Science and Innovation Awards

The recipients of the second round of Science and Innovation Awards have been announced by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Funding has been awarded to build the UK's research base in the areas of nanometrology, statistics, plasma physics and the Mathematics-Computer Science interface.

Science and Innovation Awards were introduced by EPSRC in 2005 to address the issue of giving support to strategic areas of research that are particularly at risk. In a changing research landscape, as undergraduates choose new options, more traditional core subjects are encountering declining numbers of entrants. This in turn affects the base of academic staff in our universities, which impacts on the nation's capacity to produce the well-trained people and research leaders of tomorrow.

EPSRC, together with the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and the Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland (DELNI), will fund 7 new programmes with a value of over 27 million.

Professor John O'Reilly, Chief Executive of EPSRC, said: "A strong research base in engineering and the physical sciences is vital to the UK's success as a knowledge economy. These latest awards underscore EPSRC's commitment, working in partnership with the Funding Councils and the Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland, to address shortages of academics to lead research teams in some crucially important areas."

The projects will create new centres of research activity in their respective fields in existing research environments that are encouraging and supportive of innovative approaches. The recipients and total funding figures are:

University of Warwick - 5 million to create a new centre of excellence in fusion plasma physics, in collaboration with the UK magnetic fusion programme at Culham Science Centre. Led by Professor Sandra Chapman (Warwick) and Professor Richard Dendy (Culham), the project will develop the understanding of hot plasmas required to sustain nuclear fusion. A long term programme of joint research including PhD student supervision already exists across the two institutions, drawing upon their expertise in fundamental plasma physics with both astrophysical and fusion applications. This programme will expand with the new award. There will be a significant enhancement of plasma physics teaching at Warwick, including final year undergraduate projects, in association with the fusion facilities at Culham, with the aim of encouraging more undergraduate students to study plasma physics and take it forward as a research career. Contact: Professor Sandra Chapman, University of Warwick, Tel: 024 76523390, E-mail: s.c.chapman@warwick.ac.uk / Professor Richard Dendy, Culham Science Centre, Tel: 01235 466377, E-mail: richard.dendy@ukaea.org.uk.

Queen's University, Belfast - 3.2 million for Professors Bill Graham and Ciaran Lewis to complement and strengthen the current experimental activity in high and low temperature plasma physics with theoretical and computational expertise. An additional element of this award is the proposal to coordinate a UK-wide, web and module-based teaching programme in Plasma Physics in partnership with other universities, laboratories and industry. Contact: Professor Bill Graham, Queen's University of Belfast, Tel: 028 9027 3564, E-mail: b.graham@qub.ac.uk.

University of Cambridge - 2.3 million for Professor Ian Leslie to develop the Cambridge Statistics Initiative. The project aim is to build a centre of excellence in statistical research and teaching that will produce a strong flow of experts in this field. The researchers will collaborate with other distinguished groups elsewhere in Cambridge and the UK, and four new lectureships will be established along with 3 postdoctoral research assistant positions and 3 project studentships. Contact: Professor Ian Leslie, University of Cambridge, Tel: 01223 765694, E-mail: pvc-research@admin.cam.ac.uk.

University of Bristol - 3.5 million for Professor Peter Green, Professor Guy Nason and Dr Christophe Andrieu to develop SuSTaIn - Statistics underpinning Science, Technology and Industry, within the supportive environment of the Statistics Group at Bristol University. The award will enable the recruitment of a strong, dynamic team consisting of a Professor and four early- to mid-career researchers as lecturers, as well as attracting a number of postdoctoral fellows of outstanding potential into a rolling programme where they are free to develop the latest ideas in mathematical statistics. It will also establish a comprehensive 4-year MRes/PhD research training programme. Contact: Professor Peter Green, University of Bristol, Tel: 0117 928 7967, E-mail: p.j.green@bristol.ac.uk.

University of Warwick 3.8 million to set up the Centre for Discrete Mathematics and its Applications led by Professor Mike Paterson. The Warwick project will be rooted in three internationally recognised departments at the University of Warwick: Computer Science, Mathematics and the Business School. It will focus on both the interface between mathematics and computer science and the fundamentals of operational research. The Centre will generate three new lectureships, an ongoing stream of postdoctoral research assistants and a doctoral training school offering 4-year PhDs. The University will also offer a new professorship in Computer Science. An Industrial Affiliates Programme will transfer knowledge and solutions to industry and other users. Contact: Professor Mike Paterson, University of Warwick, Tel: 024 7652 3194, E-mail: Mike.Paterson@dcs.warwick.ac.uk.

Imperial College London and University College London - 5.6 million for Professor Tim Jones (Imperial) and Professor Gabriel Aeppli (UCL) to develop new tools for nanoscale characterisation and metrology. The project will be based at the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN), a joint venture between Imperial College and University College London. The Centre brings together two internationally leading institutions in nanoscience and nanotechnology and has a unique operating model that accesses the combined skills of the departments of chemistry, physics, materials, medicine, electrical and electronic engineering, mechanical engineering and earth sciences across the two universities. Contact: Professor Tim Jones, Imperial College London, Tel: 020 7594 5794, E-mail: t.jones@imperial.ac.uk / Professor Gabriel Aeppli, University College London, Tel: 020 7679 3448, E-mail: lcn-director@ucl.ac.uk.

University of Strathclyde and King's College London - 4.3 million to advance the emerging field of nanometrology, for applications in molecular science, medicine and manufacture. Led by Professor David Birch at the University of Strathclyde and in collaboration with Professor John Pickup's team at King's College London, the project will facilitate the multidisciplinary research environment required to develop the extra capacity needed to make the UK a leader in nanometrology. The award will facilitate the recruitment and support costs of at least three lecturers, six research fellows and six PhD students, to be spread across the two institutions. Contact: Professor David Birch, University of Strathclyde, Tel: 0141 548 3132/ 3377, E-mail: djs.birch@strath.ac.uk.

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Notes for Editors:

These grants have been funded under the principles of Full Economic Costs.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. The EPSRC invests more than 500 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC also actively promotes public awareness of science and engineering. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.


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