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RGS-IBG awards 2024

Prestigious awards given to two Newcastle academics

Published on: 7 May 2024

Two Newcastle University experts have been awarded prestigious honours by the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG).

Dr Kean Fan Lim, a senior lecturer in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, has been awarded the Gill Memorial Award 2024 for exceptional early career research.

Dr Lim was nominated for his research on the rationale and effects of urban and regional development. The award recognises his contribution to advancing geographical research through original research agendas and case studies on financial, housing and infrastructural policy experimentation in city-regions.

The Gill Memorial Award is given for outstanding geographical research by an academic who has shown great potential. First presented in the early 1880s, the award recognises exemplary research performance with a remarkable track record of achievement in the first 10 years following a PhD award, and the recipient is selected from an international pool of nominees.

Dr Lim said: “This award is glowing recognition of the unwavering support that I received from my family, collaborators, mentors and colleagues during my research journey over the past decade. They shared in my excitement when I discovered new ideas and lifted me when I encountered the inevitable obstacles. Above all, they believed in my commitment to advancing knowledge in geographical political economy and economic geography through innovative case studies. This collective support has enabled me to produce research that I am extremely proud of. Thank you to the RGS-IBG for conferring on me this award – I am immensely grateful and honoured.”

The award extends Dr Lim’s track record of high-profile international recognition over the past decade: in 2019 the Regional Studies Association (RSA) conferred on him the RSA-Routledge Early Career Award for research achievements between 2014 – 2019, and in 2022 he was awarded an Early Career Award for “research excellence in economic geography” by the International Geographical Union.  

Dr Kean Fan Lim, recipient of the RGS with IBG Gill Memorial Award 2024

Also recognised this year through the Back Award is Professor Peter Hopkins for sustained and outstanding contributions to policy development through research. Professor Hopkins has been successfully influencing policy and practice from his research with unrelenting passion and commitment for more than two decades.

His work has shaped societal discourses and practices and has made sustained, outstanding contributions to policy development at local, regional, and national levels. This has included him being involved in inquiries and select committees in Scottish and UK Parliaments, and the House of Lords. Also, through the Royal Geographical Society and Academy of Social Science, he advocates for minoritised geographers and he mentors, inspires, and supports countless others.

Professor Hopkins also helped establish a new Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia with Anas Sarwar MSP, which was the largest and most active in the Scottish Parliament. Through this group, he led the first ever public inquiry into Islamophobia in Scotland which produced over 50 recommendations for policy change.

Professor Hopkins’ contributions to excellence in policy development in Scotland were recognised earlier this year when he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Professor Hopkins said: “I am delighted and honoured to be receive the Back Award for my work to develop policy in practice in relation to countering Islamophobia and promoting anti-racism. Credit is also due to those who I have had the pleasure in collaborating with over the last twenty years for their insights into tackling Islamophobia.”

Each year the RGS with IBG awards recognises 25 different people or organisations for their outstanding contributions to geographical research, fieldwork, teaching, and public engagement and honour those who have made significant achievements in the discipline.

Professor Nigel Harkness, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Humanities and Social Sciences, said: “Congratulations to Kean and Peter on these prestigious awards. Their impressive achievements, which these prestigious awards recognise, underline the breadth and excellence of geography research at Newcastle.”

Dr Lim and Professor Hopkins join a prestigious list of RGS-IBG award recipients that includes Sir Alexander Burnes, Freya Stark, Alfred Russel Wallace, Captain R. Scott and more recently Professor Heather Viles, Professor Yadvinder Malhi, Dr Sylvia Earle, Professor Diana Liverman, Sir Crispin Tickell and Sir David Attenborough.

The medals and awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Society in London on Monday 3 June.

Professor Peter Hopkins has been awarded the RGS with IBG Back Award

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