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Birkbeck announces winner of its annual Ronald Tress Prize

The prize celebrates excellence in research by early career academics.

A woman in front of a bookshelf, smiling.

Dr Grace Halden has been awarded the 2023 Ronald Tress Prize. As well as highlighting excellence in research by early career academics, the prize celebrates the legacy of Professor Ronald Tress CBE, a hugely influential economist, who founded the Department of Economics, Mathematics and Statistics and was Master of Birkbeck, from 1968 to 1977.

Dr Halden, an academic in English, Theatre and Creative Writing at Birkbeck, is a lecturer and cultural historian with a specialty in technological influence and human response in contemporary literature and culture. Her work is interdisciplinary and sits in the juncture between literary studies and medical humanities with a focus on reproductive health, reproductive technologies, assisted reproduction including intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilisation (IVF), donor conception, and bioethics, working mainly with 20th and 21st century literature and culture.

Dr Halden applied to the Ronald Tress Prize with her ongoing project, Cyborg Conception, which examines popular discourses on solo parenthood by choice (SPBC) through sperm donation. Thus far, the Cyborg Conception project has received three grants and produced three publications. Dr Halden's most recent publication, funded by The Wellcome Trust, is a booklet for UK fertility clinics on the lived experience of solo parents, to help shape patient support and clinic policy. This booklet was made collaboratively with members of the donor conception community.

In winning the Ronald Tress prize, Dr Halden joins a list of academics with equally fascinating and excellent research areas. The most recent award holders have included Dr Benedetta Crisafulli (Social Sciences), Dr Daniel Yon (STEM), and Drs Benjamin GreyImke Henkel and Kojo Koram, who were jointly awarded the last Tress Prize for Arts and Humanities. Other former prize winners include Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Birkbeck, Professor Matt InnesProfessor Anthony Bale and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Julian Swann.

Dr Halden commented: "I am honoured to have received the Ronald Tress Prize and am pleased that research into donor conception within the Arts has been recognised in this way."

The prize, which rotates its area of focus each year, aims to award excellence in Science research in 2024, and Social Sciences in 2025.

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