Paton Prize Research Award

The Paton Prize Research Award for archival study offers applicants the opportunity to undertake a short research project looking at The Society, as well as scientists who shaped major ideas and concepts in modern physiology. Awardees will have the chance to “dig into history” by delving into unpublished documents to discover the fascinating background of people, methods, subject areas, and events. Awardees are eligible for up to £200 a week over any four to six week period to cover living and research costs.

As a starting point awardees will use The Physiological Society archive housed in the Wellcome Library, London, to conduct a piece of historical research on an agreed project. Projects will mainly consist of independent study, following an induction on how to use, handle and understand archival material. Awardees will also be required to report to their supervisor, a member of the History and Archives Committee on a weekly basis, and produce an engaging academic report based on their research.

The goal of this scheme is to promote interest in historical research in an archival context. Utilising The Physiological Society’s and other organisations' archives (e.g. institutional archives), this four – six week project will provide awardees with practical experience in carrying out historical research with primary resource materials.

We welcome applications from undergraduate and postgraduate students wishing to conduct historical research as part of their dissertation project or thesis. Please ensure you have the permission of your supervisor or tutor.


A few project suggestions have been listed below; we also welcome original project proposals, however there must be a link with The Society.

  • A closer look at The Society’s Honorary Members – The Society has a long history dating back to its formation in 1876. The first two Honorary Members of The Society were Charles Darwin and William Sharpey. The Society’s archives offer an opportunity to explore early Honorary Members of The Society: who they were, what they did, why were they offered Honorary membership.
  • Past Officers of The Society – A number of notable physiologists have guided The Society’s direction and a full list of our past Officers can be found here. Awardees may want to take a closer look at some of these people and what their roles were within The Society.
  • The Physiological Society’s meetings:
    • In 2005, The Society held its first large main meeting. Prior to this, smaller meetings were held on a regular basis (up to eight or nine times a year) within University departments. How has the Society interacted with your institute? What is the history of The Society within your department?
    • The meetings are rich areas for study – after all, they were the core, and very active, business of The Society. The Communications and Demonstrations can be analysed for themes, techniques, authors, etc.

To see an example of some of the material you may find in our archives, take a look at our history sheets here.


Awardees will be eligible for up to £200 a week over any four to six week period to cover living and research costs. Costs may include travel, photocopying, stationery, daily sustenance and accommodation, and any other justifiable cost. These must be specified in the application process. Reasonable requests for additional funding will be considered. Funds must be used for the expressed purposes as indicated on the original application; any surplus funds must be returned to The Physiological Society and receipts will be requested. For applicants already based in London, accommodation will not be accepted as a justifiable cost.

How to apply:

Applicants can apply by submitting their C.V. and cover letter to Cover letters should detail why you are interested in the scheme, and if known, your own research proposal, as well as a breakdown of expected costs. Applicants should demonstrate how their topic links with The Society’s archives.

If you are interested in the scheme, but do not have a clear idea of a topic you would like to research, please contact The Society to discuss. 

Applicants applying as part of their undergraduate, Masters, or PhD projects should also submit a letter of support from their supervisor. If you are an early career researcher in a post-doctoral position, please submit a letter of support from your employer.

Deadline: Thursday, 8 June 2017
Funding decisions: Monday, 26 June 2017
Induction date: TBA
Projects should be carried out over the months of July, August, or September.

Terms & Conditions:

  • Funds cover maintenance costs and research expenses.
  • Applicants should have completed at least one year's full-time study in a higher education institute (or equivalent) of a degree that incorporates an element of physiology or history by the start of the studentship.
  • Awardees will be expected to attend an induction day in London with The Society’s Honorary Archivist, Tilli Tansey.
  • Awardees will be supervised by a member of the History and Archives Committee.
  • Applicants can either choose from the briefs provided or develop their own project brief.
  • The student is responsible for notifying The Physiological Society if any significant changes should occur either before or during the tenure of the grant award.
  • Funds must be used for the expressed purposes as indicated on the original application; any surplus funds must be returned to The Physiological Society. Receipts will be requested.
  • Please note that these grants, if awarded, are not taxable income.
  • Awardees will be expected to submit an academic piece of work at the end of their project based on their time in the archives within 1 month after project completion.
  • Awardees will also be asked to provide a case study, and fill in an evaluation survey, before and after their project.