Jessica Corner

May 25, 2022, by Rob Ounsworth

Thanking our remarkable colleagues for their contribution to REF 2021

We cannot underestimate the contribution of hundreds of colleagues who helped deliver our Research Excellence Framework 2021 results, where we placed 7th in the UK for Research Power* and improved on all measures. Delivering our submission in March 2021 was a huge team effort and many years of work are represented in the material we submitted.

We asked you to nominate colleagues or teams whose work in getting our submission over the line may otherwise have gone unnoticed by our wider community. And I am delighted that many of you are being recognised by your peers and your contribution is being shared with our wider community.

From this week, such contributions are being celebrated on digital screens across our campuses and on social media. Here are some of the things you said:

Dedicated, resilient and highly supportive…

Put in an exceptional amount of effort into producing not one but two top quality submissions…

Helping giving voice to our research throughout the university during the pandemics.

Colleagues supported one another in many ways – beyond producing the research itself or writing a publication, book or manuscript. Academics who covered a colleague on sabbatical leave or took on admin or teaching duties to give others time and space for REF also made important contributions; as did professional services colleagues who tirelessly shared expertise; postgraduate researchers essential to delivering outputs; technicians, librarians, data experts… and many more. Please look out for such tributes over the coming weeks, and if you are on social media please follow and share posts from @UoNResearch and tagged #WeAreUoNResearch

Celebrating research that transforms lives

Sharing these tributes is a welcome reminder that such support comes from a whole range of job families and which ultimately allows us to deliver research that transforms lives and societies.

REF2021 is an opportunity to evidence such impact – over the REF period our innovations saved the NHS £2 billion and our expertise informed legislation touching the lives of every UK citizen.

We are celebrating the transformational impact of our research in an external campaign, – From our world to yours. Again, please do look out for this on social media and help us highlight the impact of our discoveries.

Transforming our research culture to meet the challenges ahead

While we can all take a great deal of satisfaction from our performance in REF2021, there is no room for complacency. It is no coincidence that we renewed our research strategy while anticipating REF results. We know excellence in research can be measured in many ways and that we need to do more and do better to raise our ambition further and create an even stronger environment to deliver ground-breaking discoveries that anticipate and address grand challenges.

Transforming our research culture is key to achieving this vision and I am delighted that many of you have supported this by taking part in our research culture survey.

The survey closes at 5pm on Tuesday 31 May. If you have not already done so, please spare a few minutes to share your thoughts.

We want ensure as many voices as possible can be heard, giving us a benchmark for our research culture across the university. It will show us the paths we can take to make improvements at all levels, and make our working environments more positive and supportive for us all.

The survey is complemented by a series of research culture workshops, which are exploring emerging themes and findings from our survey and help us plan interventions that positively influence our working environment and change how we behave.

By sharing your insights and experiences, you will truly make a difference and help build a picture of how research is experienced and supported at Nottingham.

Growing global partnerships

I am delighted to share news of growing global partnerships, thanks to projects funded by EPSRC Institutional Sponsorship awards.

This funding support our global engagement strategic delivery plan for international partnerships, with priorities in building digital infrastructure to facilitate better data and intelligence sharing and developing global engagement strategies for countries addressing Sustainable Development Goals.

Methodology developed by Professor John Owen’s modelling of typhoon resilience of vernacular housing in Vietnam can be applied to areas of the world vulnerable to extreme weather as well as determine the resilience of power networks in the UK. Partnerships include Vietnam’s environment ministry and Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Climate Change, the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition–International and Oxfam, while a trans-disciplinary bid for a UK-Canada funded climate resilience project is under away.

Professor Jo Darkwa’s EPSRC award supported a feasibility study into increasing the capacity of a EPRSC and GCRF-funded bio energy project in rural Ghana. The scheme, which generates energy from cocoa husks, is modelling how integrating plastic waste could enhance the production capacity of the prototype bio plant, while helping to address the huge problem of non-recyclable plastic waste. Initial outcome shows an encouraging 40% increase in gas yields.

NanoCAT, a pump-priming scheme targeting new research capabilities at the Nanoscale and Microscale Research Centre, invited multidisciplinary proposals from across the university working with international collaborators and involving instrumentation in the Cryogenic, Analytical and Transfer (CAT) suite at the nmRC. The 14 successful proposals included partnerships with Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University (USA), Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Germany’s Research Centre Caesar, Max Planck, with wide potential impacts, from healthcare (new therapies for intractable brain tumours) and energy (the development of hybrid-perovskites as materials for next-generation photovoltaics) and sustainability (new composite materials).

I am delighted to share other successes:

Nottingham is to become partner city with Association of British Healthcare Industries, underlining the university as a centre of excellence in med tech and strengthening our attractiveness for industrial collaborators and research funders.

Dr Neelima Sailaja, Professor Derek McAuley and Dr Dimitrios Darzentas (Computer Science) have been awarded a two-year, £380,000 EPSRC grant to investigate how the lack of repairability in the Internet of Things and digital devices will adversely impact equity, inclusion and sustainability.

Professor Rita Tewari (Life Sciences) has been awarded £295,000 from the Wellcome Trust and DBT India Alliance to provide novel insights into the biology of plasmodium and unravel novel approaches to tame the malaria parasite.

Dr Sabrina Li, Assistant Professor in Quantitative Geography, has been recognised as among Europe’s most promising young science and healthcare researchers by Forbes 30 under 30. Dr Li investigates the interactions between human health and the physical, social and built environments.

Summer of data – research support from Libraries

The Libraries Research Support Team is ready to help you get more out of data from past and present research projects. Throughout July, the team is hosting activities to support researchers, including:

• 1:1 sessions to talk through your data issues (organising data for sharing, submitting to repositories, anonymising data etc)
• Data Management Planning training session
• Routes to let the university know about data in external repositories so we can help you promote your data more widely.

For further information, visit the Summer of Data webpage or email

Changes to licensing for university research publications

Our research repositories (previously ePrints and now RIS) have offered various licensing options for authors to choose from when depositing research outputs. During this process authors have often declined to select a particular licence and as a result, many outputs are under very restrictive licensing terms.

To provide greater openness for Nottingham research, Libraries will be taking steps to enhance the reuse potential of the publications in our repositories.

Libraries have started making these changes and contacting authors. You can find out more about the changes on Campus News.

To find out what this means for your research outputs, please contact the Libraries team at

*According to analysis by Times Higher Education

Best wishes

Jessica Corner's signature
Professor Dame Jessica Corner

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange



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