David Price (British academic)
Geoffrey David Price FGS (born 12 January 1956) has been Vice-Provost (Research) of UCL (University College London) since 2007 and Professor of Mineral Physics in the UCL Department of Earth Sciences since 1991.
Price is responsible for promoting, supporting and facilitating UCL research, including securing the highest-quality research outputs across UCL, and leading the development and implementation of the UCL Research Strategy.
As a scientist, Price was one of the first to establish the now major field of computational mineral physics, and has published more than 220 research papers.
- 1 Education and early career
- 2 As UCL Vice-Provost (Research)
- 3 Other current appointments
- 4 Honours
- 5 Previous UCL appointments
- 6 Other previous appointments
- 7 Price's implementation of the UCL Research Strategy
- 8 Research policy
- 9 References
Education and early career
Price is the son of the geologist Neville J. Price.
In 1974, prior to going to university, Price was an Assistant Scientific Officer at the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, UK, researching dispersive Fourier transform spectroscopy. At the University of Cambridge, Price read Natural Sciences and graduated with a 1st Class Honours Bachelor of Arts from Clare College in 1977.
From 1977 to 1980, he was a Natural Environment Research Council Research Student at the University of Cambridge, and received a PhD in 1981; his doctoral thesis was entitled Aspects of Transformation Behaviour in Olivine, Pyroxenes and Titanomagnetites. From 1980 to 1981, Price was a Fulbright-Hayes Scholar and Research Associate at the University of Chicago’s Department of the Geophysical Sciences, and, from 1981 to 1983, a Research Fellow at Clare College, University of Cambridge and Natural Environment Research Council Research Fellow, University of Cambridge Department of Earth Sciences.
In 1983, Price became a Royal Society University Research Fellow at UCL, where he has since held a variety of academic and management positions. He discovered the mineral wadsleyite, which is believed to make up part of the transition zone of the Earth’s mantle, from a depth of 400 km to 550 km.
As UCL Vice-Provost (Research)
UCL, which describes itself as “London’s Global University” and “London’s Research Powerhouse”, has more than 4,000 research staff across a breadth of academic disciplines. In the most recent (2008) Research Assessment Exercise, for 43 of 49 submissions at least 50% of UCL's quality profile was either 4* ("of world-leading quality”) or 3* ("internationally excellent"), placing it third overall in the UK after Oxford and Cambridge. Income from research grants and contracts, at £275.1 million, is the largest component of UCL's income.
As UCL Vice-Provost (Research), Price is responsible to the UCL President and Provost for: promoting, supporting and facilitating UCL’s research performance; leading the implementation of UCL’s research strategy; leading UCL’s preparation for future research assessment exercises; and the implementation of full economic costing for research and subsequently teaching. He is also responsible for:
- leading the implementation and development of UCL Grand Challenges, including their implications for impact and public policy
- external representation on research issues
- the implementation of full economic costing for research and subsequently teaching
- working with the UCL Vice-Provost (Enterprise) on industrial partnerships
- working with the UCL Vice-Provost (Health) on research links with UCL’s partner hospitals and other medical and health partners
- working with the UCL Vice-Provost (International) on integrating research with UCL’s international strategy.
Upon appointment in 2007, Price said: “UCL is a world-class centre for research, and it is my aim to help develop an environment in which the research community here can grow and achieve still greater levels of excellence. UCL has global expertise across the entire spectrum of academia, and researchers here are uniquely placed to provide solutions to major international problems, such as global health, the development of the urban environment and intercultural understanding. I hope to enable the study of such interdisciplinary problems, which consequently will allow UCL to continue to make a global and national contribution to scholarship and to provide solutions to real-world issues.”
Other current appointments
- Chair, UK HEFCE Research Excellence Framework 2014 Sub-Panel UoA 7: Earth & Environmental Sciences
- Chair of Governors, UCL Academy School, Camden
- Member, Elsevier Academic Executive Advisory Board
- Co-Convenor, Committee of ‘Vice-Rectors’ of Research, League of European Research Universities.
