Skip to content Accessibility statement

Sparks fly at the University of York

Posted on 31 July 2023

Three research projects have been given funding by the Sparks initiative - an ambitious research programme linked to our vision as a University for Public Good.

People walking by the River Ouse in York

Launched earlier this year, Sparks is a new university-wide initiative that has the potential to drive creativity and our next great innovations.

The three research projects are:


YorVoice will lead radical, interdisciplinary voice research focused on how voices vary from person to person, and how these differences can be better understood to improve technology, healthcare, equality and creative expression.

Dr Amelia Gully, joint principal investigator on the YorVoice project and a lecturer in speech science, said: “Your voice is unique and impacts how you move through the world.

“Our project will focus on understanding and addressing the impact of individual vocal differences on daily life. It will consider emerging challenges associated with the introduction of AI voice technology and look at how such technologies can be adapted to benefit society.”

York Equitable Technology Lab

Research into the introduction of novel technologies is also part of the work of the York Equitable Technology Lab (ETL).

Led by the faculty of sciences with expertise from social sciences and the arts and humanities, ETL will develop new approaches to technology development that respond equitably to end-user needs and ensure that new technology doesn’t reinforce social and economic marginalisation.

Professor Jonathan Ensor, one of the lead investigators of the ETL project and a professor in the Department of Environment and Geography, said: “Technological innovations that don’t engage with end-users or adequately consider the social and political context that the technologies will be used in don’t address society’s needs.

“By bringing together academic experts, technology end-users and other stakeholders we will find co-development solutions that respond to societal context and remove existing biases in the design of new technologies.”

Administrative Fairness in Healthcare

As the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) celebrates its 75th year and demands on its services continue to grow, the Administrative Fairness in Healthcare project seeks to solve the question of how to ensure that its one million daily users are able to effectively navigate the ever-increasing number of digital healthcare technologies.

“Millions of decisions are taken everyday in the NHS, but not all of them are clinical,” said Dr Jed Meers, co-lead of the project and a lecturer at York Law School. “There is increasing evidence that patients’ experiences of all kinds of processes - from booking appointments, to digital GP appointments - impact their willingness to engage with treatment and have other outcomes. These processes need robust evaluation to ensure they are helping to support positive patient outcomes.”

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Matthias Ruth said: “I want to congratulate our first Sparks researchers. Their applications have demonstrated the real spirit of the scheme - ambitious ideas sparked by their curiosity and a desire to improve the world we live in. They've shown real vision and a determination to be breaking ground for novel and exciting areas of research.”

Explore more news

Media enquiries

Alistair Keely
Head of Media Relations

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153