Three Swansea University academics awarded prestigious Learned Society of Wales medals

Professor Tavi Murray, Dr Emily Shepard and Professor Roger Owen of Swansea University have each been awarded Learned Society of Wales medals in recognition of their outstanding contributions to scientific research.

The medals, all named in honour of significant figures from Wales’ history, recognise excellence and celebrate Wales’s legacy of achievement. They were presented to the winners at a ceremony in the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama on Wednesday 22 May.

Learned Society medal winners‌Pictured left to right: Professor Tavi Murray, Dr Emily Shepard and Professor Roger Owen

Professor Tavi Murray, of the College of Science, is this year’s Frances Hoggan Medal recipient. The award recognises and celebrates the contribution of outstanding women connected with Wales in the areas of science, medicine, engineering, technology or mathematics.

A world-leading environmental scientist, Professor Murray works at the cutting-edge of glaciology and has blazed a trail in the innovative application of geophysics and remote sensing techniques in this field. She is an eminent interdisciplinary researcher and bridges physics, geography and computer science in her quest to provide improved constraints on glacial contributions to global sea-level rise.

On receiving the Frances Hoggan Medal, Professor Murray said: “I am really honoured and delighted to be awarded this medal by the Learned Society of Wales. My research is aimed at making better predictions of sea-level rise from the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, which is so important to our planet’s future. I hope to inspire more young scientists, especially girls and women, to work in science and on environmental issues and climate change.”

Dr Emily Shepard, Associate Professor in Biosciences, received a Dillwyn Medal in recognition of her outstanding early career research on bird flight and bird behavioural responses to the aerial environment. Dr Shepard is an interdisciplinary scientist, collaborating with aeronautical engineers, meteorologists, mathematicians, physicists, and physiologists.

On winning the award, Dr Shepard said: “I started working on flight in 2010 and Swansea University has provided critical support in enabling this research to get going and build momentum. It has been a joy to work within the Welsh academic sector and get hands on with some of the spectacular Welsh wildlife, and I am honoured to have the work recognised through this award.”

Professor Roger Owen, Research Professor of Engineering, was awarded the Menelaus Medal for his groundbreaking work in the simulation of problems in science and engineering using computational methods.

Professor Owen said: “Due to the international appeal of computational modelling, most of my research activities have involved universities and industrial organisations world-wide. Consequently, this Medal is one of the few awards that I have received from Wales but, given the esteem with which science and technology is held in the nation, it is one that ranks very highly in my lists of achievements.”

Reflecting on the medallists and their exceptional research, Sir Emyr Jones Parry, President of the Learned Society of Wales, commented: “It’s wonderful that we have this range of excellence which we are recognising with the award of these medals. It’s particularly encouraging that these include four very talented young researchers.”