I recently found out that I won a Philip Leverhulme Prize! These prizes have been awarded annually since 2001, with the aim to “recognise the achievement of outstanding researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future career is exceptionally promising.” They’re named after Philip Leverhulme, who died in 2000, and was the grandson of Lord William Leverhulme.
The Leverhulme Trust makes awards and grant schemes that cover a wide range of disciplines – including the natural sciences, the social sciences, the humanities, and the arts. For example, there were 30 Philip Leverhulme awards made in 2016, with 5 prizes across each of six different subject areas: Archaeology, Chemistry, Economics, Engineering, Geography, and Languages/Literatures. The full list of 2016 prize winners in all of the subject areas is available here.
The history of the Leverhulme trust is closely intertwined with the UK chemical industry – namely the FTSE 100 company Unilever. William Hesketh Lever (aka Lord William Leverhulme) was a Victorian businessman and entrepreneur who made his fortune selling soap globally. The Leverhulme Trust was born when Leverhulme died in 1925. He left a portion of his Lever Brothers company in trust for the purpose of supporting two aims: trade charities, and also “scholarships for the purposes of research and education”. In 1929, Lever Brothers subsequently merged with the Dutch Van den Bergh margarine company to form Unilever plc, which remains one of the oldest transnational companies in existence.