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Leverhulme Trust invests £30 million in new UK Centres for innovative research

The Leverhulme Trust Board has announced the three winners of its 2018 Leverhulme Research Centre awards. Each Centre, to be led by a named Director, will be funded for up to £10 million over 10 years, to support fundamental cross-disciplinary research across the whole range of the sciences, humanities and social sciences.

The competition was designed to encourage original research which would establish or reshape a significant field of study and transform our understanding of an important topic in contemporary societies. The Trust encourages research which is fundamental or curiosity-driven, multi-disciplinary, and often higher risk. Applicants were therefore invited to be bold in compiling their bids. In line with the Trust’s responsive mode of operation the choice of research topic was left deliberately open. The quality of the bids was exceptionally high and the task of selecting these three was correspondingly challenging. The new research centres are detailed below. 

Professor Gordon Marshall, Director of the Trust, said: ‘Leverhulme Trust Research Centres are a major investment in discovery-led inquiry at a time when funding for fundamental scholarship is under great pressure. They are our vote-of-confidence in the quality of the UK’s outstanding researchers. Each Centre will embrace multi-disciplinary and international collaborations designed to bring the highest calibre of expertise to bear on these exciting areas of inquiry. The Trust Board is delighted to add these new awards to its portfolio of long-term research investments.’

The three new research centres are: 

Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society 
Dr Apostolos Voulgarakis, Imperial College London
Wildfire is of great importance for landscapes and livelihoods, and for the balance of the planet itself. However, the ability to predict wildfire is inadequate, and our attempts to manage fire are unsuccessful. This Centre will be the first worldwide to address wildfire challenges from a global perspective. Bridging gaps among scales and ecosystems, and integrating perspectives from the physical and social sciences; it will produce unprecedented, trans-disciplinary knowledge required for skilful fire prediction and representation in Earth system research, and for successful fire management by future generations.

Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science (LCDS)
Professor Melinda Mills, University of Oxford
Demographic research aids society, government and industry to prepare for demands related to population growth and shrinkage, climate change, migration, longevity and ageing, fertility and household change. Our aim is to build an internationally-recognised centre of research excellence that will disrupt, realign and raise the value of demography. Our unconventional approach unites scientists from demography, sociology, criminology, economics, statistics, molecular genetics, biology, history, marketing and business, bringing ‘science’ into demography. 

Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity
Professor Chris Thomas, University of York
The proposed Anthropocene epoch is commonly represented as a time of ecosystem degradation and mass extinction, yet humans may also be stimulating one of the world’s great diversification events. There is a clear need for an interdisciplinary exploration of different scientific and societal perspectives on the Anthropocene, during a time of biological gains as well as losses, and human benefits as well as harms. This Centre will bring together world-leading researchers to understand the neglected societal and biological processes that underpin biodiversity gains, in addition to examining the causes and consequences of losses.

For more information contact: 

Professor Gordon Marshall, Director, Leverhulme Trust
+44(0)20 7042 9876 
Ms Bahia Dawlatly, Communications Officer, Leverhulme Trust
+44(0)20 7042 9875

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