UofG nuclear researchers receive prestigious UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships

Published: 4 December 2023

Two UofG academics have been awarded prestigious UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Leaders Fellowships, for impactful research into nuclear decommissioning, and nuclear arms control and disarmament.

Two academics from the University of Glasgow have been awarded prestigious UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Leaders Fellowships, for impactful research into nuclear decommissioning, and nuclear arms control and disarmament.

Dr Joy Farnaby of the College of Science and Engineering, and Dr Rhys Crilley, of the College of Social Sciences, received a combined total of £2.3 million in funding from UKRI.

Dr Joy Farnaby, of the School of Chemistry, was awarded £1.2 million to address nuclear industry technical challenges and underlying knowledge gaps in fundamental actinide (uranium and plutonium) chemistry, critical to the management of the UK’s civil plutonium inventory.

This award is in partnership with Sellafield Ltd, the National Nuclear Laboratory, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, and the Dalton Cumbria Facility of the University of Manchester.

Her work aims to provide cutting-edge chemical and physical understanding of actinide reactivity and structure-property relationships. In partnership with key stakeholders, these data will ultimately contribute to the scientific evidence base for UK government decision-making on future inventory management.

Dr Farnaby said, “I have always wanted to use my expertise to drive in an applied direction, which was scientifically rewarding and with genuine potential to contribute beyond academia, and working with the nuclear industry on plutonium management provides me with both the opportunity and a mandate to do so. The award of the Future Leaders Fellowship has the potential to be career-defining for me, and to enable the realisation of transformative science with demonstrated impact in nuclear decommissioning, achieved through working in partnership with key stakeholders in the nuclear industry. I would like to thank all my internal and external colleagues for their support, which has made this success possible.”

Dr Rhys Crilley, of the School of Social and Political Sciences, received £1.1 million to examine how nuclear arms control and disarmament efforts can be developed to reduce and avert the risk of nuclear conflict, in a time of rising tension between nuclear weapon states.

His project will investigate how the legitimacy of nuclear weapons is communicated and contested, and explore ways that the risk of nuclear war can be mitigated through improving nuclear arms control and disarmament advocacy and mechanisms, so that they gain more international support.

Dr Crilley said: “I'm delighted to have been awarded a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship to address one of the most pressing global challenges of our time. Nuclear weapons are once again at the fore of public attention, and it often seems like there is nothing we can do to reduce the risk of nuclear conflict. This fellowship will enable me to lead a team of world class experts based here at the University of Glasgow to conduct research across the globe so we can develop innovative solutions to the nuclear crises of today.

“Significantly, the fellowship also makes it possible to work with policymakers and advocacy organisations in order to make nuclear arms control and disarmament measures more effective.”

UKRI’s flagship Future Leaders Fellowships allow universities and businesses to develop their most talented early career researchers and innovators and to attract new people to their organisations, including from overseas.

Fellowships have been awarded to 75 promising research leaders, who will benefit from £101 million to tackle major global issues and to commercialise their innovations in the UK.

First published: 4 December 2023