Supporting two new high-profile Africa-based research projects, these latest awards position Leeds academics as among the most successful in the UK at securing funding from GCRF’s multi-research council fund.
Sixteen other Leeds-led initiatives, worth £4.3million, have also received support from individual UK research councils through the GCRF programme, the highest number of any university.
“Our researchers work together in powerful and impactful teams, and we have impressed international policy makers with how we operate across traditional disciplinary boundaries to tackle the major issues humanity faces.
“Our ability to build effective international, interdisciplinary networks can make a real and telling difference in helping improve lives, and at Leeds we have committed to doing this in the short and long term.
“We have committed to developing talented researchers and, over the last two years, have invested significantly in our 250 Great Minds programme to recruit the brightest early career researchers and support them with skills development and mentorship.
“I am pleased to see that these new awards have brought together world-leading professors with these University Academic Fellows, which creates a highly-sustainable environment for ongoing research success and development of future leaders.”
Leading an international team, Professor Tim Benton, Dean of Strategic Research Initiatives, is focussed on creating evidence-based policy to develop sustainable, productive, agricultural systems.
His team’s research aims to support smallholding farmers in Africa, to meet food security and economic development needs.
“The ultimate objective is to increase the resilience of smallholder farmers in the face of changing climate and weather patterns.”
Agriculture plays a key role in the African continent’s economy, employing millions but also impacting on the environment. The GCRF-AFRICAP project aims to make farming more productive and resilient to shocks to the system.
Professor Benton said: “This is about weather, climate, agriculture, economic growth, sustainability, livelihoods; with the end-game being how best to design policy for growth that is climate smart and sustainable.
“We will review what can be done better, given what we know now, and what challenges we will face in the future, and consider how we should prepare for them.”
“We know within our team we have the breadth of knowledge, understanding of how to operate in these countries and the experience of delivering projects of this scale to be successful.
“It is these assets which helped us secure the Global Challenges funding in the first place.”
Developing greater weather forecasting precision, and creating more accurate longer-term forecasts could provide huge benefits to African businesses, small traders and society, strengthening their ability to respond to crises.
Weather-sensitive sectors including aviation, solar and hydro-power and agriculture could all grow as a result.
A four year programme to meet these aims has been developed by principal investigator Professor Alan Blyth from the University’s Faculty of Environment and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science. Professor Doug Parker is its lead scientist.
“The developed world has seen a revolution in the skill and impact of weather forecasts over the past decades,” Professor Parker said.
“Delivering comparable benefits to people in Africa is a tough challenge which demands collaboration between mathematicians, scientists, forecasters and social scientists.
“The GCRF support will enable academic and operational teams to work together across Africa to improve forecasting skill and bring the benefits to ordinary people.”
Charles Yorke, from the Ghana Meteorological Agency said vulnerable West African communities depended on natural resources for their livelihoods and reliable weather forecasts will make a critical difference to their ability to cope with unexpected climate variability.
The programme is intended to develop the skills and knowledge of both African and UK-based climate and forecasting researchers, providing long-term expertise and knowledge exchange in the field.
Creating new international research capability in computer-based forecasts of tropical high-impact weather and building tools to deliver accurate forecasts will be integral to its success.
Summer schools in Africa, training events, plus secondments and academic exchanges to share knowledge and to integrate research based teaching into the curriculum of African universities is part of the programme.
"The Global Challenges Research Fund makes that possible, and means that the UK’s world-leading researchers are able to get on with the job of working with each other and partners across the globe to make the world and society more sustainable.”
The 16 other programmes led by Leeds academics which have also received Global Challenges funding - delivered through the individual research councils - exemplify the scope of the University’s research, commitment to quality, and having a genuine impact on the world.
Ralf Richter, David Brockwell, Eric Hewitt, Jessica Kwok, Emanuele Paci and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £600,000
Eric Blair, Adrian Whitehouse, Nicola Stonehouse, Alison Baker, Richard Bayliss, Joan Boyes, Ryan Seipke, Sally Boxall and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £376,000
Stefan Kepinski, Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso, Tom Bennett, Michelle Peckham, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £331,000
Roman Tuma, Lars Jeuken, Paul Millner, Sheena Radford, Peter Stockley and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £222,000
Vas Ponnambalam, Darren Tomlinson, Stephen Wheatcroft, BHF (May 2017), £107,878
Graham Askew in collaboration with Bangor University, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £477,383
Stephen Muench, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £132,945
Nic Stonehouse, MRC (Mar 2017), £906,341
Bill Kunin, Steve Sait, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £602,831
Adrian Goldman, EU (Mar 2017), £546,576
Sheena Radford, Wellcome Trust (Mar 2017), £1,836,482
Beatrice Filippi, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Jamie Johnston, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Tom Bennett, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Ryan Seipke, BBSRC (Feb 2017), £52,116
Mary O'Connell, BBSRC (Feb 2017), £46,986
Hannah Dugdale, NERC (Feb 2017), £504,138
Anastasia Zhuravleva, EPSRC (Jan 2017), £100,792
Richard Bayliss, Cancer Research UK (Jan 2017), £1,600,000
John Barr, EU (Jan 2017), £339,000
Mark Harris, Royal Society (Jan 2017), £250,000
Alison Dunn, NERC (Jan 2017), £105,000
Alex Breeze, Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund (Jan 2017), £180,000
Alison Dunn, NERC (Dec 2016), £18,000
Lisa Collins, BBSRC (Dec 2016), £1,681,835
Brendan Davies, Leverhulme Trust (Dec 2016), £247,555
Alan Benson, Mark Drinkhill, Ed White, British Heart Foundaion (Dec 2016), £217,223
Adrian Goldman, Royal Society (Dec 2016), £82,999
Lisa Roberts, Alex Breeze, Brendan Davies, Timothy Devinney, Oliver Harlen, Joseph Holden, Anthea Hucklesby, Pamela Jones, Philip Mellor, RCUK (Nov 2016), £484,172
Lisa Roberts, Alex Breeze, Brendan Davies, Timothy Devinney, Oliver Harlen, Joseph Holden, Anthea Hucklesby, Pamela Jones, Philip Mellor, Wellcome Trust (Nov 2016), £119,343
Katie Field, Rank Prize Funds (Nov 2016), £20,000
Jessica Kwok, Royal Society (Nov 2016), £14,948
John Ladbury, Cancer Research UK (Oct 2016), £4,250
Miriam Wittmann, Martin Stacey, Edward Vital, Lupus UK
(Oct 2016), £34,010
Valerie Speirs, NC3Rs
(Oct 2016), £90,000
Nicola Stonehouse, Morgan Herod, David Rowlands, BBSRC
(Sep 2016), £436,424
Joseph Cockburn, Wellcome Trust
(Sep 2016), £100,000
John Barr, Public Health England
(Sep 2016), £94,471
Helen Miller, DSM Nutritional Products A/S
(Sep 2016), £54,680
Steven Clapcote, Vitaflo International Ltd
(Sep 2016), £39,285
Juan Fontana Jordan De Urries
, Royal Society
(Sep 2016), £21,793
Jing Li, Sarah Calaghan, Mark Drinkhill, British Heart Foundation
(Sep 2016), £117,585
Sheena Radford, Alison Ashcroft, BBSRC (Sep 2016), £457,216
Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle, An-Jung Chen, David Westhead, NC3Rs
(Sep 2016), £354,456
Glyn Hemsworth, BBSRC (Sep 2016), £1,024,034