European Crucible 2022 programme launches for the Scottish cohort

Twenty-three of the twenty-five Scottish Cruciblists; guest speakers Prof Rory Duncan and Stuart Fancey; host Vivienne Parry; European Crucible directors Dr Ruth Neiland and Prof Alan Miller, and coordinator, Dr Natasha Nicholson.

The second year of the prestigious European Crucible programme for “research leaders of the future” has commenced with two virtual events for Scottish researchers focused on international collaboration and UK research strategy.

European Crucible aims to bring together outstanding researchers from different disciplines, institutions and countries to stimulate new interdisciplinary research collaborations between Scottish and European researchers.  The first online events were jointly chaired by writer and broadcaster, Vivienne Parry OBE and by Prof Alan Miller FRSE from SUPA  SUPA | Physics Scotland | Scottish Universities Physics Alliance. They featured an intensive programme of research presentations and interactive networking activities, with participants also engaging with notable keynote speakers, namely:

  • Simon Andrews, Executive Director of Fraunhofer UK Research Ltd;
  • Prof Sir Ian Boyd, former Chief Scientific Adviser at DEFRA and current Chair of the UK Research Integrity Office;
  • Prof Rory Duncan, Director of Talent and Skills, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI);
  • Dr Stuart Fancey, Director of Research and Innovation, Scottish Funding Council;
  • Prof Julie Fitzpatrick, Scientific Director of the Moredun Research Institute and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Scottish Government;
  • Prof Jaime Toney, co-Director of the Centre for Sustainable Solutions, University of Glasgow.

Reflecting on her experiences of European collaboration and meeting the Scottish cohort of European Crucible, Prof Julie Fitzpatrick OBE said:

“Research links between Scotland and the EU have long been the platform for some fantastic collaborations, with EU funding supporting multi- and inter-disciplinary research that truly crosses boundaries. Research and innovation is all about partnerships, and European Crucible provides an opportunity for Scottish researchers to make those critical contacts that will establish research programmes for the future. It was great to see this in action at a virtual European Crucible Lab!”

The cohort of just 25 talented researchers from Scotland were competitively chosen to undertake European Crucible 2022. They represent diverse academic disciplines and are based at 12 different Universities and research institutes across Scotland.  Four of this year’s cohort are from Heriot-Watt University – Dr Karen Anne Alexander, Assistant Professor at the International Centre for Island Technology, Orkney; Dr Heidi Burdett, Associate Professor, Lyell Centre, Edinburgh; Dr Mel McKendrick, Assistant Professor in Psychology and CEO of Optomize Ltd; and Dr Ryan Pereira, Associate Professor Lyell Centre, Edinburgh. Commenting on her experience of European Crucible, Dr Mel McKendrick said:

“In the first couple of European Crucible meetings I have been truly inspired by the synergies between several of the other delegates’ work and my own. This has already helped to generate new ideas and ways of working with people. I am so excited to see what the next set of labs will offer as we meet other Crucible researchers from Europe”. 

European Crucible 2022 (supported by Scottish Government via the SFC Saltire initiative), is organised jointly by SUPA and the Research Futures Academy at Heriot-Watt University on behalf of all Scottish Research Pools and in partnership with CentraleSupélec, France. The next stages of European Crucible 2022 will see a further 25 researchers from across Europe join the cohort to complete the programme with their counterparts from Scotland.