Royal Academy of Engineering: Research Fellowships
Advanced Optics by Brookhaven National Laboratory CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you’re an outstanding early career researcher about to finish or recently finished your PhD in engineering, this scheme from the Royal Academy of Engineering could kickstart your academic career.

The RAEng Research Fellowships (information will be updated on scheme launch) provide five years’ full-time equivalent salary for the applicant, plus travel and subsistence and other research expenses. The proposed project must be in an engineering subject area, defined in the broadest sense (including computing).

Applicants must have been awarded their PhD no more than three years prior to submission, but employment status does not effect eligibility to apply (so those with a permanent academic contract can apply, as can those without a current contract). Previously unsuccessful applicants are able to re-apply.

This year the scheme will be launched on 27th July and the stage 1 application deadline will be 14th September 2015. Stage 2 proposals are due by 23rd November and the sift panel will take place in February 2016. For those who make it through to the final interview round, interviews will take place in the week of 14th March 2016.

There is an application limit for each institution so Northumbria cannot submit more than 2 applications to this call. Therefore it is important that you contact us at an early stage in order to ensure your application has the support of the University.



University Research Fellowships from the Royal Society

Academic by Tim Ellis CC BY-NC 2.0
Academic by Tim Ellis CC BY-NC 2.0

Are you a postdoctoral researcher in the life or physical sciences with between 3 and 8 years’ experience post-PhD?

The Royal Society’s prestigious University Research Fellowship scheme opens for applications tomorrow, 15th July. The fellowships fund “outstanding” early career researchers in a broad range of science disciplines, including engineering but excluding clinical medicine and biomedicine. Eligible applicants should have a PhD, with between 3-8 years of research experience, and not have a permanent academic post.

The awards provide five years of funding initially for 80% of the basic salary costs of the applicant, plus estates and indirect costs. After the five years, an opportunity is available to apply for a further three years of funding. Research expenses (up to £13K in the first year, and £11K thereafter) are also provided. In addition all successful fellows are eligible to apply for a “start up” grant of £150K in their first year.

Proposals should be submitted via the Royal Society’s eGap system by 3rd September 2015. Please contact your Research Funding and Policy Manager at an early stage. This is a highly competitive scheme and track record will play a role in assessment. It is critical that prospective applicants discuss their intentions to apply as soon as possible to ensure support is in place to help them to write a strong proposal.



Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships: 2015 Call Open for Applications

Academic by Tim Ellis CC BY-NC 2.0
Academic by Tim Ellis CC BY-NC 2.0

Leverhulme has announced that the 2015 call for their popular Early Career Fellowships scheme is now open for applications:

Leverhulme – Early Career Fellowships

The deadline is 5th March 2015. Applications must be made through Leverhulme’s online grants system.

Early Career Fellowships provide funding for early career researchers in any discipline (except medical and clinical) who do not currently have and have not previously held a full-time permanent academic post in a UK university. The cut-off date is five years from PhD viva, which means anyone who had their viva before March 2010 is not eligible (unless you have had a career break). If you are currently or have been registered for a doctorate then you may still apply as long as you have submitted your thesis by the closing date.

Funding provided is for 50% of a Fellow’s salary for 3 years (up to £24K/annum), with the expectation that the Fellow is moved into a permanent position after this time. The other 50% of the salary must be contributed by the University. Up to £6,000 per annum may be requested in addition to cover research expenses.

Please get in touch with your Faculty Research Funding and Policy manager at an early stage if you are interested in applying.


EPSRC Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Research

Catalysis research at Argonne by Argonne National Laboratory CC BY-NC-SA 2.0EPSRC is looking to refresh the membership of its Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Research.

They are looking for new members of the forum to form professional networks with other manufacturing researchers around the country and contribute to their Manufacturing the Future strategic challenge. Forum activities will include:

  • Networking and idea-sharing with all other Early Career Forum members.
  • Discussions, networking and mentoring opportunities with senior academics and industrialists from the Manufacturing the Future challenge theme and beyond.
  • Insight and mentoring into EPSRC processes and procedures, including various EPSRC grant awards and the associated peer review processes.
  • Involvement in the organisation and direction of the EPSRC Manufacturing the Future conference.
  • Potentially targeted feasibility or seed-corn funding for innovative, inter-disciplinary manufacturing research proposals.
  • Developing working relationships with EPSRC and TSB staff, and staff of major research awards such as the EPSRC Centres for Innovative Manufacturing.

