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Early Career Researcher Network (ECRN) Enhancement Awards 2024 - NOW CLOSED

ECRN Awards 2024

Early Career Researcher Network (ECRN) Enhancement Funding – Now closed.

Background: The Researcher Development and Research Culture team has funding from Research England to support the development and enhancement of research culture related activities across the University of Exeter. 

Purpose: The ECRN Enhancement Awards provide funding for current ECRNs to enhance their activities, promote their activities or re-establish network activities. The awards are also available to create new ECRNs in or across departments/faculties that do not yet have an established ECRN (please check that an ECRN does not already exist (ECRN webpages). These awards are not for the establishment or development of PGR only networks.  

Criteria: The awards are offered to support events, workshops and initiatives e.g., speakers/facilitators and learning and development resources. Lead applicant must be an Early Career Researcher associated with an existing ECRN or wanting to establish an ECRN. For the purposes of this award an ECR is a researcher on an ‘R’ only contract grades E-G inclusive. 

The awarding panel are looking for creative and innovative bids that have a lasting impact. Proposed events can by delivered via hybrid, remote and face-to-face activities, but when running any form of face-to-face activity.

For those who received an award in 2023, you will need to clearly show in your application how your initiative builds upon what you did last time; it cannot be a repeat of your previous activities. All applications will need to clearly articulate your plan as to how the network will be developed beyond the activities related to the award. Although the award can support a social or community-building element, the bulk of the funding must be focused on learning and development activities and will need to align with one or more of the following themes:  

  • Creating routes for collaboration and exchange with businesses, third sector organisations and government;  
  • Career development at all stages;  
  • Improving research conduct and reproducibility; 
  • Improving research leadership skills; 
  • Furthering open research practices; 
  • Delivering new approaches to public dialogue and community-led research;
  • Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in research; 
  • Fostering collegiality and building research communities.

We have collated a series of FAQs - ECRN Enhancement Fund for any applicant who may have questions about the process or what the money can be spent on.   

You must consider the below when applying: 

  1. The proposed activities must directly benefit parties beyond the named applicants, fully reflecting the beneficiaries detailed in the application.  
  2. You will be required to provide details on how you propose for the project to have a long term impact. E.g. producing accompanying resources, guidance, establishing a committee etc.  
  3. Successful applicants must agree to fulfil the responsibilities outlined in the Award Holders Responsibilities which includes taking full responsibility for managing the financial demands of the award. Full details can be found on the How To Guide. 
  4. You will be required to evaluate your activity, provide a short-written report in the style of a blog and send it to the Researcher Development & Research Culture Team:  
  5. Funding for internal room bookings, travel to conferences, equipment (including IT) or individual professional development are outside the scope of this funding.   

Number of initiatives and value of award: Funding is available from a pool of £12,500 (maximum of £3,125 per award).

  1. The funding must have been spent by Friday28th June 2024, for example: Goods/services received  (pre-payment for goods/services received after the cut-off date is not eligible) and receipted  (on T1).
  2. Travel undertaken prior to this date (prepayment for later travel is not eligible).
  3. Consultancy payments made (for work undertaken within the funding period).

Administrative Support: 

  1. The RD&RC team will be in a position to provide some administrative support for the duration of the award. You will need to identify, on your application form, the maximum number of administrative hours you believe you will need. If your application is successful, you will be notified of your time allocation.  
  2. You will need to build into your planning how you will manage any administrative tasks that fall outside of the allocation you are given. 


ECRN Enhancement Awards 2024 - Winners Announcement 

The ECRN Enhancement Awards 2024 have been allocated, and we are delighted to announce this year’swinners. These awards aim to support the development and enhancement of Early Career Researcher Networks (ECRNs) at the University of Exeter. The selected projects have demonstrated outstanding contributions to fostering collaboration, career development, research culture, and community-building within the ECR community. Congratulations to the following winners: 

1. Biomedical Sciences ECRN and PGR Network Launch - Dr Sophie Walker 

2. ECR Network Event: Empowering ECRs, Building Connections - Dr Melika Janbakhsh 

3. Inspiration, Reflection & Action: Career Event for Geography Early Career Researchers - Dr Nina Lindstrom Friggens 

4. ECR Symposium and Research Skills Seminars - Dr Dimitar Vlaykov 

5. Establishing the Penryn Marine ECRN - Dr Chris Kerry 

6. Future of AI - Dr Cédric Mesnage 

7. Participatory Research - Building the Network - Dr Catherine Broomfield 

These winning proposals for the ECRN Enhancement Awards 2024 demonstrate exceptional efforts in supporting the objectives of enhancing and building the Early Career Research Networks. We congratulate the award holders and look forward to witnessing the positive impact of their projects on the ECR community. 

The 2024 winners: 

Biomedical Sciences ECRN and PGR Network Launch 

ECRN: Biomedical Sciences  

Award Holder: Dr Sophie Walker  

This project supports the development of an Early Career Researchers (ECR) community in the Department of Clinical and Biomedical Sciences (DCBS). Dr Sophie Walker's project aims to provide opportunities for ECR peers to collaboratively explore the current ECR and Postgraduate Research (PGR) landscape in DCBS and the Medical School. By co-designing the ECRN based on the needs and aspirations of the community, the project seeks to establish a resilient peer-support and shared learning network. 

