National bodies for science, engineering and humanities and social science award £100,000 to eight research projects showcasing the value of collaboration across disciplines

6 Sep 2023

The British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society have announced joint funding of £100,000 each for eight interdisciplinary research projects based at universities across the UK.

Awarded under the APEX scheme (Academies Partnership in Supporting Excellence in Cross-disciplinary Research) with support from the Leverhulme Trust, the funding will enable established researchers with a strong track record in their respective fields to pursue research that spans the social sciences and humanities, engineering and the sciences. 

Each APEX award provides £100,000 funding for up to 24 months. Award holders can also separately apply for up to £10,000 to create and lead public engagement projects linked to their APEX Award. 

This year’s funded projects are:

  • Does cognition predate life? A philosophy-inspired engineering approach to defining and testing proto-cognitive processes in inert matter – Dr Mazviita Chirimuuta, University of Edinburgh
  • Exploring the feasibility of regenerating Medieval Licchavi Period irrigation infrastructure in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal – Professor Robin Coningham, Durham University
  • Understanding and Explaining Variations in the Rate of Radiocarbon Samples – Professor Timothy Heaton, University of Leeds
  • Bringing the Cosmos to the Lab: Explaining via Analogue Gravity Quantum Simulators – Dr Lina Jansson, University of Nottingham
  • New geometric methods for mapping the space of periodic crystals – Dr Vitaliy Kurlin, University of Liverpool
  • Robots in the Wild – Environmentally trustworthy robots for monitoring challenging natural ecosystems – Dr Hemma Philamore, University of Bristol
  • Integrated risk mapping of culture meat – Dr Neil Stephens, University of Birmingham
  • Responsibility for human-AI split-second decision-making (ROUTE) – Dr Ozlem Ulgen, University of Nottingham.

The 2024 APEX Awards will open for applications on 6 September and will close on 1 November 2023. For further information, please contact [email protected].

Further details about the APEX award scheme are available on the Royal Society’s website.

Professor Simon Swain FBA, Vice-President for Research and Higher Education Policy at the British Academy, said:

“The Academy’s Connected Knowledge message celebrates and showcases the ways in which disciplines must – and do - work together to create impactful research. The APEX Award scheme is a major initiative, bringing us together with our sister academies, to fund research which puts this into practice. The scheme always yields a fantastic range of research projects, and this year is no exception. From investigating the nature of cognition in a philosophical fashion, to exploring the responsibility for human-AI decision-making, the projects demonstrate the enormous value of connected knowledge. By facilitating collaborations between those working in different disciplines, the APEX scheme will help these academics to sharpen their skills, learn new methods and open new avenues of research. We wish them all the best and are excited to see the results of their work.”

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