University of Bradford academics awarded almost £2m as part of national UKRI funding pot

Two University of Bradford academics have been awarded close to £2m by funding body UK Research & Innovation to lead original research, as part of a nationwide programme worth £98m.

Dr Samina Karim and Dr Simon Fitch have been named – along with 82 others – in the UK’s Future Leader Fellowship scheme, which empowers academics to research major global issues and commercialise their innovations at UK universities and companies.

Dr Karim will receive £673,790, while Dr Fitch will receive just over £1m. Both have been given coveted Future Leader Fellowship status.

Dr Karim will lead research into the sexual abuse of children, while Dr Fitch will explore hitherto unexplored underwater landscapes in the North Sea and Mediterranean.

Dr Karim said: “The eradication of child abuse is a global responsibility, and it is important to recognise the vulnerability of children, whatever the culture or context. The sexual abuse of children, therefore, is not limited to a particular place; so we need to think more broadly about how we understand and address these concerns.”

Dr Fitch said: “Our knowledge of the submerged coastal zones of the Late Palaeolithic is essentially non-existent and we have little to no knowledge on the settlement of these areas. This project will represent the first serious attempt to record these landscapes and understand the communities who lived on the edge of the continents.”

Professor Chris Gaffney, interim pro-vice-chancellor for research and innovation, said: “We are absolutely delighted that a university of our size has succeeded in gaining two of these prestigious awards. It says a lot about the dedication of the staff and the mentoring of early career researchers.

“It’s very much a day for celebration, because Future Leader Fellowships are highly prized. To get one in the 84 would have been terrific, but to get two is outstanding.”

UKRI described the 84 named academics as among the UK’s “most promising science and research leaders”.

Science Minister George Freeman will announce the funding at 1pm on Wednesday June 15.

UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said: “The Future Leaders Fellowships provide researchers and innovators with the freedom and generous long-term support to progress adventurous new ideas, and to move across disciplinary boundaries and between academia and industry.

“The fellows announced today provide shining examples of the talented researchers and innovators across every discipline attracted to pursue their ideas in universities and businesses throughout the UK, with the potential to deliver transformative research that can be felt across society and the economy.”

£100m new support for further Fellowships

Building on the success of the £900 million invested in the first six rounds of Future Leaders Fellowship, UKRI has additionally committed £100 million for a seventh round.

The scheme helps universities and businesses in the UK recruit, develop and retain the world’s best researchers and innovators, regardless of their background. Researchers can apply for substantial long-term funding to support their research or innovation and develop their careers, with each fellowship will last four to seven years.

The projects will be an important part of the government’s ambition to cement the UK’s status as a global leader in science, research and innovation.