Future Leaders Fellowships are highly competitive and were established by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to develop the next wave of world-class researchers and innovation leaders. The Fellowship funding is up to four years for Fellows to tackle ambitious and challenging research questions, with the option to apply for a further three years beyond this.

The University of Bath is delighted that two academic staff have been awarded Future Leaders Fellowships (FLFs) from UKRI in 7th round which had a total fund of £100 million.

Dr Yixian Sun, Department of Social & Policy Sciences in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, and Dr Min Pan, Department of Mechanical Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering & Design, have both been awarded Future Leaders Fellowships. Both are within the research area of Sustainability, a strategic institutional research theme at the University of Bath, providing a supportive research culture for the Fellows to develop their impactful and influence research.

Dr Yixian Sun was awarded £1.6 million to investigate the processes through which Chinese investments influence development in developing countries to unpack China’s growing global influence. Particular focus will be on the energy and transportation sectors, which are important overseas investment areas for China, and their large-scale environmental and social impact. Dr Sun says:

I am thrilled to receive the prestigious UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship to advance the knowledge on sustainability governance of China's overseas infrastructure programme. The grant will allow me to build an international and multidisciplinary team to conduct in-depth research and engage with various stakeholders in Asia and beyond. Our work will ultimately inform policy practitioners across the globe of pathways to sustainable investments. I am grateful to many colleagues and collaborators who helped me in the application process and look forward to using the fellowship to produce impactful research.

Dr Min Pan’s £2.3 million Future Leaders Fellowship will enable her to tackle the challenge of high CO2 emissions from hydraulic fluid power transmission systems in off-road vehicles. She will develop smart digital hydraulic fluid power technologies to deliver green energy technologies for the future. These are expected to increase hydraulic energy efficiency from its current average of 21% to over 90% and significantly decarbonise off-road vehicles. Dr Pan says:

I am delighted and humbled that I have been awarded a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship. Through the Fellowship, I aim to revolutionize the landscape of sustainable transportation. The FLF enables me to open new avenues for pioneering solutions that can significantly reduce carbon emissions and pave the way for a cleaner and more efficient future in off-road vehicle technology. With this momentum, I am poised to conduct fundamental research, drive innovation, catalyse positive change, and contribute significantly to the global effort for a greener tomorrow. Thanks to RIS for supporting the application.

Kirsty Grainger, Acting Director of Research and Innovation Services (RIS), recently joined us from UKRI where she was the inaugural Director of UKRI’s flagship Future Leaders Fellowship scheme. Kirsty says:

Congratulations to both awardees and to the network of colleagues and collaborators that helped shaped their applications. I know how much work goes into the application and assessment of these incredible Fellowships. Within RIS I would especially like to thank the Research Development and Pre-Award teams who, over a 15-month process, have supported the selection, development, coaching, response, and interview preparation for the Fellows. I look forward to seeing how transformative these awards will be for the individuals, their team and the research and innovation that they are supporting.

Professor Sarah Hainsworth OBE, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Bath, says:

It is fantastic news for the University to be awarded two Future Leaders Fellowships from UKRI, which recognises and supports the talent of our Early Career Researchers, as they develop the rising stars of research and innovation from the brightest and best in the world.

The Research Development team in Research and Innovation Services (RIS) supports academic staff to secure grant funding and achieve their ambitions.