A new fellowship programme will support emerging scholars from Commonwealth countries to conduct world-class research on marine plastics.
With funding from the UK Government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) is launching 35 new ‘Blue Charter Fellowships’, guided by the Commonwealth’s technical experts on oceans.
The programme takes its name from the Commonwealth Blue Charter, a collective commitment of the 53 member countries to preserve and nurture the world’s oceans, agreed by leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in April.
Joanna Newman, ACU Chief Executive and Secretary General, said: “Marine pollution – and the scourge of marine plastics in our oceans – is one of the most pressing issues our global community must confront. Universities are uniquely placed to help solve such challenges, and these Blue Charter Fellowships will enable new research and innovation to flourish through the exchange of people and ideas.”
Nick Hardman-Mountford, Head of Ocean and Natural Resources at the Commonwealth added: “The Commonwealth Blue Charter provides an action-orientated collaborative mechanism for countries to address ocean issues, and these fellowships will provide an exceptional opportunity for Commonwealth academic researchers to build their capacity and progress critical research that will feed into this process.”
Applications are open to research staff or PhD students at any of the ACU member institutions, which number more than 500 in at least 50 countries across the Commonwealth. Grants of up to £10,000 each will support fellows through two- to three-month placements at universities and industries in small island states, Canada, India, South Africa and the UK. The fellows will also receive support from specialist mentors with expertise in their area of research.
Research will focus on responses to marine pollution, such as preventing plastics from getting into the sea, developing alternatives to plastics, and potential innovations for cleaning up the seas.
The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 7 November. The fellowships will take place between 27 December 2018 and 31 March 2019.
The Blue Charter Fellowship programme helps fulfil the objectives of the Commonwealth Marine Plastics Research and Innovation Framework launched by the UK government in May.