The Royal Society has announced 37 successful University Research Fellowship (URF) candidates for 2021, three of which are being supported as a Royal Society Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) University Research Fellow  The researchers will take up their new posts at institutions across the UK and Ireland from the start of October.

Dame Linda Partridge, Biological Secretary and Vice President of the Royal Society said, “The URF scheme honours high calibre early career scientists throughout the UK and Ireland. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the research community, and so it is essential that long-term, flexible funding schemes like this are in place to continue to support the careers of researchers pursuing novel and ground-breaking research.

The scheme is central to the Society’s commitment to fostering excellence in science by supporting early career researchers who are fundamental to the future of global science. It is gratifying to see the URF scheme expand this year to support the biomedical sciences, a discipline that was vital in the response to the pandemic. This will ensure we continue to support a wide breadth of science through the scheme.”

The newly appointed research fellows will be working on research projects spanning the physical, mathematical, chemical and biological sciences. 17 universities across the UK and Ireland will host the University Research Fellows, with 32% of the appointments made to women. The three Royal Society-SFI University Research Fellows are:

Dr Michelle Browne, Trinity College Dublin (TCD), was funded for a project titled: ‘New Catalysts for the Oxygen Evolution Reaction’. Dr Browne will design and scale-up new active and inexpensive materials for water electrolysers to allow for the large-scale implementation of this renewable energy route.

Dr Christiana Pantelidou, University College Dublin (UCD), was funded for a project titled: ‘Gravitational turbulence in the era of gravitational waves’. Dr Pantelidou will investigate the key concepts and quantities involved in gravitational turbulence and model its consequences on black hole collisions in the universe, which recently became accessible experimentally. The results of this work will deepen understanding of how gravity and thus our universe work and will also allow a more complete picture from experimental gravitational measurements.

Dr Michael Gibbons, Trinity College Dublin (TCD), was funded for a project titled: ‘Loop heat pipe for waste heat recovery in data centres’. Dr Gibbons will harness data centre waste heat to produce usable energy that will reduce data centre energy requirements and carbon emissions. Data centres enable social networking, banking, and online shopping to function, but they also consume 1.1–1.5% of the world’s total energy and have one of the fastest-growing carbon footprints. This project will develop innovative waste heat transportation technology by combining numerical simulation, novel material science approaches, and previously unconnected technologies.

The complete list of 2021 appointments can be found at Royal Society announces University Research Fellowships for 2021 | Royal Society.

The University Research Fellowship scheme was established to identify outstanding early career scientists who have the potential to become leaders in their fields and provide them with the opportunity to build an independent research career.  After completion, many alumni are offered tenure positions, and receive national or international recognition for their work

Applications for the URF 2022 round opened on 13 July 2021. The Royal Society - Science Foundation Ireland University Research Fellowship 2022 call will open shortly to applicants based in Ireland and will be announced in due course with an extended deadline. The URF scheme has expanded to include the biomedical sciences, and scientists from the biomedical sciences are encouraged to apply.

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