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UKRI fellowships awarded to Four University of Warwick Academics

· Four Future Leadership Fellowships in both Sciences and Social Sciences faculties have been awarded to academics at the University of Warwick.

· The fellowship scheme is awarded to the best researchers in the UK, keeping research and innovation in the UK world class

· The academics selected cover everything from stellar explosions to medieval medical texts for modern medicines

Four academics at the University of Warwick have been awarded a UKRI Future Leader Fellowship, providing world class research in topics ranging from stellar explosions, medieval medical texts for modern medicines, synthetic biology and climate –related financial risks.

The UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowships (FLF) scheme is designed to increase the supply of talented individuals needed to ensure that UK research and innovation continues to be world class.

Four academics at Warwick have been awarded a Future Leader Fellowship, which will help develop their careers as some of the best researchers and innovators from around the world in the UK. They will join the 9 previously funded Fellows as part of UKRI’s ambitious programme.

The academics involved vary from Sciences and Social Science faculties. They are:

· Dr Katharina Dittrich – Warwick Business School

· Dr Joe Lyman – Department of Physics

· Dr Erin Connelly – School of Life Sciences

· Dr Byron Carpenter – School of Life Sciences

Responding to the success of University of Warwick academics securing Future Leadership Fellowships from UKRI, Professor Pam Thomas, the University of Warwick’s Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research said:

“These fellowships are welcome recognition of the depth, breadth and ingenuity of Warwick research, it is a great plasure to see University of Warwick researchers being recognised by UKRI, and for them to receive support for their ground-breaking research. I wish our academics the very best as they continue their work and look forward to following their progress.”

Warwick Business School’s Dr Katharina Dittrich fellowship project is titled: Management insights for tackling grand challenges: the case of climate-related financial risks in the financial investment industry. She says:

“Climate change has been referred to by leading economists as the greatest market failure in human history, with disastrous impacts on human well-being and economic wealth. After years of neglect, there is a growing consensus, especially amongst financial leaders, that climate change is a material risk and that it needs to be effectively identified, measured, monitored and integrated into financial decision-making. Theoretically, this research contributes to developing new theory in the area of management studies on how organizations can tackle large-scale, complex, social problems, known as 'grand challenges.' Methodologically, it develops new social science research methods that are better suited to capture the increasingly mobile and complex issues facing organisations today. Practically, it seeks to inform the actions of (1) policy-makers and regulators to make financial markets resilient and sustainable; (2) financial investors to minimize risks and safeguard returns; (3) consultancies and data providers to develop appropriate tools and data; and (4) NGOs to develop effective advocacy.”

Dr Joe Lyman, from the Department of Physics is looking at New frontiers in transient astrophysics: gravitational-wave multi-messenger events and exotic stellar explosions. He explains:

“How and where did the elements of the Universe form? How do stars live and die? What happens when two of the densest objects in the Universe crash into each other? Where do the brightest flashes of light in the Universe come from? What is the ultimate fate of the Universe? These are some of the questions that lie at the heart of the research to be undertaken by this fellowship. The fellowship will exploit the UK's premier sky survey to detect new transient objects in the Universe, and undertake innovative approaches to studying these objects in order to further our understanding of the Universe.”

The School of Life Sciences, has been awarded two fellowships one to Dr Erin Connelly, for the project Datamining medieval medical texts for modern medicines, she says:

“Medieval manuscripts contain numerous remedies for the treatment of microbial infections, and these often involve complex preparations of several ingredients. These combinations of natural compounds could be the result of empirical work by pre-modern physicians to produce efficacious remedies. However, quantitative analyses of how medieval physicians used the materials available to them to create remedies, and empirical tests of the antimicrobial activity of whole remedies, are almost non-existent. The datamining of medieval medical texts using the tools of network analysis is a new way to evaluate combinations of antimicrobial ingredients in medieval recipes, and to identify significant ingredient combinations from an antimicrobial perspective. This is a novel route to developing new antimicrobial therapeutics in a time of increasing antimicrobial resistance.”

The second School of Life Sciences fellowship has been awarded to Dr Byron Carpenter, for his project titled: Developing a synthetic signalling system capable of the precise spatial and temporal control of protein function in living cells. He explains:

“Synthetic biology is a multidisciplinary field that aims to modify cells or biological systems in ways that produce societal and economic benefit. Eukaryotic cells, including those from plants and animals, hold huge potential in synthetic biology. However, due to their complexity, accurately controlling the behaviour of these cells is extremely challenging. This proposal aims to redesign natural cellular signalling pathways to create a powerful tool for controlling eukaryotic cell behaviour. This tool will have a wide range of applications, including studying the cellular mechanisms of numerous human diseases, producing engineered cells for use in regenerative medicine and developing miniaturised medical diagnostic devices.”

Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, said:
“The Future Leaders Fellowships are UKRI’s flagship talent programme, designed to foster and nurture the research and innovation leaders of the future.

“We are delighted to support these outstanding researchers and innovators across universities, research organisations and businesses.”

Kirsty Grainger, Director of the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships, said:
“That businesses are hosting Future Leaders Fellows demonstrates the fellowships’ potential to create innovative solutions that can deliver transformational change for industry and wider society.

“The Future Leaders Fellows represent some of the most brilliant people working in the country. We’re supporting researchers from every background – from the arts to medicine, and the social sciences to engineering – helping them become the research and innovation leaders of the future.”


23 APRIL 2020


For further information please contact:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 2476 574 255 or +44 (0) 7920 531 221

For further information please contact:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 2476 574 255 or +44 (0) 7920 531 221