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22 December 2021

King's History researcher among first ever Freer Prize Fellows at the Royal Institution

Viswanathan Venkataraman, a King’s History PhD researcher, has been named as one of the first researchers to be awarded a Freer Prize Fellowship at the Royal Institution.

Smiling man standing at angle facing toward camera with arms crossed.
Viswanathan Venkataraman, Freer Prize Fellow. Picture: Paul Wilkinson

Viswanathan’s project was chosen for the award from ‘an incredibly strong field’ of international applications assessed by a panel of world-renowned leaders in the field of history of science.

With nearly half of the world’s population lacking safely managed sanitation, Viswanathan Venkataraman seeks to understand the role science and technology have played in addressing this fundamental cause of high mortality rates, particularly in the developing world.

I am very pleased and honoured to be starting as a Freer fellow at the Royal Institution. The fellowship will help me think deeper on improving the interface between my own historical research and contemporary policy conversations on building robust, inclusive, and sustainable water supply and drainage infrastructures in the cities of the developing world.

Viswanathan Venkataraman, Freer Prize Fellow 2021

Viswanathan’s study of nineteenth century Madras concludes that commercial imperatives – as opposed to medical or public health imperatives – have driven historical improvements and set to inform contemporary international policies in support of billions of people worldwide.

In the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine and the History Department we are very proud of our wonderful graduate students who, like Viswanathan, are changing the way we understand the role of science, technology and medicine in history. We are delighted that his challenging and original arguments about engineering in the British Raj have been recognised by the Royal Institution.

Professor David Egerton, Hans Rausing Professor of the History of Science and Technology

Viswanathan is one of three fellows awarded this year and this is the first time that Philip Freer Studentship Trust funding for PhD students has been awarded through a competitive process, to bring the very best research projects to fruition. Each Fellow will complete the final year of their PhD research with support from the Royal Institution and funding from the Philip Freer Studentship Trust.

The three Freer Prize Fellows will take up their position at the Royal Institution from 1 January 2022.

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David Edgerton

Hans Rausing Professor of the History of Science and Technology and Professor of Modern British History