Professor Alison Park, former CLOSER Director, recognised in New Year’s Honours

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Professor Alison Park has been awarded a CBE for services to the social sciences.

Prof Park served as CLOSER’s director from 2015 to 2018. During her tenure, the CLOSER consortium made significant strides in maximising the use, value and impact of the UK’s longitudinal studies. Prof Park stepped down as CLOSER Director at the end of last year to become the ESRC’s Director of Research.

Under Prof Park, CLOSER launched Discovery – a unique search platform that allows users to explore the content of eight longitudinal studies in unprecedented detail, opening up these invaluable data resources to the scientific community like never before. She also led the development of resources for new users, including the CLOSER Learning Hub, which introduces longitudinal studies to less experienced researchers and students.

Prof Park also used her role at CLOSER to advocate effectively for data linkage – the process of linking longitudinal survey data to government records. CLOSER’s advocacy on behalf of the longitudinal community was instrumental in shaping legislation and guidance, such as the Digital Economy Bill and advice from the Information Commissioner’s Office on General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Prior to her role at CLOSER, Prof Park led the Society and Social Change team at NatCen Social Research, which designs and implements a number of key UK surveys, including Understanding Society and the British Social Attitudes survey, as well as the UK components of important cross-national studies like the European Social Survey and the International Social Survey Programme.

Other notable figures from the world of science to receive honours include Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser and Jeremy Farrar, head of the Wellcome Trust.

Dr Lisa Calderwood took up the post of CLOSER Interim Director at the start of the year. The recruitment process for a new permanent director is now underway.