In 2010 Professor Andre Geim and his protégé Professor Konstantin Novoselov won the Nobel Prize in physics for their discovery of the ‘wonder material’ twodimensional graphine. Their achievement means that the University of Manchester now boasts more Nobel Laureates on its current academic staff than any other UK institution. At four, we have now accomplished the target set by the previous Vice Chancellor, historian Alan Gilbert, five years earlier than he predicted.
Amongst Geim and Novoselov’s contemporaries is Joseph Stiglitz who obtained the prize for economics in 2001 and currently heads the Brooks World Poverty Institute (BWPI) at the University. He is also an incredibly popular guest lecturer in the politics of globalization and the international political economy. Stiglitz joins John Hicks and Sir Arthur Lewis as laureates in this category in the past forty years, placing Manchester at the forefront of current economic research.
Despite a solid reputation in the area, Sir John Sulston, the Chair of the newly founded Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation is only our second winner in the area of physiology and medicine. His prize in 2002 for ‘genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death’ followed on from the work of Archibald Vivian Hill in 1922; specifically his discoveries on the production of heat in muscle. Since its establishment of the Nobel Prize in 1901, academics from UoM have claimed twenty-five prizes between them, predominantly in the areas of chemistry and physics. In chemistry winners include Earnest Rutherford in 1908, the ‘father’ of nuclear physics who worked on splitting the atom here in Manchester in the early twentieth century.
More recently, he is succeeded by Michael Smith for his contributions to protein studies in 1993. Sir James Chadwick, whose discovery of the neutron particle earned him the prize in physics in 1935, is also amongst ten winners in his category, a tradition continued by Geim and Novoselov. Manchester’s history of academic excellence spans a range of subjects including many not recognised within the Nobel Prize categories. Humanities can claim Ludwig Wittgenstein, considered one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century, and Academy Award winner Robert Bolt amongst its associates. With the largest number of full time students in the UK, there is immense potential within our university to add to this impressive legacy. For anyone hoping to become the next ‘Manchester first’, the category of Nobel Peace Prize is still up for grabs!