Future Leaders Fellowships for two Lancaster researchers

Dr Marjorie Lundgren and Dr Brooke Simmons

Dr Brooke Simmons and Dr Marjorie Lundgren have both been awarded Future Leaders Fellowships through UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship scheme.

The scheme is designed to establish the careers of world-class research and innovation leaders across the UK with a total investment of £109 million. The initiative aims to support the creation of a new cohort of research and innovation leaders who will have links across different sectors and disciplines.

Physicist Dr Brooke Simmons will explore how the data challenges facing the next generation of astrophysical surveys can be used to help in the response to humanitarian crises (such as earthquakes and floods), and how lessons learned during the rapid data analysis required following disasters on Earth can be applied to our understanding of the rapidly changing sky (for example, sorting through data to find exploding stars and flickering black holes).

Dr Marjorie Lundgren from the Lancaster Environment Centre will look at increasing crop yields by improving photosynthetic efficiency and will establish the world’s first research programme specifically dedicated to engineering the rare, but beneficial, C2 mode of photosynthesis into important food crops. C2 photosynthesis is a simple CO2 concentrating mechanism that captures, concentrates, and re-assimilates CO2 released by photorespiration. The research programme will aim to increase yields and crop stability in a future unstable climate, improving food security on a warming planet.

Awardees will each receive between £400,000 and £1.5 million over an initial four years. The grant supports challenging and novel projects, and the development of the fellow’s career. The funding can also used to support team members, their development, and pay for equipment and other needs.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “We are committed to building back better through research and innovation, and supporting our science superstars in every corner of the UK.

“By backing these inspirational Future Leaders Fellows, we will ensure that their brilliant ideas can be transferred straight from the lab into vital everyday products and services that will help to change all our lives for the better.”

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said: “Future Leaders Fellowships provide researchers and innovators with freedom and support to drive forward transformative new ideas and the opportunity to learn from peers right across the country.

"The fellows announced today illustrate how the UK continues to support and attract talented researchers and innovators across every discipline to our universities and businesses, with the potential to deliver change that can be felt across society and the economy."

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