University of Bristol: Research communities led by Bristol awarded GW4 funding

The GW4 Building Communities Generator Award enables both new and existing groups across the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter to collaborate and address new research or societal challenges.

Dr Eleni Toumpanaki at Bristol’s Department of Civil Engineering is project lead on the circular economy of timber buildings.This community will assess key barriers and opportunities in the circular economy of timber buildings in the UK.

She said: “The benefits of biogenic carbon storage together with a renewable supply chain mean that greater use of timber, and other plant-based materials, in construction is essential if the UK is to meet its net zero carbon targets by 2050.

“Our GW4 interdisciplinary research community will investigate the full potential of British-grown timber in the design of affordable and low-energy housing exploring current and future trends, such as climate change, in a systems thinking approach.”

Dr James Hodge of Bristol’s School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience heads up the Epilepsy Community, a multi-disciplinary group working together to improve understanding of epilepsies through enhanced research, modelling, diagnosis and treatment.

Dr Hodge explained: “Epilepsy is the most common primary neurological disorder worldwide, with 10% of people experiencing a seizure during their life. The formation of our collaborative research community is unique in that we will bring together for the first time a critical mass of researchers in the South West to overcome current hurdles in the diagnosis and cure of epilepsy.”

Dr Jennifer Johns of Bristol’s School of Management is project lead of the Technology-Enabled Circularity (TEC): Digitalisation and Sustainability in Manufacturing, an interdisciplinary network bringing together expertise in digital manufacturing and circular economies to build more sustainable manufacturing futures.

She commented: “Despite the potentially significant contribution of existing and emerging knowledge of technological solutions to sustainability, and circularity in particular, there is clear need for more academic work that engages and unifies across the two areas.

“Thanks to this funding award from GW4, we aim to deepen our academic understandings and integrate perspectives from across the social sciences and STEM in a truly interdisciplinary network to help meet industry and policy demand for potential solutions to social and economic problems.”

Other projects in the G4W community to benefit from funding are antibiotic-resistance genes, understanding occupational stress, net zero travel and insight into agricultural azole fungicide in arable farmlands in the Southwest of England.

Now in its third year, the Generator Award is intended to be a springboard for these communities to apply for external grants.

GW4 Alliance Director Dr Joanna Jenkinson MBE said: “The Generator Award is a core part of GW4’s commitment to build research communities at scale and across a breadth of capabilities in order to will deliver a step change in research that could not be achieved by one of the institutions alone.

“I’m delighted to announce funding for these seven research communities, opening up opportunities for new interdisciplinary collaborations.”

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