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The British Academy announces five Newton Advanced Fellowships for talented overseas researchers

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Assessing the impact of climate change on ecological capital, examining collaborations between individuals and perpetrators of drug-related violence in Mexico, and exploring innovation in insurance technology in the UK and China; the British Academy has announced funding for five outstanding overseas researchers to work on research projects with UK partners.

The funding for four of the projects, worth just over £275,000 in total, has been allocated under the Newton Advanced Fellowships funding scheme.

An additional Newton Advanced Fellowship, for Dr Hai Zhang (Peking University), will be funded by the Sino-British Fellowship Trust (SBFT). The SBFT was established by the late Dr Elizabeth Frankland Moore, to support individual or co-operative research projects. 

Newton Advanced Fellowships provide early to mid-career international researchers with an opportunity to develop their research strengths and capabilities through training, collaboration and visits with a partner in the UK. The aim is to support the development of a research community that contributes to advancing the economic development and social welfare of the partner country.

The scheme helps to establish long-term links between the best research groups and networks in partner countries and the UK to ensure that improvements in research capacity are sustainable in the longer term.

The full list of award-holders is:

Ecological capital in the context of climate change: Assessment, accounting and management – Yutao Wang, Fudan University (China) – University of East Anglia

Yutao Wang will study the impact of climate change on ecological capital (the world's stock of natural resources, including geology, soils, air, water and all living organisms). Taking the Yangtze River Delta as an empirical case, Wang will develop a methodological framework for the assessment of ecological capital and contribute to the development of effective policies to govern the use of ecological capital.

Analysis for the nexus of emission-air quality-socioeconomics for air pollution control in China – Junfeng Liu, Peking University (China) – University of East Anglia

China’s rapid industrialisation and urbanisation since 2000 has led to large increases in emissions of air pollutants and, in turn, the visible degradation of air quality in Chinese cities. This has made environmental and health issues a major focus of policy in China. Junfeng Liu will examine the performance and effectiveness of these policies and deliver an effective, evidence-based intervention and management plan for mitigating air pollution in Beijing.

InsurTech innovation: UK and China as hotspots of the global world – Xian Xu, Fudan University (China) – University of Nottingham

Xian Xu will look at insurance technology innovation in the UK and China, comparing the two countries’ ecosystems, market development, investment and regulation. He will explore how new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and blockchain development, are changing the entire value chain of insurance, from product design, asset management, claims assessment and settlement, to capital investment in the UK and China. Xian Xu will develop a comprehensive policy report which will be valuable for a range of insurance technology stakeholders including policymakers, insurers, start-ups and investors.

Transitional justice in Mexico: The problem of collaboration in drug-related violence – Juan Espindola (Mexico), Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) – University of Oxford

Through an analytic and comparative approach, Juan Espindola and his colleagues will explore the practices and institutions that have sustained collaboration between individuals and groups (including ordinary citizens and non-state actors, such as business, professional or religious corporations) and the perpetrators of drug-related violence in Mexico. They will also explore the means to discourage collaboration and the ethical and legal criteria to hold collaborators accountable. The project seeks to lay the foundations for an interdisciplinary long-term research program on transitional justice in Mexico.

*Water and early enclosed settlement on the Huai floodplain, Central China: Geoarchaeology of water management and landscape of the late-Neolithic site of Pingliangtai – Dr Hai Zhang (China), Peking University – University College London

Pingliangtai is a large, enclosed archaeological site in Henan, Central China, characterized by its large-scale earthen walls, moats and the earliest pottery drainage pipes in prehistoric China. Dr Zhang will seek to illustrate the technological, ecological and environmental conditions for the development of the early hydro-engineering at Pingliangtai. Through the application of geoarchaeological and GIS methods, Dr Zhang will examine how the water-management infrastructures came into being, their maintenance and functions, the wider regional hydrological contexts, and how this hydraulic-environmental dynamic reflects the technological adaptation and ecological resilience of the prehistoric enclosed settlements to late-Holocene climate change.

*Funded by the Sin-British Fellowship Trust.

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