Professor Jim Al-Khalili to present the NERC Impact Awards

28 November 2014

Professor Jim Al-KahliliEminent physicist, author and broadcaster Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE will be hosting the inaugural NERC impact awards prize-giving ceremony.

Al-Khalili is professor of theoretical physics and chair of public engagement in science at the University of Surrey. A highly respected academic, Al-Khalili has presented widely on TV and radio, including the BAFTA-nominated 'Chemistry: A Volatile History' for the BBC.

His passion for making science more accessible and interesting to the public, together with his deep understanding of science's value to society, means Al-Khalili is ideally placed to host the event.

The impact awards are an important and prestigious recognition of scientists' work across a range of fields, recognising the breadth of the contribution of NERC science to our economy, our society, our wellbeing, and our international standing.

The prize-giving ceremony will be held in London on 27 January 2015, kicking off NERC's 50th anniversary year.

Professor Al-Khalili said:

We scientists study the world around us because we are curious, but when this research also has a beneficial impact on wider society and our quality of life on this beautiful planet of ours then that is to be truly celebrated - and the fifty-year anniversary of NERC is the perfect occasion for this.

NERC Impact Awards logoA programme of events to mark the 50th anniversary will demonstrate how NERC science has contributed to the UK over the past 50 years - and how we're helping tackle some of the big questions for us and the Earth for the next 50.

In particular, it will demonstrate the vital role NERC science plays in meeting the major 21st century challenge of placing environmental science at the heart of responsible management of our planet.

Further information

NERC media office
01793 411939
07785 459139


1. NERC is the largest funder of environmental science in the UK. We invest £330 million in cutting-edge research, training and knowledge transfer in the environmental sciences. Our scientists study and monitor the whole planet, from pole to pole, and from the deep Earth and oceans to the edge of space. We address and respond to critical issues such as environmental hazards, resource security and environmental change. Through collaboration with other science disciplines, with UK business and with policymakers, we make sure our knowledge and skills support sustainable economic growth and public wellbeing - reducing risks to health, infrastructure, supply chains and our changing environment.

2. Jim Al-Khalili received his PhD in theoretical nuclear physics from Surrey in 1989 before working as an SERC Postdoctoral Fellow at UCL. He returned to Surrey and was awarded a five year EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship in 1994 before being appointed as a permanent member of staff in 1999 and a full professor in 2005. He has written a number of popular science books, between them translated into over twenty languages. His latest is 'Life on the Edge: the coming of age of quantum biology'.

He is also a regular presenter of TV science documentaries, including the BAFTA-nominated 'Chemistry: A Volatile History' and 'Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity', both for the BBC. For the past three years he has presented the highly successful weekly BBC Radio 4 programme 'The Life Scientific'. Jim is also active in public life and a strong advocate for rationalism and secularism and is the president of the British Humanist Association. He is a recipient of the Royal Society Michael Faraday medal and the Institute of Physics Kelvin medal and has several honorary degrees. He received an OBE in 2007 for "services to science".

Press release: 32/14