Physics of Life at the University of funds 18 new early career researchers across the UK

News | Posted on Monday 27 May 2024

The UK Physics of Life network PoLNET, homed in the University of York, has awarded 18 exceptional postdoctoral early researchers grants totalling £500,000.

image of equipment in the School of Physics, Engineering and Technology

Their research will combine novel interdisciplinary perspectives and expertise from physics and the life sciences, funded by UKRI's Physics of Life Strategic Priority Fund and Wellcome.


The funding call represented a unique opportunity for postdoctoral researchers to apply directly for their own grants, to help them to gain more independence as a researcher in taking a leading role in shaping their own research directions, and contributing to their professional development. 

The six-month awards are intended to enable applicants to run feasibility experiments or develop theory, learn about another discipline or develop a new collaboration, to help progress their careers. 

Over 100 expressions of interest were received from postdoctoral researchers across the UK, with access mentoring offered by senior members of the PoLNET steering group to help develop their applications.  


Today’s funding announcement comes off the back of £33m of funding allocated from UKRI's Strategic Priorities Fund, with additional funding from Wellcome.

Polnet chair, Professor Mark Leake, who oversaw the latest call, said: “The standard of these applications was exceptional, the appraisal panel really had its work set out. We were universally bowled over by the scientific quality and invention of these proposals. We encouraged creativity, ambition and risk, and we got it.

“I was also so delighted that PoLNET could offer multiple small group access mentoring opportunities for call applicants. The level of engagement of postdocs in these sessions was really high and it was very clear that strong mentorship in this area is absolutely critical; we provided an enormously valuable resource here in helping these early career researchers in multiple aspects of their career development.”

The call was supported by UKRI as well the global charitable foundation Wellcome, with a remit to gain new insights from creatively combining the physical and life sciences.

Notes to editors:

  • The Physics of Life network (PoLNET) is overseen from the University of York by network manager Dr Karis Baker and network chair Professor Mark Leake, and comprises over 1,000 members nationally across all career stages.


Funded by