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Future Leaders Fellowships

Funding for innovators for the future announced

Published on: 4 December 2023

Two Newcastle University academics have been awarded funding of more than £2.5 million as part of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship Future Leader Fellowships programme.

UKRI’s Future Leaders Fellowships allow universities and businesses to develop their most talented early career researchers and innovators and to attract new people to their organisations, including from overseas.

Among the future leaders announced is Dr Craig Jones, Senior Lecturer in Political Geography. He has been awarded funding of over £983,000 for his project ‘The afterlives of war-related injury: Mapping civilian trauma pathways in conflict settings’.

The aim of the study is to understand the afterlives of war-related injury among civilian populations in conflict settings, specifically Gaza and Iraq. The research will follow seriously injured civilians on their journeys from the time and place they are injured through to rehabilitation and eventual reintegration into society.

Dr Jones’ Fellowship – which is for an initial four years, with a further three years later - will draw on a host of partnerships including with local service-providers specialising in physical injury and psychosocial trauma.

The work will draw on novel quantitative data on patterns of civilian injury combined with ethnographic, creative, and participatory methods, and will shed new light on civilian harm to better understand the connections between injury and everyday life. It will also examine innovative forms of care and the challenges faced by injured populations in areas where formal healthcare systems are severely compromised or often non-existent.

It is hoped that the work will provide an evidence-base for improving 'trauma pathways' and making them more responsive to individual and community needs.

Dr Jones said: “I am so honoured and humbled to have been given this opportunity. I intend to use the fellowship to highlight some of the more invisible costs of war on besieged populations, but also to showcase their innovation and resolve under punishing conditions of conflict. It is a privilege to be a Future Leaders Fellow and to work with such fantastic project partners from Gaza, Iraq, and the UK. I owe an enormous thanks to those partners, and to my amazing colleagues in Geography, and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.”

Also announced as a Future Leaders Fellow is Dr Claudia Soares, a NUAcT fellow in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology.

Dr Soares’ award of £1.7 million will aim to create a better understanding about the world of children's care and will combine historical research with creative and participatory approaches to develop new ways of thinking about children’s social care.  

Bringing together care agencies and care-experienced groups, the research will shed important light on the complex interplay of emotions, care, and politics to explore how these have shaped care practices in the past and present. The research will also highlight the multiple ways in which current knowledge, policies, and practices are the result of long-term processes of cultural, political, and social change.

Dr Soares said: “I'm honoured to be awarded a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship, which will help me to realise this ambitious project and emerge as a leader in the field of modern British history. This project will provide the first major cultural and affective study of children's care from a long historical perspective that will help to imagine new and radical possibilities for children's social care practices in the future and to generate new thinking about the value, meaning, and impact of distinct care practices over time.” 

Professor Nigel Harkness, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Humanities and Social Sciences, said: “These prestigious Future Leaders Fellowships will enable some of our most talented researchers and innovators the opportunity to carry out ground-breaking research in diverse fields.  I’m delighted that two of this year’s cohort are from Newcastle University and I have no doubt that their research will have a positive impact on society.”

The total amount of funding announced as part of this round of the Future Leaders Fellows programme is £101 million. The funding is awarded by UKRI to the most promising research leaders who will use the awards to tackle major global issues and to commercialise their innovations in the UK.

Additionally, UKRI has confirmed two additional upcoming rounds of over £100 million each, with deadlines expected in summer 2024 and 2025. 

L-R: Dr Claudia Soares and Dr Craig Jones

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