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The APEX Awards 2019 advance interdisciplinary research

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The British Academy, with the Royal Academic of Engineering and the Royal Society, will jointly deliver the latest round of APEX Awards with the generous support of the Leverhulme Trust. Today's announcement comes as applications for 2020 open.

The APEX Awards provide funding for established independent researchers to pursue interdisciplinary, curiosity-driven research for the benefit of wider society.

The scheme encourages collaboration between partners from different disciplines – across the sciences, engineering, social sciences and humanities – to tackle challenges such as sustainable development and social change, providing grants of up to £100,000.

From the next round, awardees will also have the opportunity to apply for an additional £10,000 towards public engagement activities, enhancing their ability to involve the public in their work.

The list of 2019 successful proposals and primary applicants are:

Professor Dan Brockington
Evidence-based Development Policy in an era of enhanced Remote-Sensing and the SDGs
University of Sheffield 

Dr Stephanie Bunn
Forces in Translation: dialogues between craft, anthropology and mathematics
University of St Andrews 

Professor Tamas Szekely
The impact of adult sex ratio on societies
University of Bath 

Dr Neil Kad
Squeezing the most out of DNA; developing nanoconfinement tools to study DNA repair
University of Kent

Dr Margarita Staykova
Material Imagination: Developing prototypes of living materials using participatory design
Durham University

With the five 2019 recipients announced, the delivery partners of the APEX Awards can announce that the 2020 round is now open for applications. In this round, there is funding available for seven new awards.

The objectives of the APEX Awards are to:

  • promote collaboration across disciplines, with a particular emphasis on the boundary between science, engineering, and the social sciences and humanities
  • support outstanding interdisciplinary research which is unlikely to be supported through conventional funding programmes
  • support researchers with an outstanding track record, in developing their research in a new direction through collaboration with partners from other disciplines
  • enable outstanding researchers to focus on advancing their innovative research through seed funding

Since launching in 2017, the APEX Awards have funded 19 interdisciplinary research projects across the UK. Researchers supported through this award are able to address complex challenges by investigating problems through different perspectives.

Previous awardee, Professor Robert Field at the University of Oxford is researching the political implications and public reaction to using treated wastewater for human consumption in parts of the world currently facing water shortages. Implementing this new method of treating wastewater not only has the potential to readjust imbalances in water availability but it also has a reduced carbon footprint and capital cost compared to other water treatment methods.

Another previous awardee, Dr David Glowacki, said of receiving an APEX Award: “Inter-disciplinary research is one of those things everybody talks about, but which is always a challenge. The origins of the difficulty may be found in the word “discipline” itself! The APEX scheme seems seriously committed to funding creative ideas that link different fields of enquiry, and I hope it serves as a model moving forward.”

Further details and scheme notes are available. For further information please contact APEX@royalsociety.org.