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 have been awarded. 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.

Introducing our Returning Fellows:

Dr Esther Jones

Dr Esther Jones is a Lecturer in Natural History at the University of South Wales. She is a quantitative ecologist with a background in applied ecology of marine top predators. Since finishing an EPSRC Research Fellowship, she has become interested in more general spatial ecology problems. She is using the NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowship to build a new collaboration with the Scottish Ocean’s Institute at the University of St Andrews. Using data that have been collected at un-vegetated intertidal mud flats and salt marshes at important conservation sites in Morecambe Bay and Essex, England, the collaboration investigates the relationship between ecosystem service flows and biodiversity and characterises how this relationship changes at varying spatial scales. Cutting-edge spatial models will be produced. Through spatial predictions, results can be also applied to other sites around the UK to inform national spatial management plans.

Dr Liz Bagshaw

Dr Liz Bagshaw is a lecturer in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Cardiff University. She is a glaciologist who is particularly interested in biogeochemical processes in extreme cold environments and in developing new methods to measure them. As climate change accelerates the melting of ice sheets, we need to know how this increased melt will change the Earth’s system. Liz will use her NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowship to explore new techniques to measure meltwater underneath the Greenland ice sheet with collaborators in the USA and the UK. To measure the presence of subglacial meltwater, she will work with engineers to develop wireless instruments that can detect water and send data back through the ice. To understand how this meltwater changes as it flows out from beneath the ice, she will explore how pH and CO2 measurements from meltwater can be used to model carbon feedbacks, to predict how melting ice could impact local and global biogeochemical processes.

Dr Kerrie Farrar

Dr Kerrie Farrar has a longstanding interest in the way that plants develop in response to their genomic, environmental and biotic interactions. She started her scientific career studying single genes in small model plants and has since progressed through multiple genes to whole genomes in various plant species. Her research at Aberystwyth University now encompasses energy crops such as Miscanthus with large complex genomes, their associated phytobiomes and metagenomes.

Kerrie is interested in novel approaches to optimising plant growth and resilience to environmental stresses via plant-microbe interactions. Environmental stresses such as drought and salinity are increasingly limiting yields globally. Crop production is both impacted by, and a driver of, climate change and so increasing outputs whilst reducing inputs of environmentally and economically costly fertilisers is crucial. With her NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowship, Kerrie will develop new interdisciplinary research into beneficial microbes, particularly bacterial endophytes adapted to life within plants, for sustainable climate resilient crop applications.

Dr Sophie Ward

Dr Sophie Ward is a Scientific Modeller at the Centre for Applied Marine Sciences, Bangor University. Working on the SEACAMS II project, her research focuses on the Marine Renewable Energy sector around the Welsh Coast, with expertise in tidal modelling. Sophie joined the SEACAMS project after her PhD in Physical Oceanography at the School of Ocean Sciences, and has recently returned from her second period of maternity leave. With the NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowship, Sophie intends to extend her numerical modelling experience into coupled hydrodynamic-ecosystem modelling, with the aim of considering the impacts of extracting energy from the tides on the marine biogeochemistry - and hence ecosystems - around the Welsh coast. The travel funds will be used to meet and collaborate with experts in Marine Renewable Energies in the Scottish Government, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, and for attending national and international conferences.

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.