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Returning Fellowships

The NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowship Scheme was designed to facilitate researchers returning to their work from leave for reasons of maternity/ paternity/ adoption/ health/ caring.

Ten Fellowships were awarded. Through the initiative the Fellows were given an opportunity to dedicate a greater percentage of their time to developing their research, delivering high quality publications and increased grant income – thereby adding significant benefit to their scientific endeavours in Wales.

The NRN-LCEE Returning Fellows were:

Dr Esther Jones, University of South Wales

Ester is a quantitative ecologist with a background in the applied ecology of marine top predators and spatial ecology. With the NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowship funding, Ester was able to build a new collaboration with the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews. Using data from mudflats and saltmarshes at important conservation sites in Morecambe Bay and Essex, the collaboration investigated the relationship between ecosystem service flows and biodiversity. Through spatial modelling predictions, the findings can also be applied to other sites around the UK to inform national spatial management plans. Esther also used Fellowship funds to present her research at the International Statistical Ecology Conference in St Andrews, UK.

Ester’s aclaim for the scheme:

The NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowship has allowed me to pursue my research interests and through doing so, has opened future potential funding streams, allowing me to progress my career.

Dr Liz Bagshaw, Cardiff University

Liz is a glaciologist interested in biogeochemical processes in extreme cold environments and in developing new methods to measure them. Liz’s NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowship enabled her to develop her research on new methods to measure biogeochemical processes in extreme cold environments to understand how increased glacial melt resulting from climate change will affect Earth’s systems. With the Fellowship funding, Liz was able to explore new techniques to measure meltwater underneath the Greenland ice sheet with collaborators in the USA and the UK and work with engineers to develop wireless instruments that can send data back through the ice. The Fellowship also enabled her to present results from trials of her wireless sensors in Greenland at the International Glaciological Society meeting in Exeter and visit the University of Washington to collaborate on instrument designs and funding applications.

Dr Kerri Farrar, Cardiff University

Kerri is interested in novel approaches to optimising plant growth and resilience to environmental stresses via plant-microbe interactions. Kerri’s NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowship enabled her to develop her research into novel approaches to optimise bioenergy crop production via plant-microbe interactions, focussing on bacteria adapted to life within plants as sustainable, climate-resilient crop applications. With the Fellowship funding Kerrie collaborated with the University of Arizona to source seed and plant material in order to initiate new experiments, attended a highly specialised microscopy training course, and presented at international conferences in the UK, Ireland and Egypt. She also accepted an invitation from CAB Reviews to write an article on identifying beneficial organisms for bioenergy crops.

Dr Sophie Ward, Bangor University

Sophie’s research focuses on the Marine Renewable Energy sector around the Welsh Coast, with expertise in tidal modelling. Sophie’s NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowship enabled her to extend her numerical modelling research into coupled hydrodynamic-ecosystem modelling of marine renewable energy, by considering the impacts of extracting energy from the tides on marine biogeochemistry – and hence ecosystems – around the Welsh coast. Sophie used the Fellowship funds to connect with research groups at Marine Scotland Science, the University of Exeter and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, and to run a MASTS workshop in Glasgow on the challenges of working in high tidal stream sites. The Fellowship also enabled her to attend a Marine Ecosystem Research Programme science meeting in London, a workshop on science communication in Cardiff and the American Geoscience Union Fall Meeting 2018.

Dr Jessica Adams, Aberystwyth University

Jessica’s research interests lie in the use of macroalgae (seaweeds) for biorefining – a process in which high-value products are extracted and the remainder processed to minimise ‘waste’, and in bioprospecting from novel microbial populations. With the NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowship Jessica was able to make and maintain links with researchers in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Iceland and Japan and present at international conferences in Ireland, Denmark and Canada with excellent new collaboration opportunities. Her Fellowship also enabled her to establish a relationship with GreenSeas Resources, a seaweed processing company, with whom she successfully acquired funding for two KESS2 PhD studentships.

