UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship

September 8, 2021, by Rob Ounsworth

Double success as university researchers land UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships

Two researchers from the University Nottingham have been recognised as among the UK’s future science leaders by UK Research and Innovation.

Dr Peter Millington from the School of Physics and Astronomy and the School of Chemistry’s Dr Liam Ball each receive a prestigious and highly competitive Future Leaders Fellowship, which aims to establish the careers of the next generation of world-class UK scientists.

Dr Millington and Dr Ball will receive £1.153m and £1.75m respectively  over the next four years as part of their UK Research and Innovation funded awards.  This will allow them to establish research teams and support the translation of their discoveries to solutions to global challenges.

I am immensely excited about establishing
my own independent research group and
helping to support the next generation of scientists
Dr Peter Millington

Dr Millington  will lead an interdisciplinary programme investigating the natures of dark matter and dark energy, which together make up 95% of our universe. His team will use powerful mathematical frameworks for describing how subatomic particles move and interact with each other to make predictions for experiments and observations that span astrophysics, cosmology, gravitation and particle physics.

Dr Ball’s team will deliver new methods to streamline the discovery and development of the next generation of agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals. An aging UK population, growing numbers of mouths to feed around the globe, pressure of resources and climate change all demand innovative, sustainable ways to feed the world and improve health.

Professor Zoe Wilson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Science, said:

“I am truly delighted at Liam and Peter’s success. These prestigious fellowships recognise not just the exceptional quality of their research, but their ability to inspire teams and engage with leading scientists in the UK and across the world. Their work has the potential to deliver exciting impact in contrasting fields – from developing sustainable processes for the delivery of new medicines and agrochemicals, to promoting understanding of the nature of our universe. Everyone across our faculty and their colleagues in the schools of Chemistry, and Physics and Astronomy is proud of their outstanding achievement.”

Dr Millington said: “The UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship will allow me to  bring together the complementary expertise and knowledge needed to tackle one of the most important outstanding questions in our understanding of our universe: what is 95% of it made of?”

His research, also supported by a Nottingham Research Fellowship and the Royal Society’s International Exchanges, can be applied to real-world systems, such as novel materials. In addition, Dr Millington is committed to inspiring the wider public about science and its value to society through a programme of outreach activities.

He said: “I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to join the cohort of UKRI Future Leaders Fellows. I am immensely excited about establishing my own independent research group, about helping to support the next generation of scientists, and about leading part of the theoretical physics community’s efforts to understand why our universe looks the way it does.”

This level of support will mark a real step-change
in my team’s programme and our ability to make
a difference to fundamental and applied research
Dr Liam Ball

Dr Ball said: “Now, more than ever, new medicines and agrochemicals will be vital in combatting the ever growing and evolving threats that face society. With this Fellowship I’ll have a unique opportunity to develop the tools needed to make these vital molecules, more sustainably and more rapidly than is currently possible.”

The award will help his team develop new ways of making valuable molecular architectures while minimising the number of chemical operations required and avoiding the use of toxic or precious elements.

He added: “It will provide me with support from highly skilled co-workers and access to state of the art instrumentation required to probe the course of chemical processes. In addition, it will support close working with industry in order to deliver meaningful and relevant solutions to real challenges.

“I’m delighted and frankly humbled by this award and the opportunities it will give me to drive my research forward here at Nottingham. This level of support will mark a real step-change in my team’s programme and our ability to make a difference to fundamental and applied research.”

The University of Nottingham’s Future Leaders Fellows are among 97 of the UK’s most promising science and research leaders, who will be backed with £113m from the government.

Making the announcement, Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “We are putting science and innovation at the heart of our efforts to build back better from the pandemic, empowering our scientific leaders of tomorrow to drive forward game-changing research that could improve all our lives and boost the UK economy.

“Supported by £113m, the Future Leaders Fellowships will equip our most inventive scientists and researchers across the country with the tools to develop and bring their innovations to market quickly – all while helping to secure the UK’s status as a global science superpower.”








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