University of St Andrews awarded £600k for research

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A world-leading planetary scientist, a globally-respected ecologist and a leading academic in contemporary British media from the University of St Andrews have been awarded research funding totalling more than £620,000 from the prestigious Leverhulme Trust.

Professor Anne Magurran, from the Centre of Biological Diversity at the School of Biology, has been awarded a total of £301,913 in research funding from the Leverhulme Trust for her project Darwin, Wallace, Bates and biodiversity change in the Anthropocene.

The project will draw on the neglected insights of Victorian naturalists regarding the structure and dynamics of ecological communities. This will allow researchers to develop a new framework of biodiversity change that addresses the important challenges of understanding how the world’s ecosystems are being reconfigured during the Anthropocene.

Dr Claire Cousins, a senior lecturer in Earth sciences at the Centre for Exoplanet Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant to investigate signs of microbial life trapped within unusual salt deposits collected from an Arctic hypersaline spring that shares a similar chemistry to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.

Dr Cousins will work with colleagues Dr Aubrey Zerkle and Dr Mark Fox-Powell, and co-investigators at the University of Glasgow, alongside the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre, to further understand of how we might one day be able to search for evidence of life preserved in salt minerals on the Europan crust using future landed spacecraft.

Dr Chandrika Kaul, reader in Modern History, has been awarded a prestigious Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship worth over £124,000. Dr Kaul’s research specialism encompasses British imperial, south Asian and media history. Her forthcoming monograph is a major and innovative study of the BBC and India which breaks new ground and will be published by OUP, Oxford.