Lancaster researcher awarded Future Leaders Fellowship

Dr Cecília Gontijo Leal
Dr Cecília Gontijo Leal

Lancaster University’s Dr Cecília Gontijo Leal is among eighty-four of the most promising science and research leaders who will benefit from £97.8 million investment to tackle major global issues and to commercialise their innovations in the UK, Science Minister George Freeman has announced today.

Funded by UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship Future Leaders Fellowships programme, Dr Leal will lead research into the consequences of human impacts on tropical headwater streams.

These vital ecosystems sustain a disproportionately high share of global biodiversity, but are under intensive pressure from land use change. Her research will investigate human impacts, from roads to pesticides, on biodiversity in streams in the Brazilian Amazon. She aims to develop land use policy and practice mechanisms to promote sustainable stream management.

Dr Leal said: “I am overjoyed about this unique opportunity to develop a long term research agenda focused on Amazonian streams. The small streams represent 90% of the watercourses in the Amazon River basin and are the sources to the large rivers. The future of the Amazon depends on the integrity of its streams.

“My main objective is to promote conservation in the Tropics by improving understanding of the causes of biodiversity loss in streams, informing policy and conservation, and helping mitigate the pressures they face. Through the Future Leaders Fellowship I will conduct extensive field work in the Amazon, implement a long-term experiment, use cutting-edge techniques that are needed to address complex threats to stream biodiversity and translate my findings into practical guidance for stakeholders and ongoing policies."

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.”

Back to News