Researcher-led Initiative awards

Researcher-led initiative awards


The Researcher Development and Research Culture team has an annual fund to support the development and cascading of personal, professional and career management skills by and for postgraduate research students and early career research staff across the University of Exeter. These Researcher-led Initiative awards are intended to enable postgraduate research students and early career research staff to be creative, proactive, and empowered, through the process of initiating, designing, managing, and delivering new professional development activities for their peers that will develop the skills and experience needed to progress their careers.

Funding is available for applications of a maximum of up to £1000 per award to pay for external facilitators/speakers to support projects, events, and initiatives on these themes. We encourage lower cost initiatives, to enable us to fund as many projects as possible over the course of your scheme.

As part of your application, you are asked to demonstrate the following:

- Cross-College/interdisciplinary demand for and interest in your project
- Lasting impact of your initative
- Collaborative applications are encouraged

When can I apply?

Details of the next round of RLI applications and awards will be announced early 2022

If you have any questions please contact


A new postgraduate journal supported by the University of Exeter’s College of Humanities and Doctoral College’s Researcher Development team.

Our decision to start a new peer-review journal for Postgraduate Research and Taught students in the disciplines of English, Creative Writing and Film at the University of Exeter. We named it Exclamat!on: An Interdisciplinary Journal, and set no thematic constraints for the first issue, so as to appeal to the widest range of contributors possible. Our initial mission for the journal was simple. We sought to create an innovative space in which PGRs and PGTs could engage in current debates and interdisciplinary discussions; we wanted to bring together divergent and creative ideas, and fundamentally showcase work via a new publishing platform within the Department of English. We have recently published the second volume of Exclamat!on, which successfully builds on the success of the first volume. Read our blog to find out more.

Institute of Health Research focus days 2017 & 2018

Words of wisdom were thrown out like sweeties to attendees at the Institute of Health Research Early Career Researcher Network’s recent Focus Day. The theme being “Things the University is Doing that you Don’t Know About, that you Might Want to Know About, that Might Help you Progress your Career. Plus Helpful Career (and Life) Advice from People who’ve Been Where you are and Survived”. Or something like that.

On arrival to the Focus Day, attendees were given a copy of “Self-care for academics: a poetic invitation to reflect and resist” by Siobhan O’Dwyer, Sarah Pinto and Sharon McDonough. After a gentle start to the day, with colouring and refreshments, the thirty-five attendees were inundated with useful advice on a range of career-related topics, including: The Exeter Academic and how it relates to progression and promotion, the University of Exeter Doctoral College and how it supports development for early career researchers, the purpose and achievements of the Positive Working Environment Board and how to get the most out of mentoring and other one-to-one career support.

But equally valuable was the insight into the somewhat stochastic and unexpected career paths of those who have, somehow, navigated the world of the early career researcher and made it to the heady heights of mid-career researcher or even senior academic.

For more details of the Focus Day and the Institute of Health Research Early Career Researcher Network, see our blog post.

Machine Learning

Recent technological advances, such as high-throughput sequencing and remote sensing, provide life scientists with large and complex data sets. This data require several layers of computational processing, from data cleaning and preparation to employing rigorous statistical modelling and machine learning.

Typically, such analyses cannot be performed using off-the-shelf software. Instead scientists need to write custom code to create and automate their data analytical pipelines.

Python is a scripted high-level programming language that is arguably becoming the de facto standard for exploratory and interactive scientific research. The “swiss army knife” for researchers, Python is an easy-to-learn and versatile language that can be used to perform a wide variety of tasks: numerical computations, statistical analysis, data visualisation, image processing, video analysis and more. Moreover, Python is open-source and cross-platform, making software projects easy to disseminate and reproduce, without the need for expensive licences.

We are organising a series of workshops that introduce life scientists to Python. We will present the core aspects of the language and draw examples from a variety of life science applications to show how biological data can be analysed using simple scripts.

All the supporting workshop material has been publicly uploaded onto GitHub., for more details please contact 

The Academic Woman

‘The Academic Woman’ is a global network for all women in higher education and has been instrumental in bringing women together across the whole of the university with our ‘Inspiring Women’ seminar series which ran during last term from March – June 2018. We held 6 sessions which were lunchtime sessions with refreshments from 12-1pm starting with the newly appointed Head of Department for Management, Prof Alex Gerbasi and finishing with a talk from Dr Sawsan Khuri, Associate from the Medical School. All of the seminars were well attended and created lively discussions around issues affected women in academia in both their personal and professional lives. Attendees came from varied disciplines and included senior management and UG students.

Events were promoted via social media where we now have nearly 2000 followers, through our Facebook page and LinkedIn site. For more details, see our webpage.

Winners of 2019 funding round

We are delighted to announce that in 2019 there were 35 high quality applications made to the Researcher-led initiative awards, with 21 of exceptional quality being successfully funded. Thanks to all of those who applied for an award and congratulations to our new award holders. 

