Funding success for Loughborough University London early career academics

Over the summer, three successful competitive funding awards were announced for early career academics at Loughborough University London.

Dr Varuna de Silva from the Institute for Digital Technologies was awarded an EPSRC New Investigator Award. This is only the fifth EPSRC New Investigator Award to have been received by a Loughborough University academic since its launch in July 2017.

Dr de Silva will receive £258,875 for his two-year project called MIMIc: Multimodal Imitation Learning in MultI-Agent Environments. The project will be undertaken in partnership with Chelsea Football Club Academy. Using Artificial Intelligence, the project will answer "what-if" questions related to game play in football, assisting coaching staff to visualize speculative game strategies, and as a computational benchmark to quantify the cognitive skills of football players.

Two pilot projects have also been awarded funding from the BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants 2019, a highly competitive funding scheme with only an average success rate of 15%.

Dr Ling Zhang from the Institute for International Management was awarded circa £10,000 for her 17 month project called Gender and identity in a turbulent space and time: A social network study of diplomats and diplomatic spouses. In collaboration with a partner from Uppsala University in Sweden, Dr Zhang will investigate how an extreme form of transnational employment – that is, diplomatic assignments – impacts on gender and identity from a social network perspective.

Dr Steve Swanson from the Institute for Sport Business was awarded £10,000 for his 14 month project called The Impact of Foreign Ownership on Community and Club Identity: A Case Study of Leyton Orient FC. In collaboration with the Institute for Sport Business’ Professor James Skinner and Professor Aaron Smith, Dr Swanson will investigate the impact of foreign ownership on football communities in the UK. The idea is that this case study of Leyton Orient FC, which has experienced two recent foreign owners, will serve as a pilot and set the groundwork for a larger, more comprehensive study in the future.

Speaking about this summer of success, Professor Jo Tacchi, Associate Dean for Research said:

“We have a talented group of academics at Loughborough University London and these three projects serve to showcase just some of the interesting spread of disciplinary expertise, partnerships and applications that colleagues are engaged in. We can celebrate this success in the certain knowledge that these three academics, who are still in the early stages of their academic careers, will use the opportunity research funding presents to develop excellent and impactful research.”

Professor Tony Edwards, Dean for Loughborough University London added:

“I am delighted at these successes. Research within Loughborough University London is thriving and the commitment of funding from outside bodies to the ideas of our colleagues is just the latest indication of this.”