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St Andrews Academics Honoured by the Royal Society of Edinburgh

Updated: Mar 9

Seven academics from the University of St Andrews have been awarded research grants by the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE). The scholars, who were among 60 other academics listed, will make use of £727,752.71 bestowed upon them by the RSE.  

Awarded twice a year, the RSE “aims to support Scotland’s research sector by nurturing promising talent, stimulating research in Scotland, and promoting international collaboration.” 

Dr Katrin Ackermann (School of Chemistry) and Dr Catherine Hobaiter (School of Psychology and Neuroscience) were awarded International Joint Projects, where they will work with academics from Germany and the United States. Ackermann will partner with Dr Andreas Meyer from the Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences for their research Cu(II)-19F distance measurements using electron nuclear double resonance spectroscopy for structural biology, while Hobaiter will work with Professor Nathaniel Dominy of Dartmouth College for their project Fire festivals and the collective entrainment of crowds.

Talking to The Saint, Dr Ackermann spoke about the benefits and challenges of an International Joint Project. 

“There are currently no experts for the EPR technique essential for the proposed project in the UK, therefore it is important to team up with academics across borders to gain the required expertise, which will eventually benefit St Andrews and the wider UK EPR community.”

“The international joint project for which we have been awarded funding by the RSE is due to start in spring this year, and I am optimistic that the benefits of working with an academic across borders will by far outweigh any challenges.”

Drs Bernhard Blumenau and Nicholas Barnes of the School of International Relations were awarded Personal Research Fellowships, which allow academics to take a temporary research leave from their institution. As well as funding the salary of their replacement member of staff, fellowships also provide financial backing for the academic’s research.

Dr Bernhard Blumenau commented about what being awarded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh meant to him.

“I think, essentially, being awarded the research fellowship means two things to me. Firstly, it allows me to concentrate on researching and writing my book, which is, of course, a fantastic opportunity.”

“Secondly, it also means that the topic is deemed important. There is considerable current focus in the field on non-state actors and issues surrounding them, such as radicalisation and extremism — which are certainly important. However, we are also witnessing a trend towards more authoritarian regimes globally. Understanding how and why states resort to terror is vital in, hopefully, mitigating some of these developments. After all, the victims of state terror number in the millions, vastly overshadowing the casualties of non-state terrorism. It is, therefore, an important topic to study, and I'm grateful that the RSE has given me the opportunity to do so.”

Dr Tyler Parks (School of Philosophical Anthropological & Film Studies) and Dr Craig Smeaton (School of Geography and Sustainable Development) were awarded small grants for their projects. Dr Parks’ research is titled Infrastructural cinema and the remaking of the American West: filmmaking at the United States Bureau of Reclamation, 1930 to 1965, while Dr Smeaton will work on the project The time before trawling: a baseline study of seabed carbon storage.

Dr Morven Shearer, the Director of the Graduate School for Interdisciplinary Studies and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Medicine, was awarded a Research Collaboration Grant. This will see him work with Dr Bethany Whiteside, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and Professor Sara Houston, University of Roehampton, for their research Methods in movement: Dance for Health Scotland Research Network.

Photo by the University of St Andrews

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