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Priestley Centre researcher chosen for prominent funding programme

Centre news

A Leeds expert working at the cutting edge of climate research has received a prestigious national award.

Dr Viktoria Spaiser had been awarded a Future Leaders Fellowship from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). Created in 2018, the Government-backed scheme is designed to promote ambitious and challenging research and innovative work by some of the UK’s brightest academic and business minds.

The investment will enable Dr Spaiser, who is based in the School of Politics and International Studies, to more rapidly progress her work exploring social change in the context of the climate crisis.

Recipients of the award were announced by Science Minister Amanda Solloway, who 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.”

Dr Spaiser will lead a project titled Understanding Normative Change to Address the Climate Change Emergency. It focuses on how we can establish the societal determination and consensus required to fight climate change.

She said: “I am so excited to be able to do this research and to contribute to our understanding of how to affect social change to help combat climate change.

“The fellowship allows me to take a holistic perspective and think bigger, looking at interconnected questions and complex phenomena when studying the societal response to the climate emergency.”

World leading researchers at Leeds

The Future Leaders Fellowships scheme helps universities and businesses in the UK recruit, develop and retain the world’s best researchers and innovators, regardless of their background. Each fellowship will last four to seven years.

This year, 3 of the 97 new fellowships were awarded to researchers at the University of Leeds. Dr Tim Thurston,  in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, and Dr Rene Frank, in the Faculty of Biological Sciences, were also awarded fellowships.

Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Innovation, said: “We are thrilled that Viktoria, Tim and Rene, three fantastic researchers whose work is already making a significant difference in their fields, have been accepted into the Future Leaders Fellowships programme by UKRI. This substantial support will allow them to deepen their research into key areas of global significance, helping them to further develop their careers and make an even greater positive impact on our world.”

The three academics take the total number of Future Leaders Fellowships recipients at Leeds to 16. 

For media enquiries contact University of Leeds press officer Lauren Ballinger.