Empowering ECRs, building connections 

ECRN: Psychology 

Award Holder: Dr Melika Janbakhsh

Dr. Melika Janbakhsh's project aims to revitalise the existing ECR network within the Psychology department. By organising an ECR-led event, the project seeks to create a safe and supportive space for ECRs to openly discuss common challenges faced in their careers. The event will feature speakers from various career stages, fostering an inclusive environment where all participants can share their experiences and insights. This initiative aligns with the University's Research Culture policy and Concordat commitments, promoting collaboration and exploration of career opportunities. 

Inspiration, reflection & action: Career event for Geography Early Career Researchers 

ECRN: Geography 

Award Holder: Dr Nina Lindstrom Friggens 

Dr. Nina Lindstrom Friggens' project aims to guide the Geography ECR community in exploring various career paths through a two-day career event. The event will provide inspiration on day one, allowing participants to reflect on their career aspirations and take action on day two. By facilitating career planning and fostering connections beyond academia, this project aims to support career development, establish valuable contacts, and nurture collegiality within the community. 

ECR Symposium and Research skills seminars  

ECRN: Mathematics & Statistics 

Award Holder: Dr Dimitar Vlaykov 

Dr. Dimitar Vlaykov's project supports the newly established ECRN for Mathematics and Statistics by organising a series of monthly research coffee-and-seminar sessions. These sessions will culminate in a one-day research and career development symposium for ECRs. The symposium aims to encourage cross-group interaction among ECRs, offer field-specific talks on career development and research skills, and foster collegiality within the department. The event will provide ECRs with an opportunity to present their research to a broader mathematics community and identify key challenges they face. 

Establishing the Penryn Marine ECRN 

ECRN: Penryn Marine  

Award Holder: Dr Chris Kerry 

Dr. Chris Kerry's project aims to bring together satellite groups of Marine ECRs across disciplines and faculties at Penryn Campus. The project will organise interactive sessions and a networking event focused on career progression and showcasing ECR research. By fostering engagement, building a cohesive community, and enhancing research and employability skills, this initiative will contribute to a more connected and supportive network. 

Future of AI 

ECRN: IDSAI (Institute for Data Science and AI)  

Award Holder: Dr Cédric Mesnage 

Dr. Cédric Mesnage's project focuses on the IDSAI ECRN community and aims to create an interdisciplinary space for innovation and collaboration in the field of AI. The project proposes an event on the Future of AI, featuring a keynote, guest speakers, informal discussions, an online industrial panel, and a presentation of funding opportunities. By facilitating knowledge sharing, collaborative funding, and exploration of new research areas, this project aims to advance AI research within the ECRN. 

Participatory research – building the network 


Award Holder: Dr Catherine Broomfield 

Dr. Catherine Broomfield's project aims to reinvigorate the HASS ECRN by focusing on developing researcher knowledge of participatory research methods. The project will emphasise the use of arts and creative technologies to engage and involve non-academic stakeholders and community members. By promoting participation and collaboration, this initiative seeks to enhance the ECRN's impact and its connection with the broader community. 

The 2023 winners of the ECRN Enhancement Awards are as follows: 

ECR Mentoring Scheme  

ECRN: Centre for Ecology & Conservation (CEC) ECRN – Penryn 

Award Holder: Dr David Baker 


Supporting the launch of a new mentoring scheme for all Early Career Researchers at CEC with the aim of providing support, advice and guidance on career and research development and progression; personal effectiveness; funding strategies; improvement of research conduct; leadership and research impact. 

Early Career Researcher Conference Day 2023

ECRN: Department of Community and Health Sciences 

Award Holder: Dr Rebecca Whear 


Supporting the combined development of new and pre-existing Early Career Networks within the new established Faculty through a collaborative hybrid day event. This collaborative effort will develop networking skills and leadership knowledge, focus on personal development, wellbeing and provide a space where networkers and researchers come together to share experiences, identify future network activities and share their hopes for the networks going forward. 

ECR week at the Living Systems Institute

ECRN: Living Systems Institute (LSI ECRN)  

Award Holder: Dr Hannah Laeverenz Schlogelhofer 


Supporting the continued development of the LSI ECRN with a week-long programme of activities in June 2023, complemented by monthly post-doc coffee mornings and PhD seminars. These activities aim to continue to strengthen the LSI ECRN by providing the 58 ECRs and 75 PGRs affiliated within the two Faculties hosted at the LSI with opportunities to develop their research skills and initiate collaborations, while fostering inclusivity and supporting wellbeing. 

The ENDEER initiative (ENcouraging DEvelopment of Early and mid-career Researchers) 

ECRN: Exeter Collaboration for Academic Primary Care (APEx) Early and Mid-Career Researcher Network 

Award Holder: Dr Sinéad McDonagh 


Supporting a range of activities to enhance early and mid-career researchers’ (ECRs/MCRs) knowledge and skills relating to impact, leadership, career progression and fellowships, along with providing protected time to network/collaborate and focus on developing productivity skills and outputs. The ENDEER initiative aims to build a supportive and interactive community within APEx, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences (HLS), and beyond.