Price has been elected to:
- Fellowship, American Geophysical Union (2005)
- Membership, Academia Europaea (2000)
- Fellowship, Mineralogical Society of America (1997), in recognition of significant contributions to the fields of mineralogy, petrology and crystallography
- Fellowship, Geological Society of London (1994)
- President, Mineralogical Society of Great Britain & Ireland (2004–2006).
Price’s other honors and awards include:
- Louis Néel Medal, European Geosciences Union (2006), for “establishing the importance of computational mineral physics in Earth sciences and for outstanding contributions to the physics of the Earth's core"
- Named one of the Top 10 British Geologists (2003)
- Murchison Medal, Geological Society of London (2002)
- Schlumberger Medal, Mineralogical Society of Great Britain & Ireland (1999)
- MacRoberts Lecturer, the Royal Institution (1990).
Previous UCL appointments
- Executive Dean, UCL Faculty of Mathematical & Physical Sciences (2006–2007)
- Head, UCL Department of Earth Sciences, and Director, UCL/Birkbeck Research School of Earth Sciences (2004–2005)
- Vice-Dean (Research), UCL Faculty of Mathematical & Physical Sciences (2003–2006)
- Member, UCL Council (2003–2006)
- Head, UCL Department of Geological Sciences, and Director, UCL/Birkbeck Research School of Geological & Geophysical Sciences (1992–2002)
- Co-Convenor, Steering Committee, UCL Centre for Materials Research (1989–1993)
- University of London Reader in Mineral Physics, tenable jointly at UCL and Birkbeck College (1987–1990)
- Royal Society University Research Fellow, UCL Department of Geological Sciences (1983–1987).
Other previous appointments
- Member of Council and Trustee, the Royal Institution (2010–2011)
- Visiting Research Fellow, Natural History Museum, London (1990–1997)
- Assessor, Crafoord Prize Nomination Committee, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (2009)
- Scientific Consultant, BBC five-part series Earth: The Power of the Planet (2006–2007)
- Member, UK Research Assessment Exercise Sub-Panel 17 for Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences (2005–2008)
- Editor, Earth & Planetary Science Letters (2005–2007)
- Member, Governing Body, and Chair, Curriculum Committee, La Sainte Union Secondary School, Highgate, London (2003–2009)
- Member, HECToR Science Board, Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (2003–2007)
- Member, Davy Faraday Research Laboratory Committee, the Royal Institution (2003–2007)
- Member, High Performance Computing Strategy Board, UK Research Councils (2001–2008)
- Member, ISIS Facility Access Panel, UK Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (2000–2003)
- Associate Editor, Journal of Geophysical Research – Solid Earth (1999–2004)
- Secretary, Commission on the Physics and Chemistry of Minerals, International Mineralogical Association (1998–2002)
- Member, Advisory Board, Physics & Chemistry of Minerals (1996–)
- Member, Review Group for the Geophysical Laboratory, Washington DC (1996)
- Chair, Medals Committee, European Mineralogical Union (1995–2001)
- Member, Geological Sciences Research Grants & Training Awards Committee (1989–1992), Member, Earth Science & Technology Board (1994–1997), and Member, Peer Review College (2005–2007), UK Natural Environment Research Council
- Member, Editorial Board, Physics of the Earth & Planetary Interiors (1992–)
- Vice-President, European Mineralogical Union (1992–1996)
- Chair, Commission on the Physics & Chemistry of Minerals, International Mineralogical Association (1986–1990)
- Member, Council, Mineralogical Society of Great Britain & Ireland (1985–1986).
Price's implementation of the UCL Research Strategy
Price devised and introduced the first-ever UCL research strategy, Maximizing Impact and Influence Globally, in 2008. It stated: “[I]n the recent past, universities have not been seen major forces for social change. UCL’s new research strategy will help realise the radical vision of its founders, who, following [Jeremy] Bentham, believed that education, and hence universities, were the key to reform. … With its unique strengths and position, UCL has an opportunity and an obligation to develop and disseminate original knowledge to help provide solutions to the grand challenges faced by the world today and tomorrow.”
