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Search for Earth-like planets wins Guardian ‘Research Impact’ award, sponsored by Emerald

Research announcing discovery of nearest potentially habitable planet wins Guardian University Awards ‘Research Impact’ category

A research project that captured the public’s imagination by announcing the discovery of the nearest potentially habitable planet to Earth has won the Guardian University Awards 2017 ‘Research Impact’ category, sponsored by Emerald Publishing.

Pale Red Dot involved a team of 30 scientists from eight countries and detailed the discovery of an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone orbiting the closest star to our Sun, Proxima Centauri.

Led by Dr Guillem Anglada-Escude from Queen Mary University of London’s (QMUL) School of Physics and Astronomy, Pale Red Dot suggested the planet - named Proxima b - may be the closest possible home for life outside the Solar System.

Pale Red Dot saw off stiff competition in the form of two social science research projects: Unravelling the Mediterranean Migration Crisis (MEDMIG), led by Coventry University, which shed light on the dynamics of Europe's ongoing migration crisis; and the Homeless Monitor led by Heriot-Watt University, which has played a key role in shaping the UK’s Homeless Reduction Bill currently under consideration by the House of Lords, and which has also been adopted in Australia.

‘Research Impact’ and the bridging of the gap between research theory and practice are hugely important to social sciences publisher, Emerald Publishing. 

Tony Roche, Publishing Director at Emerald Publishing, said: “The standard of the shortlisted entries for this year’s Guardian Awards ‘Research Impact’ category were incredibly high. The entries applied tremendous academic rigour and originality to issues ranging from the highly topical, pressing crises we see in the news everyday - like homelessness and mass migration - to the discovery of Earth-like planets that could potentially host life.

“While the homelessness and migration crisis projects, respectively, might easily have won the Award in another year, they were up against a project, in Pale Red Dot, that demonstrated multiple layers of impact; from its methodology and innovative multidisciplinary approach to its fantastic engagement of the public - which was enthralled by the project.

“As judges, we were deeply impressed not only by the quality of the work and the way the project aligned with QMUL’s strategic commitment to impactful research, but also the originality and creativity behind the multichannel public outreach campaign, which garnered enormous international press coverage and traction across social media.”

Emerald Publishing was founded to champion new ideas and bring research to life, nurturing fresh thinking in applied fields. As a publisher that communicates scholarly research, Emerald plays an important role in ensuring that wider stakeholders and communities benefit from the work of academic authors. 

Emerald has a broad view of impact and encourages research that supports teaching, contributes to the body of knowledge, influences public bodies and policymakers, positively impacts on the environment, contributes to economic development and that, ultimately, benefits society, hence Emerald’s pride in sponsoring the ‘Research Impact’ category at this year’s prestigious Guardian University Awards.

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About Emerald Publishing:
Research impact has been at the heart of Emerald for over 50 years. Our core ethos is making a difference through research by connecting academia and practice, and publishing research which helps drive real change. We publish over 300 journals, more than 3000 books and over 1,500 case studies and offer a choice of publication routes, including open access, ensuring content is available beyond academia.


Rory ffoulkes
PR Manager
Emerald Publishing
Phone: +44 (0) 1274 777700