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STFC invests in next generation of science leaders

26 Apr 2021

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has awarded £5.7 million of funding to support the next generation of science leaders. The Ernest Rutherford Fellowships are awarded to early career researchers who have leadership potential in their chosen field. The five-year funding allows talented researchers without an academic position to establish an independent research programme.

This year’s fellows will conduct cutting edge research in a number of areas of science, including:

  • experimental and theoretical particle physics
  • astrophysics
  • cosmology.

Aims of the project

The projects aim to answer some of the most fundamental questions in science and push the boundaries of current understanding, such as:

  • what is the universe made of and how did it first come into being?
  • is there a fifth force that exists beyond the Standard Model?
  • what is dark matter?
  • why is there an imbalance between matter and antimatter in the universe?
  • how do we discover more Earth-like planets?

Our early career scientists

Science Minister Amanda Solloway, said:

In a year which has shown the life-saving importance of science as we tackle COVID-19, we must capitalise on this innovative spirit and equip our most ambitious early career scientists with the tools they need to become the next generation of leaders in their field.

From understanding dark matter, to exploring the habitability of the solar system, these inspiring fellows we are backing today will help us to solve crucial unanswered questions about the universe, all while cementing the UK’s status as a science superpower.

Expanding our understanding

Professor Mark Thomson, Executive Chair of STFC, said:

STFC aims to support outstanding scientists at an early stage of their career, and through these prestigious fellowships these 10 talented researchers can realise their ambitious aspirations.

Fellowships are integral to the UK’s scientific landscape, providing a system by which some of the most driven and innovative minds can pursue an independent research agenda. Each of these scientists has the potential to drive forward current practices and expand our understanding of the universe.

Since 2011, 94% of fellows secured a permanent position after their fellowship had ended. In the last seven years, 92% of fellows remained in the UK after their fellowship had ended.

Source: Science and Technology Facilities Council –