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The University of Southampton

Early Career Research Fellowships in Chemistry

Chemistry at the University of Southampton values the contributions made by Early Career Researchers across all of our activities, and we seek to support the development of future research leaders in the Chemical Sciences.

One element of our strategy is to identify and support outstanding Early Career Researchers to progress applications for fellowships, which enable them to build strong programmes of independent research in Southampton. We have a track record of converting fellowships into permanent academic positions and we can provide those candidates who are selected with guidance and mentoring in developing their research career.

Key facts

Our selection process for early career fellowships aims to identify candidates with excellent track records and whose research plans complement and strengthen existing research activity in Southampton. Prospective candidates should carefully consider why Southampton will provide the right environment for their fellowship and facilitate their career. In the first instance, initial expressions of interest should be addressed to the Head of the most relevant Research Section, or the Director of Research, for consideration.

If you are interested in applying for a Fellowship to be hosted within Chemistry at Southampton, you should take the following steps:

  • Make sure you satisfy the eligibility criteria and check the closing date for a selected fellowship scheme.
  • Preferably at least 3 months before closing date, contact the relevant Chemistry Deputy Head of School for Research and Enterprise ( Robert Raja ) and the Chemistry Fellowship Champion ( Nuria Garcia-Araez ) expressing your interest in applying.
  • Attach an original research proposal (this may be in draft form), which should be clearly distinct from the research of your postdoctoral or PhD supervisors, together with your CV and publication track record.
  • Indicate why you consider Southampton to be the most appropriate host institution for your research.

Following consideration of your initial application by the Research & Enterprise Committee, you may be invited to visit Southampton to give a short presentation on your proposal, with discussions with colleagues.

Candidates whose proposal is considered ‘competitive’, and whose research aligns well with the Chemistry’s research themes, will receive a strong letter of support from the Head of Chemistry and commitment of resources to ensure that the applicant can rapidly establish independent research activity in Southampton. We will also provide guidance and mentoring at the application and interview stages.

  • Fellowship holders in Chemistry at the University of Southampton will be assigned a senior staff mentor who will provide advice to assist them in successfully establishing their independent research programme in the department
  • The mentor will also be able to provide guidance and advice regarding progression through the University Probationary Scheme
  • Normally the Management Group in Chemistry would expect to discuss with the Fellow the likelihood of securing a permanent position around 3 years into their fellowship period
  • The main criteria will include the Fellow demonstrating that he/she has:
    • established a successful independent research programme
    • built a high quality team of postgraduate and/or post-doctoral researchers
    • produced high quality research (e.g. publications in high impact journals)
    • demonstrated a strong commitment to enhancing the reputation of Chemistry and the University of Southampton through their teaching, enterprise activities, as well as other contributions, e.g. through outreach, public engagement, etc.
  • Prior to securing a permanent appointment, fellowship holders will normally be interviewed competitively against an externally advertised post

Competitive fellowship schemes specifically targeted at Early Career Researchers are available through various funding bodies, charities and institutions. These schemes provide the opportunity to build an independent research career and successful applicants are expected to be strong candidates for future academic posts within the university.

Application procedures and eligibility criteria for competitive 5-year fellowship schemes:

  • EPSRC Fellowships EPSRC support a variety of Fellowships, offered across the whole of the EPSRC remit, although calls are targeted at specific areas.
  • The Royal Society University Research Fellowships The Royal Society University Research Fellowships aim to provide outstanding scientists, who should have the potential to become leaders in their chosen field, with the opportunity to build an independent research career.
  • The Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowships Aimed at those who require a flexible working pattern due to personal circumstances such as parenting or caring responsibilities or health issues. Female candidates are particularly invited to apply.

The following shorter term fellowship schemes are also available:

Experiences of our current and recent Research Fellows

Dr Marina Carravetta

"My Royal Society University Research Fellowship provided me with the opportunity to start with my own independent career, explore new research directions and provided me a path towards a successful research career and a permanent post within the University of Southampton. The Royal Society offers excellent courses for a wide range of skills, moreover research fellows benefit from a reduced teaching load, giving more time for personal development."

Marina's staff profile

Dr Ilya Kuprov

“EPSRC Fellowship was the most productive time of my scientific career so far. The freedom to focus on the research work and the long-term security of a five-year grant are a rare opportunity. The Chemistry Department at Southampton has also matched the grant with two PhD studentships and some equipment funds. Result – over 30 papers published in those five years and a huge boost to my profile in the Magnetic Resonance community.”

Ilya's staff profile

Professor Andrew Hector

"My Royal Society University Research Fellowship allowed me the time and space to try out some challenging new research ideas and gradually build up my teaching and other activities before moving into a full academic role."

Andrew's staff profile

Dr Lynda Brown

"The Dorothy Hodgkin award is a forward thinking fellowship that has allowed me to further my academic career whilst working part-time, which has been invaluable whilst bringing up my two children. This fellowship provides considerable research freedom that has enabled me to establish collaborations, opening up new opportunities for my future independent research. I have benefitted greatly from mentoring from my senior colleagues, and the I know that I have managed to maintain the right balance between work and family life due to the flexibility of an academic career."

Lynda's staff profile

Dr Benno Meier

I received an EPSRC Early Career Research Fellowship to develop an idea to make magnetic resonance much more sensitive. This fellowship - secured with excellent support from the School of Chemistry and the University of Southampton - really was the starting point of my journey as an independent academic. Within two more years, this journey led to funding for a Helmholtz Young Investigator Group and an ERC Synergy grant so it has certainly been worthwhile.

The Meier lab

Prof. Steve Goldup

I was fortunate enough to be awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship. The freedom and stability this fellowship gives you at the start of your career is incredible. It allowed me to build a research programme looking at some of the more weird and wonderful aspects of interlocked molecules and stereochemistry. The results of my fellowship led more or less directly to an ERC Consolidator Grant, which allowed me to expand my research programme considerably, open up some really exciting new areas and build new collaborations.

Steve's staff profile

Dr. Nuria Garcia-Araez

My EPSRC early-career fellowship has been life-changing for me. It provided me time and resources to test some novel ideas in a highly competitive field, the development of next generation of batteries. I am very proud of the achievements that I and my team have accomplished, and I am truly delighted to receive recognition from some of the scientist that I most deeply admire.

Nuria's staff profile

Prof. Chris Skylaris

My Royal Society URF provided the long-term stability required to carry out an ambitious programme of research that enabled me to take my early stage work on large-scale quantum chemistry calculations and advance it to a unique novel software package for simulations of complex materials, biomolecules and nanostructures, with a large numbers of atoms, that were intractable by previous quantum approaches. The methods I developed gave insights into chemical interactions and processes of such complex systems, with potential applications in drug design and catalysis. Also the URF allowed me to build up my own research group, apply for my own research grants, and become independent as a researcher, providing the springboard for my first academic position in Southampton as a Lecturer.

Chris' staff profile

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