The Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (SRUK/CERU) is pleased to announce the winner of the SRUK/CERU Merit Award. This award is aiming to recognise the career of an internationally renowned senior Spanish researcher based in the UK who has been instrumental to the advance of science. Candidates for this award are nominated every two years by members of SRUK/CERU, the SRUK/CERU Awards Committee and partner institutions. For the 2020 edition, postponed due to the Covid-19 health crisis, the awardee is Prof. Esther Rodriguez Villegas, Chair of Low Power Electronics at Imperial College London, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, director of Wearable Technologies Lab and founder of Acurable company, for her prolific and outstanding scientific career both in Spain and in the UK.
Prof. Rodriguez Villegas started her career studying Physics at the University of Seville, in the area of electronics, graduating first of her promotion. She completed her PhD at the same university in 2002. After finishing her PhD, Prof. Rodriguez Villegas joined Imperial College London, where she has developed over the years an exciting career in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Her area of expertise, low power electronics, has driven her interests towards the development of wearable sensors for physiological monitoring and low-power integrated circuits with a focus on healthcare applications. Over the years, she has balanced a prolific career as an academic, with intense activity in the area of innovation and technology transfer, backed up by multiple awards. Examples include two European Research Council Grants, Starting and Consolidator, an Innovation Award from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), an XPRIZE and, in 2020, the Silver Medal from the Royal Academy of Engineering, becoming an elected member of the Academy (FREng) in that same year. In addition to her academic career, Prof. Rodriguez Villegas has also had an intense activity in the industry. In 2016, she founded Acurable, a start-up that markets advanced wearable devices to accurately diagnose and monitor respiratory conditions. Among other things, Acurable has been named one of the 100 Most Disruptive Companies in the World (Disrupt100).
With this recognition, Prof. Rodriguez Villegas has also been awarded an honorary membership of the Society and she will become a distinguished adviser for SRUK/CERU. The president of SRUK/CERU, Dr Carmen Sánchez-Cañizares, highlights that “Prof. Rodriguez Villegas is a prime example of a world-leading Spanish researcher working in the UK. Her professional career represents a reference and role model for our members. As representatives of the community of Spanish researchers in the United Kingdom, SRUK/CERU is proud to recognise her outstanding career with our Merit Award”.
In the words of Prof. Rodriguez Villegas “It is an honour to receive this unexpected award. It is truly emotional for me because, regardless of where I live or where I work, this is a Spanish award, and as such, it has a special meaning for me”.