Two high-flying Oxford researchers win prestigious £100k Philip Leverhulme prizes

Two young professors at the University of Oxford have today been awarded £100k Philip Leverhulme prizes, for early career researchers whose work has already had an ‘international impact’ and whose future research career is ‘exceptionally promising’.

Professor Jeremias Adams-Prassl, from Oxford’s Law faculty, and Theologian Professor Laura Quick, have been honoured for their work at either end of the academic spectrum: the legal implications of artificial intelligence and the study of the Hebrew Bible, respectively.

Talking about the award, Professor Adams-Prassl says, ‘I’m incredibly grateful and excited – the Leverhulme Prize will support inter-disciplinary research on the global rise of algorithmic management, not least by bringing together early career researchers from across the world.’

Professor Laura Quick says, ‘I am thrilled to receive this award, which will allow me to begin a new project on the concepts of beauty and aesthetics in the Hebrew Bible.’

On behalf of the university, Patrick Grant, Oxford’s pro-Vice Chancellor for research, says, ‘Many congratulations to Jeremias and Laura for this very significant recognition of their work. The Philip Leverhulme prizes highlight and reward the research of early career academics and Jeremias and Laura have each already made substantial and impactful contributions to research. These prizes will enable them to push their work forward.’

Professor Adams-Prassl’s research is at the cutting edge of 21st century technology – looking at the implications of artificial intelligence and algorithms for employment law. The prize will help fund research on how employment law can respond to a world in which automation has not replaced workers—but their bosses.

Dr Adams-Prassl maintains, ‘I hope to provide the first systematic account of the legal challenges brought about by algorithmic management in workplaces…

‘Both the theoretical foundations of employment law and its practical operation across different jurisdictions, depend on understanding and regulating the radically different organisation of the workplace of tomorrow…I hope to develop a new and positive role for employment law in ensuring algorithmic accountability and shaping the responsible use of technology at work.’

Professor Dame Sarah Whatmore, the head of the social sciences division, adds, ‘I am delighted that Jeremias Adams-Prassl has been awarded this prestigious prize as an acknowledgement of his talent and potential. His work on the future of labour markets is a vital area of social sciences research with the potential to have wide-ranging policy impacts.’

Meanwhile, Professor Quick’s ground-breaking work brings fresh research to ancient text. She says, ‘Beauty is an important conceptual category which animates and informs biblical literature, yet scholars have failed to interrogate the concept beyond inherited theological frameworks. As a result, the unique perspective of the Hebrew Bible has been neglected, and the field of biblical studies has been disengaged from larger humanistic inquiry into beauty and aesthetics.

‘My research will interrogate the aesthetic attitudes of biblical literature, opening up hitherto unexplored perspectives on the social, intellectual, and cultural world which shaped the Hebrew Bible. By connecting the Hebrew Bible to the history of aesthetics, I hope to shed new light onto both disciplines.’

Professor Karen O’Brien, head of humanities, says, ‘Laura’s work is characterised by a bold pursuit of large themes, backed by traditional historical-critical and exegetical techniques. In only her second year in post, she has already written on curses, dresses, the body, and beauty in a way that combines philological rigour with a real concern for the wider humanities. She is one of our most promising young scholars.’

And Dr Bill Wood, Chair of Faculty Board for Theology & Religion, adds, ‘I was thrilled when Laura Quick re-joined the Faculty of Theology and Religion last year. Laura is an unusually creative and productive scholar, having already written two major monographs and some 20 academic essays. Her new project on beauty and aesthetics in biblical literature is sure to have significant implications for understanding both the Bible and the history of aesthetics.’