To apply you need to complete an expression of interest form available on the webpage linked above, attaching a CV and statement of support as per the guidance document. The deadline is 1st May 2014.

For the purposes of this call EPSRC define “early career” as within 15 years of completion of your doctoral degree and both permanent staff and fellows are eligible to apply.

EPSRC are keen to cover the full range of the Manufacturing the Future remit, so disciplines which would not traditionally fit into the “manufacturing” fold, such as physics, chemistry, computer science and maths, are encouraged where their research could bear on topics in the Manufacturing the Future portfolio.

Although this is not a funding opportunity per se, it is highly significant in terms of expanding your networks and will likely give rise to “ring-fenced” funding opportunities over the next year or so (see for example this one only open to Early Career Forum in Manufacturing members last year).

If you are interested in applying, please contact us at an early stage.


Conference Funding – Association of Commonwealth Universities


To mark its Centenary, the ACU is offering 100 Early Career Academic Grants to staff at ACU member universities (Northumbria is a member) to attend relevant conferences or academic meetings in another Commonwealth country. The scheme is aimed at early career academics who have not yet had the opportunity to work, study, or travel outside their own country.

  • Grants can be used to cover travel costs, conference fees, accommodation and subsistence, and, where appropriate, small-scale purchases of materials for use in future teaching or research.
  • Round 2 of applications is now open.
  • Each Early Career Academic Grant will be up to GBP 2,000 in value.

The closing date for applications is 7 February 2014.

For further details, see the Association of Commonwealth Universities webpage

If you wish to make an application please contact your relevant faculty Research and Funding Policy Manager.

Some tips when writing:

* Applicants must not have attended any overseas conferences in the last 5 years. Use the section of the application that asks you this to state some you would have liked to attend but did not have the opportunity.

* The overarching aim of the scheme is to help ‘grow and support the next generation of researchers, lecturers and university leaders’ In your 300 word free text section identify how attendance at your chosen conference can help you achieve this. You will obviously need to be brief. (This applies to the other sections where there is no world limit. ACU will receive alot of applications to read!)

* Is there someone else attending you would want to meet/listen to? Try to identify people you can build connections and exchange ideas with. If you have had some correspondence with people attending the conference already you can add it as an attachment to your applcation. This shows existing links and how the grant might strengthen them.

* Finally, try and calculate how much you will need for attendance and itemise where possible in section 17. Itemise perhaps into flight, accommodation, registration and subsistence. This shows you have adequately considered what your grant will cover, and will be able to attend the conference if successful.



AHRC Wants to Hear From Postgrads

Twitter Bird Sketch by Shawn Campbell CC BY 2.0The AHRC is running a Twitter chat (#ahrcchat) on Friday 19th July hosted by members of its Research Careers and Training Advisory Group. It would specifically like to hear from PhDs and early career researchers on the training and careers support available for arts and humanities researchers.

The main questions are:

  1. Are you satisfied by the training and opportunities you have received during your PhD studies?
  2. Have you received sufficient careers support?
  3. What, in your view, do PhD students require in terms of training, development opportunities or careers support?

Follow @ahrcpress or read their webpage to find out more.


Guardian Panel on Writing A Successful Research Grant Proposal looking for volunteers: TODAY at 12

People Chatting by drewm CC BY-NC 2.0The Guardian HE Network has posted a message on LinkedIn looking for volunteers for its panel for their next HE live chat on “Research funding: writing a successful proposal” which is happening today (Friday 12th April) between 12-2pm.

They’re particularly interested in identifying early career researchers and PhDs for the panel, although anyone with expertise in this field will be welcome. If you’re interested, you’ll need to act quickly: get in touch with Claire Shaw either on Twitter or via LinkedIn. I’ve participated in one of these live chats before and I found it to be a great learning experience and good fun.

Other members of the HE live chat panel are:

  • Adam Staines (Head of Policy, RCUK)
  • Ken Emond (Head of Research Awards, British Academy)
  • Rebecca Stelarios (REF impact advisor to 8 UK HEIs)
  • Andrew Derrington (Executive PVC of humanities and social sciences at University of Liverpool)

**UPDATE 16:00** The chat is over now but there were some useful discussions and thoughts from the panelists. I encourage you to take 15 minutes or so to read through the comments.