The strategy's basis was that the collective expertise of the whole of UCL is greater than the sum of its subject-specific parts. By collaborating across disciplines, therefore, the university could address major problems most effectively.
A culture of wisdom
Refined and expanded by Price in 2011, the UCL Research Strategy advocates the delivery of a culture of wisdom: “The world’s major problems (for example, in the economic, environmental, health and cultural spheres) are complex, systemic, interconnected and urgent to an unprecedented degree. Wisdom – here defined as the judicious application of knowledge for the good of humanity – is the key to providing solutions to aspects of these global problems. It can arise through bringing together different expert perspectives to address issues in their full complexity. Delivering a culture of wisdom, therefore, means drawing on the full range of our expertise. It requires a spirit of collaboration and a recognition that the contribution of which each of us is capable can be vastly greater when made in concert.”
Times Higher Education described Price as asserting that "since the Thatcher era, universities had adopted the prevailing political view of them as "the engines of the knowledge economy", leading them to neglect wisdom, which he defined as "the judicious application of knowledge for the good of humanity". He cited the huge increase in maize prices prompted by the staple food crop's use as a source of biofuel as a "classic case of the application of very clever knowledge without developing a wise way of introducing it". The problem, he said, was that few universities possessed the breadth of top researchers necessary to generate wisdom, which required the "synthesising and contrasting of the knowledge, perspectives and methodologies of different disciplines"."
The cores aims of the UCL Research Strategy are: fostering leadership founded in excellence; cross-disciplinarity grounded in expertise; and realising the impact of a global university.
Beyond demonstrable research excellence and effective dissemination of research results, the UCL Research Strategy called for established researchers to demonstrate sustained leadership: in their subject, for example by developing novel lines of enquiry; by contributing to the intellectual life of their discipline; cultivating collegiallity in their department, faculty and university; and supporting and nurturing early career researchers and research students.
The Times Higher Education article noted: "Another key concept in the research strategy is "leadership", which Professor Price distinguished from excellence on the grounds that it was active rather than passive. As well as being eminent researchers, their leadership obligations would also require senior UCL academics to "be putting back into their discipline by doing professional service, and into the institution by managing and developing strategic areas in their own departments and leading career development of younger colleagues". Younger academics, for their part, should be "developing their leading position in their subject and nurturing students".
The UCL Research Strategy stated: “It is through cross-disciplinary interaction between research leaders that our work will become best-placed to yield solutions that can address effectively aspects of the major global issues of the 21st century. UCL will, therefore, increase and strengthen as appropriate cross-disciplinary research, enabling our excellent specialisms to come together and optimise their joint impact.” Price distinguished cross-disciplinarity – "between experts in different disciplines, transcending subject boundaries" – from "interdiciplinary generalism". The Times Higher Education article stated: "Cross-disciplinary collaboration did not necessarily happen "naturally", and this was where Professor Price's office justified its existence - by organising symposia, offering seed funding and even establishing cross-disciplinary institutes. "Some universities believe that just having excellence and enough people together [means] it will all happen. I believe excellence is a key thing, but you need also to give people a framework...to refer back to," he said. He said his approach was not "dirigiste", but that he hoped to create an ethos of collegiality in which collaboration became the norm. … "I am very happy to leave excellent people to get on alone, but we are providing them with an opportunity to do more." This was an opportunity that increasing numbers of UCL academics were taking up".
Price instituted pan-institutional research themes, relevant across disciplinary boundaries, in order to facilitate cross-disciplinary community-building and collaboration. He further enhanced UCL's cross-disciplinary capability by facilitating the foundation of thematic centres and networks, each bringing together a variety subject-specific expertise in order to address major problems with more sophistication. These included the UCL Computational Life & Medical Sciences Network, the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, the UCL Energy Institute, the UCL Environment Institute, the UCL European Institute, the UCL Genetics Institute, the UCL Institute for Global Health, the UCL Institute of Origins, the UCL Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction, UCL Systems Biology and the UCL Urban Laboratory.
