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Royal Holloway academic awarded prestigious five-year grant from European Research Council

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Royal Holloway academic awarded prestigious five-year grant from European Research Council

  • Date11 December 2019

The European Research Council (ERC) has announced today that Professor Harriet Hawkins, Co-Director of the Centre for GeoHumanities at Royal Holloway has been awarded a prestigious five-year Consolidator Grant, worth 1.95m Euros to help researchers understand underground environments and the opportunities they provide for us in the future.


Professor Harriet Hawkins

Professor Hawkins’ project, ‘Think Deep’, will explore how artistic practices can help us to understand and conserve underground environments. The underground is a key site of pressing environmental and social problems and possible solutions to these.

This includes for example, the complex politics of resource extraction, concerns with urban overcrowding and sustainability and how to conserve our underground landscapes. However, our understanding, use and conservation of the underground is plagued by issues around how we know and work in spaces that humans often can’t visit, struggle to imagine and that challenge the limits of our technologies.

The Think Deep team, including artist Flora Parrott (an AHRC funded PhD student at Royal Holloway), will develop artistic practice to explore these issues, as well as supporting a series of artistic residencies and creative commissions, and programme of exhibitions, seminars and arts events.

Professor Hawkins, said: “This grant provides an exciting opportunity to extend research at the interface of geography and artistic practice.

“The curiosity driven research, and the risk-taking that these grants from the ERC encourages, will enable me to demonstrate the possibilities of interdisciplinary GeoHumanities approaches,  working across arts and humanities science and social science to address some of the pressing concerns of our time.” 

Professor Katie Normington, Deputy Principal (Academic), at Royal Holloway, commented: “I am immensely pleased that Professor Hawkins has received this consolidator research; it is a testimony both to her originality of thought and also to the rich environment of the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway which fosters such work.”

The ERC Consolidator Grants are comparatively rare, large scale and fiercely prized awards for outstanding researchers of any nationality and age, with at least seven and up to twelve years of experience after PhD, and a scientific track record showing great promise.

The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premiere European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers to run projects based in Europe.

For further information and to sign up for updates about project events, vacancies and residencies and commissions please visit

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