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Image of Professor Usha Goswami
Professor Usha Goswami at the 2018 Yidan Prize Conference at Jesus College. Photo: Richard Marsham

Professor Usha Goswami wins the 2019 Yidan prize for education research

Professor Usha Goswami, Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience and a world-leading researcher in the fields of literacy, neuroscience and education, has become Cambridge’s first Yidan Prize Laureate. 

Established in 2016 by Charles Chen Yidan, one of the founders of the internet-based technology and cultural enterprise Tencent, the Yidan Prize is the world’s most generous prize in education research and education development. Yidan Prize Laureates each receive a gold medal and an award of US $3.9 million, half of which is a cash prize while the other half forms a project fund.

The Yidan prize was founded to create a better world through education. The prize honours a researcher who has made outstanding achievements in education research and whose work will have a long-lasting global impact.Through a series of initiatives, the prize aims to establish a platform for the global community to engage in conversation around education and to play a role in education philanthropy.

Professor Goswami founded, and serves as Director of, the world's first Centre for Neuroscience in Education. Her research focuses on children's cognitive development, particularly the development of language and literacy. Her work on dyslexia led to the discovery that children with the disorder hear language differently, showing it to be a language disorder and not a visual disorder as previously thought. This significant finding is enabling the development of transformative new educational interventions, which will benefit millions of children with dyslexia worldwide.

Commenting on the announcement, Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Toope said: 

“I am thrilled to hear that Professor Usha Goswami has been selected as a 2019 Yidan Prize Laureate. Usha’s research has been vital in advancing understanding of conditions such as dyslexia, which have such profound consequences for children’s education in the UK and across the world. 

It gives me great pleasure, on behalf of our community, to congratulate the University of Cambridge’s first Yidan Prize Laureate.”

Professor of Education, Anna Vignoles, who nominated Professor Goswami for the prize, has commended her success, saying:

“Usha Goswami is an international leader in literacy research across languages, and an outstanding and dedicated scientist and colleague. 

Usha defined what has become the dominant international theory explaining language acquisition in all cultures. Her contributions to understanding of the neural mechanisms that underpin a child’s acquisition of language has the potential to prevent reading difficulties occurring in the first place for millions of children across the world. Early reading ability and the surrounding neuroscience has a huge impact on children’s development in all cultures, and as such, Usha’s is truly globally significant both to children’s development and to education.”

Dr. Charles Chen Yidan, Founder of the Yidan Prize, said: “I congratulate Professor Usha GOSWAMI on her outstanding achievements and commitment to improving education. Knowledge attainment is an area that transcends racial, religious, economic and national boundaries, affecting everything from human health and the environment to well-being and personal fulfilment. I hope every country and region can benefit from the results of the best research and education development work, helping to create a better world through education.”

Dr Julian Huppert, Director of the Intellectual Forum, said: "We are delighted to have been working with Charles Chen Yidan and the Yidan Prize Foundation for years, including running the European leg of the Yidan Prize Conference Series. We invited Usha to speak at the very first Yidan Prize Conference in Europe, and are delighted that she has won this amazing Prize. 

"It is wonderful that the connection between Jesus College, the Yidan Prize, and world-leading education continues."

This article first appeared on a University of Cambridge website and has been shared under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.


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