CASS receives Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education

Queen's Anniversary AwardAt the end of February, a team of CASS researchers attended the Presentation of the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Further and Higher Education, held at Buckingham Palace. The CASS team officially received the award from their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall on 25th February 2016.

Back in November, it was announced that CASS received the esteemed Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its work in “computer analysis of world languages in print, speech, and online.” The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are awarded every two years to universities and colleges who submit work judged to show excellence, innovation, impact, and benefit for the institution itself, and for the people and society generally in the wider world.

10 of us were selected to attend the ceremony itself, including the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, our Centre Director Tony McEnery, and three students. Buckingham Palace sent strict instructions about dress code and the possession of electronic devices, and we were well-read on royal etiquette by the time the big day arrived. I think all of us were a little nervous about what the day would have in store, but we met bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 9:30am, and took a taxi to Green Park. We entered through the front gates into Buckingham Palace, and looked back at the crowd of adoring fans on the other side of the railings.

We showed our entry cards, and found ourselves being ushered across the courtyard and into the Palace itself. We dropped off our coats and bags, and then went up the grand staircase into the Ballroom where the ceremony was held. We began to relax as the Equerry told us what would be happening throughout the ceremony, and the Countess of Wessex’s String orchestra provided excellent music throughout the event. The score ranged from Handel, right through to John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, and even a James Bond theme.

As the ceremony started, Vice-Chancellor Mark Smith and CASS Centre Director Tony McEnery passed through the guests, along with representatives from other universities and colleges, and then proceeded to form a line to receive the award. Chancellor Alan Milburn was seated at the front of the Ballroom, along with Anne, Princess Royal. Whilst receiving the award on behalf of CASS, The Prince of Wales asked the Vice-Chancellor about our work, and was fascinated to discover what we have undertaken in the past 40 years. After a brief chat about our work, Mark Smith and Tony McEnery were presented with the Queen’s Anniversary Prize medal and certificate that will be displayed in the John Welch Room in University House.

After the ceremony, we filed through into the Picture Gallery for the reception. Over the course of the next 60-90 minutes, guests were free to mingle and network with each other whilst canapés were served. Dignitaries passed through and spoke to the visitors; Anne, Princess Royal, had a keen interest in the impact of our work on dictionary-making, and I must admit that Tony McEnery was excellent at giving a summary of what corpus research entails. He outlined how it is used in modern-day dictionary building, and discussed some of the historical texts that we now have access to.

The Duchess of Cornwall also visited our group over the course of the event, and made a point of speaking to both Gill Smith and Rosie Knight about the practical applications of their research. They discussed extensively why corpus research is such a useful method in the social sciences, and spoke of their personal connection to the research centre.

Having the opportunity to promote and discuss our research with royalty was a true honour, and I think it is fantastic to see the work of CASS recognised in this unique and special way.

Congratulations to our newest CASS PhD student!

We are excited to be welcoming Craig Evans to the centre in October, as the recipient of a PhD studentship which was awarded to CASS for winning the Queen’s Anniversary Prize. Here is a little about Craig, and the project he will be working on, in his own words:

Craig Evans photoI am delighted to have been offered the opportunity to study for a PhD at Lancaster University from October. The PhD is part of a studentship funded by the Queen’s Anniversary Prize, and will involve working with a 40-million-word corpus of NHS patient feedback forms. A primary aim of the research will be to identify ways of improving patients’ experience of the NHS using corpus-based discourse analytic approaches.

I developed an interest in corpus linguistics and discourse analysis during my undergraduate degree in English Language and Linguistics, which I studied at the University of the West of England. There, I used corpus methods in a number of projects. A particular highlight was a study of the media representation of state care for children, where I investigated keyword differences between corpora using tabloid and broadsheet articles. This formed part of my undergraduate dissertation on the topic of care leaver identity, which helped to cement my interest in how social reality is constructed in discourse, especially in relation to care practices.

I am currently studying for an MA in Discourse Studies at Lancaster. When I’m not studying, I like to go walking in the countryside, mostly in the Forest of Bowland which is near to where I live. Other things about me: I enjoy watching films, in particular documentaries and psychological thrillers. I like the novels of Graham Greene, although my favourite novels are Sartre’s The Age of Reason and Mann’s The Magic Mountain. I spent my early teens living in Muscat, Oman. I like to visit different European cities when I get the chance. I like comedy, especially satire. And finally, I love music: I have varied tastes, but must admit that I listen to more 80s electronic pop than I probably should.