why. Our work is based on the principle that the underlying process that delivers perceptual salience is maximal stimulation of neurons in the visual system.”

Dr Jonathan Fraser, from the School of Mathematics and Statistics, has been awarded more than £320,000 to conduct research over a 42-month period on fractals. His research, New perspectives in the dimension theory of fractals, will focus on the study and development of two new concepts in the dimension theory of fractals: the Assouad spectrum and the intermediate dimensions.  The project will develop a robust theory of ‘dimension interpolation’ and seek new applications in embedding theory, arithmetic geometry, and dynamics.

The Leverhulme Trust was established by the Will of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers. Since 1925 the Trust has provided grants and scholarships for research and education.

Today, it is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing approximately £80m a year.


Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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