Six researchers have been awarded funding in the first ever APEX awards, recognising the interdisciplinary nature of research.

Engineering structures in space inspired by bone tissue and finding out how readily people will drink recycled wastewater are amongst the recognised projects.

Dr Kate Robson Brown, Professor Robert Field and Dr Marilina Cesario.

Dr Kate Robson Brown from the University of Bristol has been awarded funding to research how bones respond to stress during growth and development. Collaborating with the NASA Ames Research Centre, the findings will be used in a pilot study to design an engineering structure that could be manufactured and deployed in space.

Other projects recognised in the inaugural funding awards include the study of public reactions to the reuse of rainwater for human consumption by Professor Robert Field, University of Oxford, and whether medieval understandings of the universe can be used to provide clues on the elusive ‘Planet Nine’, a project led by Dr Marilina Cesario, Queen’s University Belfast.

Through the investigation of mathematical models of the financial sector, Professor Rama Cont from Imperial College London will look at the development of new insights into the monitoring and regulation of systematic risk, and Dave Goulson, University of Sussex, will explore the impact of pesticides on pollinators and people in urban areas.

Professor Stuart Murray from the University of Leeds will examine the relationship between disability and the design and use of prosthetics to develop more inclusive design and production methods.

Professor Rama Cont, Dave Goulson and Professor Stuart Murray.

The APEX award scheme offers up to £100,000 to established independent researchers wanting to pursue interdisciplinary and curiosity-driven research that benefits wider society. The grants, which promote collaboration science, engineering, social sciences and humanities, are jointly awarded by the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society, funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

The objectives of the two-year scheme are:

  • support outstanding interdisciplinary research which is unlikely to be supported through conventional funding programmes 
  • promote collaboration across disciplines, with a particular emphasis on the boundary between science and engineering and the social sciences and humanities
  • support researchers with an outstanding track record, in developing their research in a new direction through collaboration with partners from other disciplines
  • enable outstanding researchers to focus on advancing their innovative research through seed funding.

The next round of APEX awards are due to open on 1 November 2017.