Price also conceived the UCL Grand Challenges – Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing – through which concentrations of specialist expertise are brought together to address aspects of the world's key problems. The following were flagship UCL Grand Challenges initiatives:
- in Global Health – Population Footprints, the 2011 UCL–Leverhulme Trust symposium on human population growth and global carrying capacity; and briefings to Commonwealth Ministers of Health and the World Health Organization following publication of the UCL–Lancet Commission on Managing the Health Effects of Climate Change
- Sustainable Cities – publication of Sustainability and the Megalopolis: Facing the urban reality of the 21st century, the synthesis of a seminar series addressing topics such as climate change, transport, energy and water infrastructure, sustainability, health, security, resilience, society, culture, economics, planning and governance
- Intercultural Interaction – inauguration of the UCL Global Migration Symposia Series and UCL Migration Week; and foundation of the UCL Centre for Early Modern Exchanges, 1450–1800, the UCL Institute for Human Rights and the UCL European Institute
- Human Wellbeing – international conferences on The Future of Healthcare in Europe and Literature, Welfare and Wellbeing: The poetics of the Scandinavian welfare state.
In contrast to the utilitarian Grand Challenges, Price also developed UCL Research Frontiers "to empower research leaders to develop and test novel ideas: where the primary justification for the enquiry is human curiosity; in subjects where cross-disciplinary input adds value to the investigation; and where the results do not necessarily have any immediate application". The Times Higher Education noted: "UCL's research strategy will also see cross-disciplinary approaches extended to the curiosity-driven realm, with the adoption of up to 12 institutional "research frontiers", the first three of which will be the origins of life, human evolution and the dynamics of civilisation. Again, a variety of central coordination and support will be available, and Professor Price hopes to raise any necessary seed funding from philanthropic sources, with whom such ambitious endeavours "resonate"."
Price advocated a reconceptualisation – and reclamation by universities – of the term ‘impact’, which he claimed had been degraded by government and UK research councils. He envisioned UCL research impact being achieved though six broad channels: scholarly outputs, education, public engagement, social and commercial enterprise, translational research and public policy.
As UCL Vice-Provost (Research), Price is responsible for:
- scholarly outputs – he oversaw the launch of UCL Discovery, an online resource providing details of more than 200,000 UCL research outputs, with open access to more than 6,000 full text items
- public policy – Price introduced the first UCL Public Policy Strategy, to build on existing connections between academics and policymakers, enabling external agencies to identify sources of evidence-based policy solutions and UCL to anticipate better and respond swiftly to emerging policy issues. Price told Times Higher Education: "It is time universities started to speak the language governments understand. … That isn't saying we should do the research the government wants, but we should be able to articulate the outcomes of research in a way that is digestible by government." The article noted that "Price's office has formed willing academics into groups of expertise that map on to specific government departments. As well as having access to the literature, such groupings also have the advantage of being able to transcend the rigid silos that have hamstrung government departments even more than universities over the years, preventing them from tackling effectively the many major policy challenges that require coordinated approaches. He said engagement with the Department of Energy and Climate Change had been particularly fruitful, with UCL providing some "focused advice" on the issues it was currently facing, as well as helping it to understand where the research agenda was going and providing it with "wise counsel" about how the coming challenges could be met."
Price has advocated higher education policy reforms, including:
- the concentration of research funding on the highest levels of excellence, in particular on those universities providing added value through the breadth and volume of their excellence
- greater collaboration between institutions, and in particular between research-intensive ‘hubs’ and smaller ‘islands of excellence’ in other institutions
- funding of research that is internationally competitive in institutions that are able to compete and leverage their UK funding by collaborating on the global stage
- a rejection of defining the value of higher education in narrow cost-benefit terms
- greater amounts of research funded by block grants on the basis of performance, rather than through the grant application ‘treadmill’.
- ‘PRICE, Prof. (Geoffrey) David’, Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012 accessed 28 Sept 2013
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