Medical Research Council (MRC)
The Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) is an interdisciplinary centre leading cutting-edge research into solutions to problems of environmental change. Based on the University's Penryn Campus, in Cornwall, our world class research and education is enhancing people's lives by improving their relationships with the environment. ESI provides insight and solutions, at local to global scales, to meet the challenges of securing a sustainable future in an era of unprecedented environmental and societal change.
Our highly successful and collaborative institute is the perfect location for independent research fellows. We have a reputation for effectively hosting fellowships funded through UK, European, and international schemes (including NERC, BBSRC, Leverhulme Trust, Marie Curie, and others) with support offered at all stages of the process. Some of our previous independent fellows have gone on to become permanent members of academic staff in the Institute and their respective Colleges.
To find out more about how the ESI helps to develop early career researchers through interdisciplinarity, please see our ECR webpage.
Fellowship applicants interested in joining the ESI should contact Mark Plummer (ESI Senior Administrator) in the first instance to discuss their proposed project and proposed source of funding. We also welcome enquiries from existing fellowship holders interested in transferring to the ESI. Please include a full academic CV.
Support we can offer you:
- Advice on scheme suitability and proposal writing from our many successful fellows and research support staff.
- Review of draft proposals.
- Support in developing, costing and submitting your application
- Assistance with interview preparation.
- 1:1 mentoring from senior colleagues from across multiple disciplines.
- Peer support from our Early Career Researcher network.
- Opportunities (but no obligation) to gain teaching experience and to supervise BSc, MSc, MRes, and PhD project students.
- Training and personal development.
- Support for grant proposal development from senior colleagues and research support staff.
- Access to our network of stakeholders, policy makers, businesses and NGOs across Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and beyond.
- Links to over 200 academics at the University of Exeter studying environment and sustainability futures in our Institutes and Centres of Excellence.
- Access to the University’s excellent Research Services and Innovation, Impact and Business directorates.
- Clear criteria for progression to permanent positions.
- Opportunities for proleptic appointments.
Prof Edze Westra
In 2015, Edze Westra applied for a NERC independent research fellowship, which enabled him to build his own research team in the ESI, focussed on how ecological variables shape bacteria-phage interactions. The application was peer reviewed internally by ESI and CLES academics, who subsequently also offered interview training - all of which was critical for successfully securing the funding, which marked the start of his own independent research trajectory.
The state-of-the-art facilities for microbiology research at the ESI, and the thriving and collaborative research environment at the Penryn campus where the ESI is based, meant that Westra could rapidly develop a team of around 14 scientists, who perform cutting-edge research aimed at understanding the evolutionary ecology of bacterial resistance mechanisms that protect against phage infections.
Dr Anne Leonard
I was awarded a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Industrial Innovation Fellowship in 2017 to investigate catchment-scale processes that contribute to the transmission of antibiotic resistant bacteria in coastal bathing waters. The University of Exeter has a strong reputation for conducting pioneering, high-quality research in both environmental and medical sciences, and the state-of-the-art laboratories at the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) offer superb facilities for the microbiological components of my research.
Being based in the ESI and the European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH) in Truro, I have easy access to a vibrant and supportive research environment, which brings together professional services, world-class facilities, and leading academics in a variety of disciplines conducting cutting-edge investigations into issues concerning environmental change and human health. These supported me through the process of applying for a fellowship, and have continued to support me to conduct my research. I am delighted to have been offered a proleptic lectureship by the Medical School, and I am excited to continue working here following the successful completion of my fellowship.
Dr Sarah Crowley
I joined the ESI to carry out my PhD research in 2013 and am a member of Prof Robbie McDonald’s Wildlife Science research group. I specialise in applying social research methods to contemporary conservation and environmental management issues, and particularly the management of introduced, re-introduced, and domestic species. I currently lead the social scientific components of an interdisciplinary project that works with cat owners to find effective, sustainable techniques to reduce hunting behaviour in domestic cats, without compromising cat welfare.
My background and training is in biosciences, geography and anthropology and my research spans and speaks to multiple academic disciplines. Being based in the ESI has allowed me to work closely with natural scientists (who make up the majority of my research group) while continuing to connect with and learn from my social science colleagues. It’s also enabled me to learn about research areas very different from my own and to establish collaborations and friendships with academics outside of my field(s), something I have really come to value. The ESI welcomes the often challenging interdisciplinary projects I have been working on and has provided great support in hosting and promoting our domestic cat project, which has involved extensive public participation. From March 2020 I will move into a lectureship at the University’s Centre for Geography and Environmental Science (CGES), another collegiate, interdisciplinary community with close links to the ESI, from which I can continue to work closely with colleagues and collaborators through the ESI’s Academic Affiliate scheme.
PDr Stineke van Houte
I am a BBSRC Future Leader Fellow who aims to develop new methods to eradicate genes encoding antibiotic resistance from microbial communities. Getting a fellowship is not easy, but the University of Exeter has given me truly outstanding support to help me obtain one. They helped with preparing the budget, and I also got detailed and constructive feedback on my proposal from a number of academics who kindly offered to read my proposal.
Furthermore, I’ve greatly benefitted from the support I got from University with fellowship interview preparations. Being based of the ESI has given me the tremendous advantage of being part of a vibrant and highly interdisciplinary group of researchers who share the vision of working towards a more sustainable future, and being able to share a state of the art lab with a team of world-class and highly collaborative microbiologists.
Dr Aimee Murray
The University of Exeter Medical School were incredibly supportive of my Fellowship application, by including the offer of a proleptic lectureship in their letter of support to the funders. As I had just handed in my PhD thesis at the time, I know this was very important as it de-risked my application by showing I had strong support from my host institution. More widely in the university and the European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH), both research services and my mentors were extremely supportive in helping me navigate the application process.
I really like being based in the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) as the community offers a broad range of expertise in not only microbiology, but in so many diverse research areas. As I work on antimicrobial resistance in the environment, the breadth of sustainability research being conducted here is brilliant for broadening my horizons. I feel like there is a real, joint mindset in the ESI of trying to use research to make real world change, which is rewarding and great to be part of.