Our researchers work in partnership with communities across the developing world to tackle some of the globe’s most pressing health, environmental and social challenges.

From remote South Pacific islands to major cities, our academics collaborate with governments and local people to find sustainable solutions for development challenges.

We are harnessing funds from the £1.5 billion Global Challenges Research Fund to support our work.

At all times, we are guided by the principles of respectful and equal partnership in the co-design of research. Our work also contributes to the delivery of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals - an ambitious programme of actions designed to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.

Find out more about our approach to global challenges research.

Meet some of our academic experts

Simon McQueen-Mason

Professor McQueen-Mason’s research focuses on the development of biofuels derived by breaking down the cells walls of hard-to-digest biomass. His work has global applications including work on woody residues from the sugarcane industry in Brazil and using enzymes to break down waste straw created by rice growers in Asia.

Samarthia Thankappan

Dr Thankappan has research interests in sustainability in the agri-food and automotive sectors. Also the impact of climate change policy on business. She is involved in a York-led, BBSRC project focusing on developing more drought-tolerant rice cultivars for growers in rain-fed areas of India.

Paul Gready

Human rights specialist Professor Gready has research interests in transitional justice and the impact of development and culture on human rights. He worked for international human rights organisations, including Amnesty International in East and South Africa and India. Currently leads projects on transformative justice and development alternatives.

Neil Bruce

A major focus of Professor Neil Bruce's research is to understand how plants and microorganisms metabolise pollutants. He is particularly interested in utilising the enzymes he discovers for industrial and environmental applications, including the use of enzymes to convert crop residues into more valuable products.

Kate Pickett

Professor Pickett’s research focuses on the social determinants of health including the influences of social class and income inequality. She is co-author of The Spirit Level, a best-selling book which explores the effects of inequality, is co-founder of the Equality Trust and is the University’s Research Champion for Justice and Equality.

Bob Doherty

Fair trade and social enterprise specialist Bob Doherty is Professor of Marketing at the York Management School and principal investigator of the University’s IKnowFood research programme. He also leads the AgriFood at York project, is a trustee of the Fairtrade Foundation and before moving into academia worked for Fairtrade brand Divine Chocolate.

Research snapshot: decoding the genetics of rice straw

Duong Nguyen at work in the Field Crops Research Centre, Vietnam

Researcher Duong Nguyen is investigating ways to convert waste straw left over from the Asian rice harvest into animal feed or fuel.

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Explore more of our research

York awarded major funding

Researchers from across the University have been awarded major grants from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) to tackle the world's most pressing issues.

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Children playing in a village in Malawi. Credit Kevin Walsh