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.
Helen Miller, Innovate UK (Apr 2018), £999,960
Elisabetta Groppelli, David Rowlands & Stanley Lemon (University of North Carolina), Medical Research Foundation Fellowship (Apr 2018), £293,494
Nikesh Patel, Medical Research Foundation fellowship (Apr 2018), £290,976
Jessica Kwok & Ralf Richter, Leverhulme Trust (Apr 2018), £298,273
Julie Aspden, Royal Society (Apr 2018), £20,000
Liz Duncan, Royal Society (Mar 2018), £14,602
Alex O'Neill & Ryan Seipke, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £45,489
Jim Deuchars, Royal Society (Feb 2018), £16,300
Stefan Kepinski & Netta Cohen, Leverhulme Trust (Feb 2018), £320,387
Lisa Collins, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £49,950
Lars Jeuken, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £30,000
Nikita Gamper, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £30,000
Alison Baker, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £30,000
Scott Bowen, Leducq Foundation Grant (Feb 2018), £28,470
Jessica Kwok and Ronaldo Ichiyama, International Spinal Research Trust (Feb 2018), £94,450
Alex O'Neill, Oxford Drug Design (Jan 2018), £86,098
Dave Lewis and Colleagues in South Africa, HEFCE Global Challenge Research (Jan 2018), £48,000
Sarah Calaghan, Ed White, John Colyer, Isuru Jayasinghe, BHF (Jan 2018), £128,308
Christine Foyer and Alison Baker, HEFCE GCRF Grant (Jan 2018), £71,158
Alison Baker, Yun Yung Gong and Lindsay Stringer and ICRISAT India, HEFCE GCRF Grant (Jan 2018), £27,000
Graham Askew, Simon Walker, BBSRC (Jan 2018), £699,781
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society (Jan 2018), £512,801
Alison Dunn, NERC (Dec 2017), £18,000
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society-Research Fellows Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £94,681
Helen Miller, AB AGri Grant (Dec 2017), £73,600
Simon Walker, Royal Society Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £10,000
Carrie Ferguson, Bryan Taylor, Harry Rossiter, The Physiological Society (Dec 2017), £7,392
Ralf Richter, Royal Society (Dec 2017), £6,000
Christine Foyer, British Council Newton Fund (Dec 2017), £49,840
Adrian Whitehouse and colleagues in School of Chemistry and University of Liverpool, MRC (Nov 2017), £622,319
Michelle Peckham, Neil Ransom, MRC (Nov 2017), £495,159
Dave Lewis, British Council India (Nov 2017), £22,540
Elton Zeqiraj, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Hannah Dugdale, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Shaunna Burke, Cancer Research UK Innovation Grant (Nov 2017), £20,000
Alex O'Neill and colleagues in Chemistry, BBSRC (Nov 2017), £431,865
Jessica Kwok, Wings for Life (Nov 2017), £87,365
Tom Bennett, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £523,679
Neil Ranson, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £494,318
Nikita Gamper, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £490,426
Amanda Bretman and colleagues from UEA, NERC (Oct 2017), £430,886
Juan Fontana, Rosetrees Trust consumables grant (Oct 2017), £22,500
Helen Miller, DSM Nutritional Products AG (Sep 2017), £69,988
Neil Ranson, Juan Fontana, Mark Harris, Michelle Peckham, Ralf Richter, Peter Stockley, Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle and colleagues in Engineering, FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Sep 2017), £418,000
Jamie Johnston, Physiological Society (Sep 2017), £10,000
Frank Sobott, Adrian Goldman, Mark Harris, Andrew Macdonald, Stephen Muench, Sheena Radford and colleagues in FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Aug 2017), £415,000
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