Lead Applicant Campus College Initiative
Alison Norton Streatham Humanities Collaborative Archaeology and Humanities Training
Ann Power Streatham Life and Environmental Sciences ‘The ImageStream Revolution!’ A novel solution to answering complex environmental questions.
Antonella Florio Streatham Humanities ‘ExeWip’ (Exeter Works in Progress) - Exeter Classics Postgraduate Seminars
Camille Poignard Streatham Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences Organisation of a workshop on ‘Networks approaches for Healthcare applications’
Diana Valencia Duarte Streatham Humanities 'The Avocado Dialogues': Developing research skills for participatory methodologies
Emily Taylor Truro Medicine and Health Community Based Journal Club
Isabel Sawkins Streatham Humanities ‘Beliefs, Identity, and Ideas’
Jaime Peters St Luke’s Medicine and Health Improving understanding of the development and evaluation of medical tests
Jennifer Finlay Streatham Life and Environmental Sciences Kegs of Knowledge
Joanne Morten Streatham Life and Environmental Sciences 17th Marine Biological Association Conference
Katherine Strick Truro Medicine and Health Developing creative content for social media to support career advancement
Katie Orchel Penryn Life and Environmental Sciences Science Communication Workshops for ECRs - from Ivory Tower to Public Sphere - how to take your research out of the Academy and to the masses. 
Kirsten J Lees Streatham Life and Environmental Sciences Where to start with Impact and Engagement
Max Barnish St Luke’s Medicine and Health The Evidence Synthesis and Modelling for Health Improvement (ESMI) Guest Lecture Series 2020
Owen Tomlinson St Luke’s Life and Environmental Sciences ‘InHaLE’ (Interdisciplinary Heart and Lung ECR) Seminar Series
Paulina Sepulveda and Javiera Salazar Rivera St Luke’s Social Sciences and International Studies Being here, researching there: First Colloquium of International Postgraduate Educational Researchers
Penelope Maher Streatham Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences Understanding body language (hosted by Women in Physics and Women in Climate)
Shalinee Dhayal St Luke’s Medicine and Health ‘Don’t lose the plot! Learn to Western Blot’ (Western blotting workshop)
Svetlana Yefimenko Streatham Humanities Empire and Literature Roundtable
Tanya Pennell Penryn Life and Environmental Sciences RISE: Research & Inclusivity in Social Evolution
Viktor Kouloumpis Penryn Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences Carbon Literacy Training

Winners of the 2018 funding

We are delighted to announce that in 2018 there were 41 applications made to the Researcher-led initiative awards, with 20 being successfully funded. Thanks to all of those who applied for an award and congratulations to our new award holders. 

Lead award holder Title of their Researcher-led Initiative Discipline
The Business School
Gemma Delafield ExeterEnergy Seminar Series Economics
College of Engineering Mathematics and Physical Sciences
Tinkle Chugh Workshop on Multiple Criteria Decision Making (MCDM) Mathematics
Charlie Kirkwood How to share your code: an introduction to the Git ecosystem for early career researchers Mathematics
Bob-Dan Lechner Negative results: not junk, but an opportunity to learn Physics
Penelope Maher Careers in Climate (hosted by Women in Climate) Mathematics
College of Humanities
Lisa Berry-Waite Conceptualising statehood in the age of Brexit History
Ashley Gannicott Borders, Boundaries and Margins - Exclamat!on: An Interdisciplinary Journal's Annual Conference 2019 English
Veronica Heney and Zaina Mahmoud Sensitive Interview Training Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health
Adrián Oyaneder Rodríguez First South American Meeting at Exeter (SAAME) Archaeology
Jessica Tyner-Mehta An Introduction to SEO for Researchers and Creatives English
College of Life and Environmental Sciences
Hazel Knipe Postgraduate Mental Health Workshop Biosciences
Benjamin Sherlock Version Control Systems Living Systems Institute
College of Medicine and Health
Ben Lee Gene Expression and Synthetic Biology Symposium Medicine
Daisy Parker Doing Quality Qualitative Analysis Medicine
Liz Shaw Creative Communications: has your research gone far enough? Medicine
Tristan Snowsill Linking with discipline specific cross-university early career researcher networks Medicine
Joana Viana Reproducible and Open Science Workshop Medicine
Sarah Walker ExeCTU: A Focus on Statistics in Regulated Clinical Trials Medicine
College of Social Sciences and International Studies
Jingya (Elaine) Liu Creative Interviews in the Social Science Education
Virginia Thomas The Academic Woman Politics and International Relations

We are also pleased that we are able to financially support some aspects of the following initiatives:

Lead award holder Title of their Initiative Discipline
College of Engineering Mathematics and Physical Sciences
Oluwanfunmilola Ola International Women in Engineering Day 2019 Engineering
College of Humanities
Matt Beebee The Humanities Postgraduate Research Conference 2019 History
College of Medicine and Health
Ruth Gwernan-Jones St Luke’s Volunteer Garden Medicine