Medieval space project among first ever recipients of APEX awards

26 Oct 2017

Investigating whether the medieval understanding of the universe can provide clues on the existence of a ninth planet is one of the interdisciplinary research projects awarded the first ever APEX awards by the UK’s national academies.

Dr Marilina Cesario from Queen’s University Belfast has been awarded funding to explore mankind’s understanding of the cosmos in the Middle Ages, and whether it can point to the whereabouts of ‘Planet Nine’.

Other projects include engineering structures in space inspired by bone tissue and finding out how readily people will drink recycled wastewater.

Professor Robert Field from the University of Oxford will study the politics, policies and public reaction to reusing wastewater as water for human consumption. 

Dr Kate Robson Brown from the University of Bristol secured funding to better understand how bones respond to stress during growth and development. In collaboration with the NASA Ames Research Centre, the findings will be employed in a pilot study involving the design of an engineering structure that could be both manufactured and deployed in space.

Professor Rama Cont from Imperial College London has received an award to investigate mathematical models of the financial sector for new insights into the monitoring and regulation of systemic risk. University of Sussex’s Dave Goulson has also received an APEX award to look into the impacts of pesticide use on pollinators and people in urban areas.

Professor Stuart Murray from University of Leeds will be investigating the relationship between disability and the design and use of prosthetics, with the aim of exploring questions of embodiment and developing inclusive methods of design and production.

The APEX award scheme offers up to £100,000 to established independent researchers wanting to pursue interdisciplinary and curiosity-driven research that benefits wider society. The grants, which promote collaboration in the humanities and social sciences, science and engineering, are jointly awarded by the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society, with generous support from the Leverhulme Trust.

The objectives of this two-year scheme are to:

  • support outstanding interdisciplinary research which is unlikely to be supported through conventional funding programmes 

  • promote collaboration across disciplines, with a particular emphasis on the boundary between science and engineering and the social sciences and humanities

  • 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


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