Anti Israel boycott professor elected to Academy

By Rob Lyons, October 14, 2010
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A leading professor who campaigned against the boycott of Israeli universities has been elected to the British Academy.

Shalom Lappin, professor of computational linguistics at King's College, London, was awarded the honour for his groundbreaking work on how children learn languages.

The 59-year-old has developed
a mathematical model to represent a human child's cognitive ability. He said: "I want to illuminate how much of learning is nurture versus nature."

Professor Lappin, from Canada, studied in Israel and has lived in London for the last 17 years. "It is a great honour to earn recognition from my colleagues and join the list of scholars at the British Academy. The only thing that could prise me away from England now is an offer from Harvard," he joked.

The lure of academic glory, however, has not extended to his four children. "I'm the only scientist in the family. A life of poverty and academic politics doesn't appeal to them. My one daughter wants to be a hedge fund boss…someone needs to make money."

Established by Royal Charter in 1902, the Academy comprises nearly 900 distinguished scholars and champions the humanities and social sciences.

    Last updated: 4:17pm, October 14 2010