UWE Bristol Expanding Research Excellence Scheme

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In May 2021, UWE Bristol launched the first ever Expanding Research Excellence (ERE) scheme, aimed at supporting and developing interdisciplinary, challenge-led research across the University.

The scheme is designed to bring together research clusters of individuals from across disciplines to respond to challenges aligned with major research themes.

In early November, four successful clusters were announced:

  • Healthy Waters
  • Data Research Access and Governance Network (DRAGoN)
  • Biospheric Microplastics
  • Cyber Security and Cyber Crime

Find out more about each cluster below:

Healthy Waters

Co-led by Professor Darren Reynolds, Professor Chad Staddon, Dr Tavs Jorgensen and Professor Wendy Phillips

People and ecosystems require both an adequate quantity of water as well as an adequate quality of water if key development objectives such as health, food security and water security are to be realised. Actions to protect water quality should be embedded in the larger concepts of sustainability, resilience and appropriate technology. There is an urgent need to explore and develop scientific, technological and societal responses to deteriorating water quality at all scales from cellular to global, but especially at the biophysical and community scales.

The Healthy Waters Research Cluster centres on three core themes, with integrated cross-disciplinary management, each drawing upon a wider sphere of scientific, societal and technological knowledge:

  • Science
  • Society
  • Design & Technology

Data Research Access and Governance Network (DRAGoN)

Led by Professor Felix Ritchie

Data Research, Access & Governance Network (DRAGoN) is a multi-disciplinary research group aiming to bring together researchers and practitioners from academia, think-tanks, industry and government. DRAGoN recognised that effective data use and governance requires contributions from many different professions: ethicists, statisticians, computer scientists, psychologists, economists, management scientists. Their aim is to create an environment for discourse which can bring differing perspectives together for the wider benefit.

Data access, management and governance is a highly applied topic; decisions being made every day affect our lives, our business, our government, often in ways which are obscure or known only to specialists in that area. They see the application of theory to practice as essential to the ethos of the group. They also reflect on practice: decisions about data use are often highly political, based on psychological or institutional factors. Working with practitioners helps inform our research with operational insights, as well as allowing us to challenge accepted viewpoints.

Cyber Security and Cyber Crime Cluster (CSC3)

Co-led by Dr Phil Legg and Professor Nic Ryder

From a cyber crime perspective, there are two classes of attack: cyber-dependent crime (criminal behaviour that is reliant on technology and its use in society, such as ransomware attacks and cryptocurrency money laundering) and cyber-enabled crimes (traditional crimes that have now become more widespread due to technology, such as cyber bullying and online fraud). Such cyber-attacks may originate from “script kiddies” and insider threats, through to sophisticated and professional operations by organised crime groups and enemy nation states.

The Cyber Security and Cyber Crime Cluster (CSC3) will conduct novel multi-disciplinary research relating to both the conduct of, and the mitigation of cyber attacks. As a broad and ever-evolving research domain, this will involve a number of related areas, including understanding the motivations and precursors of criminality, the technical means that enable criminality to be conducted, and appropriate mitigation and best practice to uphold security and defence.

Biospheric Microplastics Research Cluster (BMRC)

Co-led by Dr Ben Williams and Dr Stephanie Sargeant

Microplastic pollution is a considerable emerging health and ecological crisis on a global scale. The BMRC, building on microplastic research across UWE Bristol, aims to address critical gaps in the microplastics research landscape, notably the association between environmental exposure to microplastics through source, pathway, receptor relationships, and their potential to cause harm.

The BMRC brings together expertise from multiple disciplines, all of which play a crucial role in understanding the impact of microplastics on human and ecosystem health, expanding research excellence and enhancing teaching across the university landscape.

Through understanding the human and ecosystem health implications of plastics, there is an opportunity to contribute to their redesign, reuse and replacement throughout society. The research ambitions of the BMRC closely align with the UWE Bristol 2030 Strategy and at an organisational level UWE Bristol has pledged its support to the UK Plastic Pact.

The successful clusters were each awarded some money to help them develop their projects over the next 12 to 18 months. Cluster leads are interested to hear from UWE Bristol academics who may have research interests or expertise that may be relevant to their cluster, so please do reach out to the appropriate leads.

Springboard Projects

In November 2021, five Springboard projects were awarded smaller pots of money to help them progress their ideas further. The five smaller projects are:

  • ‘Designing urban environments for human health: from the microbiome to the metropolis’ – Dr Abby Tabor
  • ‘The UWE Appearance Accepting University Initiative’ – Dr Amy Slater
  • ‘Sustainable, healthy and accessible food Systems’ – Dr Angelina Sanderson Bellamy
  • ‘The prevention of sexual abuse’ – Professor Kieran McCartan
  • ‘Creative Resilience Cluster’ – Dr Tarek Virani

The Springboard leads would also be interested to hear from UWE Bristol academics with research interests or expertise relevant to their Springboard, so do reach out as appropriate.

The ERE Clusters and Springboards are part of UWE Bristol’s commitment to support research and achieve its ambitious targets for 2030. Find out more in our Research Strategy.

To find out more please contact research@uwe.ac.uk

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