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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.

The Scheme offered bursaries up to £20,000 to:
1) Replace teaching and/or administrative duties.
2) Provide support to help establish new research collaborations for research.
3) Provide support to attend national and international research conferences.

In return the Fellows agree to produce a minimum of one peer reviewed publication and a minimum of one research bid over £250,000 as a PI to RCUK or EU funding sources, before 30 June 2018.

Six Fellowships have been awarded, and through the initiative the Fellows have been 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.

Details of the successful Fellows and their planned research can be found below:

Introducing our Returning Fellows:

Dr Jessica Adams

Dr Jessica Adams is a Senior Research Scientist within the Bioconversion and Biorefining Group in IBERS, Aberystwyth University, with expertise in microbiology and fermentation sciences. Her area of research interest lies in the use of macroalgae (seaweeds) for biorefining, especially in the extraction of high value products; and in bioprospecting from novel microbial populations, both as isolated cultures and in metagenomic datasets. She will build on these interests through new collaborations formed using the Returning Fellowship, including to use novel extraction methods to isolate valued compounds from seaweed extracts with groups in the UK, and to form links with French researchers to tackle problematic beach-cast seaweed. She also intends to travel to and discuss collaborative opportunities with several other research groups in Europe and to visit a number of Universities, research stations and seaweed cultivation locations in Japan. Jessica has been involved in several successful grant applications to date including those from BBSRC, EPSRC, ERDF/WEFO, TSB and Welsh Government.

Dr Emma Hayhurst

Dr Emma Hayhurst is a Senior Lecturer in Molecular Biology at the University of South Wales. She took up the lectureship in 2009, and has since had two children and changed to a part time contract which has put her research a little on the back-burner in recent years. She intends to use the Returning Fellowship to kick-start her research again, in the area of environmental antibiotic resistance. She has supervised a number of undergraduate projects in the area in the last few years, and intends to extend that preliminary research to look at the prevalence of antibiotic resistance in different environments, and the impact of different anaerobic digestion methods on reducing that prevalence. Collaborations will be key to this project, and she will be working closely with the Sustainable Environment Research Centre (SERC) at USW, and using a proportion of the funds provided to develop new local, national and international collaborations in the area.

Dr Elaine Jensen

Dr Elaine Jensen left school at 15 and started a career in banking, but 8 years later had the opportunity to travel and undertake some overseas conservation work. Experiences during this time ignited an enthusiasm for plants and their value in renewable and sustainable systems. Elaine returned to the UK and attended Aberystwyth University to do Environmental Biology as a ‘mature’ student. Elaine was awarded a PhD scholarship to investigate gene-expression during the legume-rhizobia interaction. During her BSc she conducted an honours project on bioremediation and has wanted to pursue this topic since then. Having returned to work (part-time) from maternity leave in Oct 2014 she is excited to have received a Returning Fellowship to help her initiate a new project in this area: REMEDY will evaluate energy crops such as Miscanthus and Phalaris in the remediation of contaminated mine tailings.

Dr Katrien van Landeghem

Dr Katrien Van Landeghem is a lecturer at Bangor University since 2012. As a marine geologist, she studies the seabed as a dynamic interface that reveals the nature of fundamental glacial, hydrodynamic and sediment transport processes in the past and in the present.
With the Returning Fellowship Katrien aims to predict the preservation potential of shipwreck sites by replicating the seafloor more accurately in erosion models. Mixtures of sand and gravel, often found offshore, move differently than the pure sands defined to run these erosion models, rendering them unreliable. Seabed structures for harvesting offshore renewable energy, and to help protect our coasts against flooding, are subjected to the same sediment processes. Therefore this study will act as an analogy for how they respond to their environment over various timescales, allowing to better predict the erosion hazard around them.

Dr Claire Risley

Dr Claire Risley conducted research at the Universities of Oxford, Imperial and Liverpool before coming to Aberystwyth’s IBERS to take up a lectureship in Epidemiology. She is interested in quantitative approaches to the analysis of interactions between climate, biodiversity, endangerment and disease in animal populations. On her return to work following maternity leave in 2016, she will pursue a new NRN-LCEE assisted project on the drivers of wild animal disease. This will be achieved in collaboration with leading researchers in animal disease, One Health, and quantitative analysis of climate data. It will utilise and build upon existing databases of pathogen – host interactions to uncover new climate-disease vulnerabilities among species and communities. Given the broad scope of this project, Claire looks forward to the opportunities for partnering with researchers specialising in different species, disease systems and quantitative techniques provided by this new grant.

Dr Sindia Sosdian

Dr Sindia Sosdian is a lecturer within Cardiff’s School of Earth & Ocean Sciences since 2014. Her expertise is marine biogeochemistry and past climate change. Her research focuses on the use of novel and traditional geochemical techniques in coral skeletons to understand the impact of land use on the biogeochemistry and health of coral reef systems, and examine their adaptability in the face of modern-day environmental stresses. As a NRN-LCEE Returning Fellow, Sindia will develop an initiative with collaborations in Malaysia and Indonesia to understand coral reef health and diversity impacts from oil palm expansion in Borneo. Borneo coral reef systems are diverse and productive ecosystems of ecological importance under threat from intensified oil palm production and degradation of coral reef water quality. Her research will provide geochemical and ecological records of shifts in coral reef water quality and coral reef health in response to this local anthropogenic stress. Alongside developing new collaborations, Sindia will travel to Taiwan to learn a novel geochemical technique to help resolve changes in nutrient inputs into the Borneo coastal system, linked to enhanced agriculture. With these new collaborations and expertise, Sindia’s research will provide new insights into the response of coral reef systems in the face of local anthropogenic stress.


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