EPSRC Press release on the Science & Innovation awards, Wednesday 20 December 2006
The recipients of the third round of Science and Innovation Awards have been announced by the EPSRC. Funding has been awarded to build the UK’s research base in the areas of Mathematical Analysis, Renewable Energy, Chemical Engineering at the Life Sciences Interface, Quantum Coherence, and Physical Organic Chemistry. EPSRC, together with the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), will fund 7 new programmes with a value of over £31 million. Science and Innovation Awards were introduced by EPSRC in 2005 to support strategic areas of research that are particularly at risk. In a changing research landscape, as undergraduates choose new options, more traditional core subjects are encountering declining numbers of entrants. This in turn affects the base of academic staff in our universities, which impacts on the nation’s capacity to produce the well-trained people and research leaders of tomorrow.
The 7 awards have been made to the following universities:
- University of Oxford
- University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University
- Cardiff University
- University of Sheffield
- Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow
- Universities of Cambridge and Oxford and Imperial College London
- Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham
Dr Randal Richards, Interim Chief Executive of EPSRC, said: “The latest Science and Innovation awards announced today are a component of EPSRC’s activities to ensure a future healthy and vibrant research base for the UK. These awards are made in partnership with the Funding Councils of England, Scotland and Wales and are focused on ensuring strategic research areas will have the necessary leadership capacity to ensure that future generations of researchers are available in the UK.”
The projects will create new centres of research activity in their respective fields in existing research environments that are encouraging and supportive of innovative approaches. These centres will have the critical mass to make major research progress. They will aim to stimulate research in the UK and international community and, where appropriate, to encourage innovation in UK business and industry. They will increase the output of trained scientists in their respective science areas.
University of Oxford — over £3.3 million has been awarded to establish a forward looking world class research centre in the Analysis of Non-linear Partial Differential Equations (PDEs). The centre, to be led by Professor Sir John Ball FRS and based at the Mathematical Institute, aims to create a vibrant and stimulating research environment and provide leadership in the area of non-linear PDEs within the UK. PDEs are ubiquitous in almost all applications of mathematics, where they provide a natural mathematical description of many phenomena. The behaviour of every material object, with length scales ranging from sub-atomic to astronomical and timescales ranging from picoseconds to millennia, can be modelled by PDEs or by equations having similar features. The centre will be focusing on the fundamental analysis of PDEs, and numerical algorithms for their solution, together with specific PDEs arising in areas as wide-ranging as geometry, relativity, finance, image analysis, learning processes and fluid mechanics, including geophysical, biological and polymeric flows. The strong research group at Oxford will, amongst other initiatives, establish an active visitor programme involving internationally leading figures, and will encourage collaborations between other UK Universities. They also plan to convene workshops with relevant industries and run a dedicated technical report series.
Two Oxford University projects have received funding in the third round of Science and Innovation Awards announced by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The University’s Mathematical Institute will receive £3.3m to establish a world-class research centre in the analysis of non-linear partial differential equations (PDEs). A second award of almost £6m will enable the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Imperial College London to create a new collaboration of complementary expertise between the universities’ physics departments in the area of quantum coherence.
Award of £3.3million for new research centre in the analysis of non-linear PDEs
Professor Sir John Ball FRS led the project to establish a research centre in the analysis of non-linear PDEs at the Oxford’s Mathematical Institute. The centre aims to create a vibrant and stimulating research environment and provide leadership in the areas of non-linear PDEs within the UK. The analysis of PDEs is a fundamental subject area of mathematics, which links important strands of pure mathematics to applied and computational mathematics. They provide a natural mathematical description of many phenomena in the physical, natural and social sciences, often arising from fundamental conservation laws such as for mass, momentum and energy.
The grant will pay for three new permanent posts for an initial period of five years, and provide funding for postdoctoral and research students. The University will upgrade one of the permanent posts to a Chair.
Professor Sir John Ball, from the Mathematical Institute, said: ‘The grant represents a wonderful opportunity to help invigorate the study of non-linear partial differential equations in the UK, a topic that is of central importance to many parts of mathematics. The theoretical and practical importance of PDEs can not be over-emphasised, and fundamental advances in their understanding have implications throughout science and technology.’
Award of £6 million for inter-university collaboration in the area of quantum coherence
This award to the physics departments at Oxford, Cambridge, and Imperial College London will lead to an increase in the capacity for research and training in quantum coherence in the UK, and will thereby stimulate collaborative research projects between the institutions. Quantum correlated and entangled states lie at the heart of several major areas of physics, especially quantum optics, atomic physics and quantum condensed matter. The funding will pay for a new faculty and the establishment of state-of-the-art research laboratories and facilities, which will help to foster the collaboration between the institutions involved.
Professor Ian Walmsley, from Oxford University’s Physics Department, said: ‘Advances in our ability to manipulate quantum coherence across a broad range of physical systems will not only increase our understanding of the non-intuitive character of quantum mechanics, but also help in the development of radically new technologies based on quantum phenomena. This investment will build on a number of existing collaborations between three prominent research institutions that we expect will help place the UK among the internationally leading venues for research in this area.’