2013 Marie Curie Fellowships Calls Released

European Flag by CoreMedia CC BY 2.0The final round of FP7 Marie Curie Fellowships calls was opened last week on the 14th March. The deadline is 14th August 2013 for all three kinds of Fellowships:

There’s an additional deadline of 18th September 2013 for the Career Integration Grants.

Who can apply?

Marie Curie Fellowships are open to “experienced researchers” in any discipline and at any career stage who want to enhance their research skills and competences (IEFs), add an international dimension to their research (IOFs) or transfer knowledge into the European Union and enhance links with “third countries” (IIFs). In addition IEFs can be used to restart careers for people who’ve been research inactive for at least twelve months.

In all cases mobility is the key: the applicant fellow must move from one country to another for a period of 1 or 2 years (full-time equivalent) to carry out a research project and gain skills and experience relevant to his/her research career. IOFs also involve a mandatory 1-year return phase to the host organisation in the EU. The origin and destination country is different depending on the fellowship you’re applying for: IEFs must move from one EU member state or associated country to another; IIFs must move from outside the EU to a host institution within the EU; IOFs move from the EU to a host institution in a non-EU (“third”) country.

Applicants of any nationality are eligible for any of the Fellowships – what matters is where you’ve lived in the 3 years prior to the deadline date for the call: to be eligible an applicant must not have resided or carried out their main activity for more than 12 months in the previous 3 years. For the career restart scheme, you need to have been based outside of the host institution country for more than 3 years of the past 5 and you must not have been active as a researcher for at least the previous 12 months (i.e. the 12 months prior to the deadline).

It’s worth de-mystifying some EU-speak which may put potential applicants off: an “experienced researcher” just means a researcher with a PhD or at least four years full-time research experience (measured from the date when a researcher obtained the degree which would formally entitle him or her to embark on a doctorate). It’s also worth emphasizing that the Marie Curie Fellowships are “bottom up”, meaning any research discipline is eligible to apply, including sciences, engineering, social sciences and humanities.

What does it offer?

All three different Fellowships provide an attractive salary (approx €58K for researchers with <10 years experience; €87K for those with >10 years experience), a monthly mobility allowance to facilitate relocation (€700/month without a family, €1000/month with a family), a flat-rate contribution to research and training expenses (€800/month), as well as a contribution to overheads for the host department (€700/month).

Note that most of these amounts (except the research and training expenses) are subject to modification by a “correction coefficient”, which essentially means that they’re adjusted in line with living costs in the host country. So for fellows in the UK, the amounts are revised up by a factor of 1.34. The full list of rates and correction coefficients are given in the People Work Programme, Tables 3.2 and 3.3, at the end of the document.

How does the application process work?

The proposed fellow applies in conjunction with an EU host organisation (e.g. a university). The application is completed online on the EU Participant Portal and consists of two parts: Part A contains the basic administrative information including the proposal title, abstract, proposed evaluation panel, host institution, financial details, and some details about the researcher; Part B is where the applicant must detail the research proposal, training programme, researcher CV and achievements, implementation, and impact. Note that these sections are closely linked to the evaluation criteria, summarised below.

Potential applicants and hosts should carefully read the relevant Guidance for Applicants notes available on the call pages linked above. This provides a step-by-step guide to the completion and submission of the application and also gives full details on the evaluation process and timetable.

Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of five criteria: “Science and Technological” Quality (i.e. “research excellence” in RCUK-speak, and note that this doesn’t preclude applications from social sciences or humanities – this constitutes 25% of the overall mark); Training (15%); Researcher (25%); Implementation (15%); and Impact (20%). Each of these elements has a different weighting and individual threshold score and there is an overall quality threshold for the full application.

What next?

Northumbria staff are encouraged to think about whether you know any researchers outside of the UK who may be a potential candidate for these Fellowships and to contact the relevant Research Funding Manager in RBS at an early stage to start developing a bid. If you’re interested in applying for an outgoing fellowship to a host institution elsewhere in the EU (or globally) you should speak to your line manager and research lead as soon as possible to discuss practicalities and arrangements for the return phase, if relevant.

In addition, we intend to hold a briefing workshop for applicants interested in Marie Curie Fellowships in the near future and more details about this will follow on the blog and via email.