Campus entrance Roland Levinsky

Two academics from the University of Plymouth have been named on a list of the world’s Highly Cited Researchers for 2020.

Regarded by some as a who’s who of the world’s influential researchers, this year’s list – compiled by Clarivate – features Professor Richard Thompson OBE FRS and Dr Stephen Childe.

They are among more than 6,000 researchers regarded as having demonstrated significant influence in their chosen field, or fields, through the publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade.

This year’s list includes 26 Nobel laureates and 66 Citation Laureates, individuals recognised by Clarivate as ‘of Nobel class’ and potential future Nobel Prize recipients.

The names are drawn from the publications that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and publication year in the Web of Science citation index.

Professor Jerry Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Research and Enterprise at the University of Plymouth, said:

“This is great personal recognition for Richard and Stephen, but also reinforces the University’s reputation for world-leading research. We have an outstanding and diverse range of academics, in fields from ocean science to Big Data, whose work is having a genuine and positive impact in the real world. Being included in this list not only highlights the reach of our research but how it is influencing opinions and policy on a global scale.”

David Pendlebury, Senior Citation Analyst at the Institute for Scientific Information at Clarivate, added:

“In the race for knowledge, it is human capital that is fundamental and this list identifies and celebrates exceptional individual researchers at the University of Plymouth who are having a great impact on the research community as measured by the rate at which their work is being cited by others.”

Professor Richard Thompson OBE

Professor Thompson is Director of the University’s Marine Institute and Head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit.

He has been at the forefront of research in the field of marine debris for more than two decades, publishing – in 2004 – the first paper describing the decadal accumulation of microscopic fragments of plastic in the environment, particles he termed ‘microplastics’.

Since then, he has led or co-authored around 200 scientific papers which have been cited almost 26,000 times in other research documents. These have shown the global distribution of microplastics, the potential for them to transfer from the gut to the circulatory system, and their ability to transport chemical contaminants.

This work has influenced UK and international policies, while Professor Thompson has earned numerous personal accolades, including the Marsh Award for Marine and Freshwater Conservation in 2017, an OBE for services to marine science in 2018, and being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2020.

His team also won the Natural Environment Research Council Impact Award in 2018 and, based on their work, the University of Plymouth received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2020.

Dr Stephen Childe

Dr Childe is an Associate Professor in Operations Management in the Plymouth Business School, and formerly a Vice-Chairman of the UK Institution of Operations Management.

His research is focused around trying to understand how businesses, and particularly operations managers, can take advantage of latest thinking such as Big Data.

That has involved working as part of a strong international team – which has published a number of studies in the past five years – to look at how Big Data is seen by managers in different industries and with different experiences.

However, he has also worked on topics such as supply chain management, the circular economy and business process management, focusing on how industries can take advantage of new approaches rather than being resistant to change.

He has led or co-authored more than 120 papers, which have been cited around 3,400 times, and has a current h-index of 31.

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