Birmingham and Illinois launch cross-Atlantic fellowship scheme

BRIDGE fellowships build on partnership established between two institutions in 2014

April 14, 2016

A UK and a US university that set up a pioneering cross-Atlantic partnership two years ago have announced an intercontinental collaboration in postdoctoral research to investigate “areas of world-wide importance”.

The University of Birmingham and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are jointly recruiting early career researchers to take part in the new Birmingham-Illinois BRIDGE fellowship for a September 2016 start.

The three-year fellowships will look into six key areas of research: diversity, race and education; cognition and ageing; cultural heritage, tourism and economic development; computational genomics; brain trauma; and international high-speed rail.

Tim Softley, Birmingham’s pro vice-chancellor for research and knowledge transfer, said that the fields selected were “areas of world-wide importance where both universities have demonstrable excellence”.

The institutions are now looking for researchers “with the potential to reach the top of their field, as well as enhancing both universities’ existing academic strengths and contributing to the growing culture of collaboration and interdisciplinary research that exists at both institutions”, he added.

In March 2014, the two universities signed an agreement, known as the BRIDGE Alliance, to invest resources in strengthening research and teaching links. 

Peter Schiffer, vice-chancellor for research at Illinois, said that this new partnership would build on the alliance, strengthening the “two comprehensive, research-intensive universities”. 

He added that the “challenges facing society are inherently global, and tackling them requires scholarly collaboration across borders".

Professor Schiffer continued: “Illinois has a long history of collaborative, interdisciplinary work, and this programme strongly supports those efforts. We are delighted to partner with Birmingham to advance knowledge in these high-impact research areas.”

Stephen Bridges, British Consul General in Chicago, also offered his support for the fellowship, calling the scheme “the latest development in this exemplary US-UK higher education partnership, which is already showing impressive results”. 

“I have no doubt that the opportunities this scheme provides for outstanding early career researchers to join research groups at two leading global universities will result in the generation of further impactful research,” added Mr Bridges.

Researchers will spend the first and third years at Birmingham, with the second year spent at Illinois. After successfully completing the fellowship, researchers will be appointed to a permanent post as an academic lecturer.

In addition to an annual salary in the range of £38,896 to £46,414, fellows will receive an allowance while in the US that covers travel, accommodation and a research budget. Fellows in the fields of science, engineering and medicine will receive an allowance of $65,000 (£45,643). Researchers in the arts, humanities and social sciences will receive $25,000 (£17,555).

The closing date for applications to the BRIDGE fellowship programme is 13 May.

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