Jessica’s aclaim for the scheme:

The Returning Fellowship has been a fantastic, flexible award which I am utterly delighted to have received. It has provided me with the means to achieve my potential.

Dr Emma Hayhurst, University of South Wales

Emma’s research interests lie in environmental antibiotic resistance. Emma’s NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowship enabled her to develop her research on the transmission and detection of antibiotic resistance including assessing the effectiveness of wastewater treatment at reducing antibiotic resistance in sludge destined for agricultural land. Emma used her Fellowship to travel across the UK to build collaborations and now has research projects with Dŵr Cymru and the Aneurin Bevan Health Board. She also funded a visit from a Professor at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman, with whom she submitted a funding application. Emma presented her work at various conferences, including winning second poster prize at an NHS research conference, and best poster at the Society for Applied Microbiology conference on wastewater and antibiotic resistance. She has also used her Fellowship to fund public engagement activities such as Soapbox Science.

Emma’s aclaim for the scheme:

The Fellowship has been completely instrumental in my successful return to research after having children. I have used it to buy out teaching, and this has allowed me to manage my workload at a time when life is pretty busy. I have also used it to fund travel of both myself and a key collaborator, allowing me to build my connections and reputation in this area of research, and to learn from the experts around the world.”

Dr Elaine Jensen, Aberystwyth University

Elaine’s research focusses on bioremediation, with particular interest in the application of energy crops such as Miscanthus and Phalaris in the remediation of contaminated mine tailings. Elaine’s NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowship enabled her to develop her research into the use of energy crops for the phytoremediation of contaminated mine spoil in Wales. With the Fellowship funding, Elaine was able to form new collaborations to evaluate energy crops on highly contaminated metal mine tailings both locally, and in Katowice, Poland. The Fellowship also enabled her to attend and present at international conferences in the UK, Ireland, Greece, Serbia and the USA and develop networks with researchers in the UK and overseas.

Dr Katrien Van Landeghem, Bangor University

Katrien studies how the seabed as a dynamic interface reveals the nature of glacial, hydrodynamic and sediment transport processes. Katrien’s NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowship enabled her to develop her research on improving models of seabed erosion around seafloor objects such as shipwrecks, marine renewable devices and flood defence structures. With the Fellowship funding, Katrien was able to network at conferences in the UK, Austria and USA, and convene meetings to set up new research collaborations including a workshop at Bangor University. Through these activities, Katrien collaborated with HR Wallingford (a world expert research consultancy) to secure funding for a PhD student, submit a funding bid to collect offshore data and conduct experiments in a large flume laboratory. Katrien also used Fellowship funds to employ a teaching assistant to release more time for her research activities.

Dr Claire Risley, Aberystwyth University

Claire is interested in quantitative approaches to the analysis of interactions between climate, biodiversity, endangerment and disease in animal populations.Claire’s NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowship enabled her to develop her research into the drivers of disease in wild and domestic animals, using climate data on pathogen-host interactions to uncover new climate-disease vulnerabilities among species and communities. Claire used funds from the Fellowship to employ a teaching assistant to release more time for her research activities and to facilitate collaborative work with the Royal Veterinary College on viral diseases affecting livestock.

Dr Sindia Sosdian, Cardiff University

Sindia’s research focuses on the use of geochemical techniques to understand the impact of environmental stresses on the biogeochemistry, health and adaptability of coral reef systems. With the Fellowship funding, Sindia was able to develop collaborations with scientists and a conservation organisation in Fiji to help resolve agricultural effects on Fijian coastal marine ecosystems and applied for funding with scientists in Borneo to look at the evolution of turbid reefs. She also used her Fellowship funds to present her work at a series of international conferences in the USA and visit American collaborators to learn how to apply unique nutrient proxies in coral reef skeletons.

Sindia’s aclaim for the scheme:

This fellowship has given me more than financial support with time to reconnect with my research career as well. It has provided me with the confidence and flexibility needed for me to step back into a career in Earth Sciences. The Fellowship should be expanded to a UK wide scheme to ensure more returners are able to gain the support needed to develop a career in STEM.