Social Sciences success at the 2024 Research Culture Awards

Colleagues from LSSI, the School of Education and POLIS among winners and runners up at this year’s Research Culture Awards.

Winners of the second instalment of the University’s highly coveted Research Culture Awards were honoured during a gala showcase held in Leeds University Union Refectory on 24 June 2024.

The 2024 Research Culture Awards recognise colleagues who embed our new Research Culture Strategy and other examples of good practice into their work. They celebrate the ways colleagues of all role types and career stages enhance our research culture through a variety of approaches.

Recipients of this year’s accolades include the Leeds Social Sciences Institute, Dr Paula Clarke (School of Education) and Dr Eike Rinke (School of Politics and International Studies).

The Faculty of Social Sciences extends its congratulations to the aforementioned teams and colleagues. A breakdown of their successes is given below:

Award for Unsung Heroes

This award recognises those colleagues who work tirelessly and effectively behind the scenes, without deserved appreciation. Such colleagues advance research, support their peers, and advance the smooth functioning of projects. The Unsung Heroes award highlights their achievements and their essential role in our research success.


Leeds Social Sciences Institute (LSSI)

Team members: Cheryl Harris, Alison Lundbeck, Natalie Jackson, Sherif Youssef, Elliot Payne and Sophie Rowan.

Receiving the Award for Unsung Heroes from Dr Mark Richards (far left) and Professor Cat Davies (far right) are (from left) Sophie Rowan, Cheryl Harris, Elliot Payne and Alison Lundbeck.

Receiving the Award for Unsung Heroes from Dr Mark Richards (far left) and Professor Cat Davies (far right) are (from left) Sophie Rowan, Cheryl Harris, Elliot Payne and Alison Lundbeck. Photo © Alex Beldea

Cross-faculty institutes do vital work for the University in supporting research. Some institutes are tightly themed and easy to narrate. The more genuinely cross-cutting and interdisciplinary institutes, however, represent diverse and disparate communities, which sometimes struggle with profile and visibility in the crowded University research space.

The professional services team works tirelessly and effectively behind the scenes to collectively enhance the research culture of the social sciences community at the University.

Cheryl Harris, LSSI manager, said:

It was a lovely surprise to receive the Unsung Heroes Award, and for the LSSI team to be recognised for their joint efforts involved in delivering the institute goals through a range of activities to engage with social science researchers across the University. 

Delivery of these activities isn’t always straightforward or visible to the University community, and to receive this award is a fantastic achievement.

Runner Up

Dr Paula Clarke (School of Education, Director of Research and Innovation)

Runner-up: Developing a ‘can do’ school research culture – being transformative, inclusive and supportive in research engagement 

Dr Paula Clarke stands in front of Hilary Place at the University of Leeds

Dr Paula Clarke

Developing a positive, inclusive and productive research culture in the School of Education at Leeds has seen its Director of Research and Innovation (DORI), Dr Paula Clarke, claim the runner-up spot in the Award for Unsung Heroes. 

Paula was nominated for valuing colleagues’ ideas and contributions within a clear expectations framework. Enhancing the school’s research performance was prioritised post-pandemic. Paula embraced the challenge by building research-oriented relationships from individuals’ starting points, patiently giving thorough feedback on proposals. 

Research is flourishing in the school as a result, leading to a wide range of grant applications and a significant increase in successful outcomes. 

Paula’s inclusive approach is also visibly active in her outstanding chairing of the Research Committee that promotes engagement and commitment, leading to research embedding increasingly strongly throughout the school.

Paula said:

I’m delighted to have been selected as runner-up in the Unsung Heroes category. 

I’m passionate about ensuring our everyday work environment is one that encourages and nurtures research ideas and opportunities. I’m very proud of the work we’re doing in the School of Education to promote an inclusive and vibrant research culture. I’m particularly excited to support research ideas as they grow into full projects, and to help build networks to encourage interdisciplinary and stakeholder collaboration. 

It’s lovely to have the work I’ve been doing recognised in this way, but really I see this as an award for the School of Education and the fantastic colleagues, researchers and students who make it such an inspiring place to be.

Award for Open Research Practices

This award recognises those who engender open research design, sharing and impact throughout the research cycle, enabling transparency, reproducibility, reach and the reduction of inequities. 


Dr Eike Mark Rinke (School of Politics and International Studies)

Photograph of Dr Eike Mark Rinke

Dr Eike Mark Rinke

As Local Network Lead for the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN), Dr Eike Mark Rinke has spearheaded initiatives to promote open research practices across the University. 

He created a reproducibility community in Leeds where previously there was none, and organises talks, workshops and policy development activities with communities across campus that enhance transparency, reproducibility and collaboration among Leeds researchers. 

By fostering an environment where open research is the norm, these efforts raise research integrity and collaborative spirit, aligning perfectly with the ‘Open Research Practices’ award category Eike has been recognised in. These initiatives not only improve our research practices but also strengthen our academic community’s commitment to ethical scientific enquiry. 

Notably, Eike has also liaised closely with the Library and other professional services to build on the support and training offered by these non-academic stakeholders, which are also integral to supporting open research practice.

Eike said:

I’m honoured and grateful to receive this award for my efforts to embed Open Research values and practices into our research culture at Leeds. 

This achievement is truly a collective effort, and I want to extend my thanks to the many wonderful colleagues who’ve joined in these endeavours. 

However, our work isn’t done. This recognition is motivation to continue building a campus research culture where Open Research is just a normal part of our daily research practices. Thank you to the Research Culture team, the awards jury and everyone contributing to making our research more transparent and inclusive.

Lead image photograph © Alex Beldea