History in the making

Leading historian Professor Tom Devine has been awarded the RSE Beltane Senior Prize for Public Engagement 2012.

The award recognises excellence in engaging the public with academic research.

Professor Devine, Director of the University’s Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies has enjoyed an academic career which has spanned over 40 years.

Excellence in public engagement

Professor Devine was the Sir William Fraser Professor of Scottish History and Palaeography at the University of Edinburgh until this year. He now holds the post of Senior Research Professor in History, focusing on new research and supporting Scotland’s future generation of history researchers.

Among his many awards are the OBE, for services to Scottish History and the RSE’s Royal Medal, recognised as Scotland's supreme academic accolade and instituted by Her Majesty The Queen. He also has honorary doctorates from four universities.


Professor Devine talks about the current debate on Scottish independence and reveals which topic he plans to investigate, as his academic career draws to a close.

Successful track record

The RSE Beltane prizes were set up in 2011 by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Beltane to reward excellence in engaging the public with academic research. The senior prize is awarded to someone with a successful track record of public engagement.

Dr Nicola Stanley - Wall from the University of Dundee is the recipient of the Innovator’s Prize which is granted to individuals who are recognised as an emerging talent in the field.

The task of choosing the winners was once again difficult; the candidates were of extremely high calibre and we could have easily given out several awards. We are delighted with the selection of Professor Devine, who excels at engaging the wider community and Dr Nicola Stanley-Wall from the University of Dundee, whose innovative engagement activities in Molecular Microbiology exhibit potential for future developments.

Professor Mary Bowneschair of the committee that selected this year’s winners