Research

Transparency and Governance

Governance and staffing structure | Investments | Grants and papers

 

The University of Nottingham invested in six different Beacons of Excellence (Beacons) driven by the need for sustainable solutions to key global challenges. These Beacons support the goal of raising the profile of research at Nottingham. They provide a model approach to attracting increased funding, strengthening international partnerships and accelerating the impact of our innovation. The Future Food Beacon is one of these, commencing in 2017, and focusing on challenges across the food system, particularly United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2 – zero hunger.

The Future Food Beacon is an open research cluster exploring ways to feed a growing population sustainably within a changing environment. The University of Nottingham has over 250 researchers working on questions across the food system, spanning five faculties. The Future Food Beacon focuses this breadth and depth of expertise to generate transdisciplinary solutions to questions of future food security.  

As part of our commitment to openness, this page details how the Future Food Beacon is structured, where we have invested in projects, equipment, and infrastructure, and the resulting successful grants won and papers published. 

Future Food Beacon governance and staffing structure

All the Future Food Beacon staff and students detailed below are paid for by the Beacon. The Future Food Beacon is led by our Director, Prof David E Salt. Prof Salt has over 30 years of research experience, and has been continuously funded from external grants since 1996 (total £17.8 million), with 170 publications that have attracted over 35,000 citations (field weighted citation: 3.14; publications in the top 10% of the most cited publications worldwide being 45.8%). 

There is a core support team made up of: Simon Ridgway, Associate Director of Operations; Dr Peter Noy, Associate Director of Research; Dr Lexi Earl, Outreach and Engagement Manager; Joanna Smuga-Lumatz, Administrator; and Gigi Walker, Administrative Assistant. 

The Future Food Beacon has seven Research Group Leaders: 

Prof Murray Lark (Environmetrics); Associate Prof Levi Yant (Evolutionary Genomics); Associate Prof Gabriel Castrillo (Plant Microbiome); Assistant Prof Michael Pound (Computer Vision); Assistant Prof Guillermina Mendiondo (Translational Crop Science); Assistant Prof Andrew Clarke (Archaeogenetics); and Assistant Prof Tristan Dew (Molecular Phenomics). Drs Castrillo, Mendiondo and Pound were part of the original six Future Food Beacon Nottingham Research Fellows and are now part of the School of Biosciences (Castrillo and Mendiondo) and Computer Science (Pound). Dr Mendiondo is seconded full time to the Beacon through July 2021. Dr Castrillo is seconded full time to the Beacon through July 2023. Our group leaders are based in the Faculties of Science, and Medicine & Health Science.

The remaining Future Food Beacon Nottingham Research Fellows are: Dr Sina Fischer (Functional Genomics); Dr Sally Eldeghaidy (Sensory Science,); and Dr Rahul Bhosale (Phenomics and Functional Genomics). Sally will be joining the School of Biosciences in Sept 2021 as an Assistant Professor.

Additionally, the Beacon has employed four technologists: Dr Jon Atkinson (Phenomics); Dr Michael Wilson (Bioinformatics); Dr Christopher Moore (Genomics); and Dr Paulina Flis (Ionomics).

In partnership with Rothamsted Research, the Future Food Beacon has invested in an International Agricultural Doctoral Training Programme. This has funded 15 PhD candidates (the final five candidates start in 2021) awarded after peer review in open competition across the University. 

The Future Food Beacon is governed by a Leadership team of 17 staff from all five Faculties at the University of Nottingham (UK) and the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC). The Director reports to the Faculty of Science PVC and the University PVC for Research and Knowledge Exchange. The Beacon also has an External Advisory Board which meets twice a year.

Staff recruitment summary 

This simple table sets out all the staff recruited by the Beacon. 

STAFF RECRUITMENT

     

Grade

Female

Male

Total

7 (Professor)

 

2

2

6 (Associate Professor)

 

2

2

5 (Assistant Professor/Research Director)

3

8

11

4 (Postdoctoral Research Assistant/Manager)

6

4

10

3 Administrator

1

1

2

2 Administrative Assistant

1

 

1

PhD

14

14

28

Postdoctoral Prizes  (1-year funding after PhD)

1

4

5

Beacon Fellow

4

5

9

TOTAL

30

40

70

 

Future Food Beacon investments

Internal projects

The Future Food Beacon has invested in various projects across the University of Nottingham, all awarded after peer review in open competition from across the University. 

We made two large investments through the Innovation Challenge in the projects: Future Proteins Platform and Palaeobenchmarking Resilient Agricultural Systems. These projects are transdisciplinary and were developed as part of an open co-production process held across all Faculties and three campuses in the summer of 2018. The final selection of projects was made by a review panel composed of senior University of Nottingham leadership and external experts, including from industry.

The Future Proteins Platform is led by Prof Andy Salter in Nutrition (School of Biosciences, Faculty of Science). It employs two PDRAs and eight PhD candidates (including a PhD student at UNMC). 

Palaeobenchmarking Resilient Agricultural Systems is led by Prof Matt Jones in Geography (School of Geography, Faculty of Social Science). The project employs one Assistant Professor, one PDRA and eight PhD candidates.

In addition to the Innovation Challenge projects, we have funded:

  • 28 smaller innovation projects 
  • 17 partnership awards
  • 9 Visiting Fellows based in Faculties of Arts, Science, and Engineering 
  • 5 Postdoctoral prizes

For details of all of these, please feel free to view our Internal Schemes summary (UoN staff only).  

Equipment investments

We have purchased numerous pieces of equipment, totalling £2.9 million, which advance the research capabilities of several Schools across the University of Nottingham. A brief summary of our purchases appear below. Further information can be found on the Equipment page and on our blog.  

EQUIPMENT PURCHASED

Number of items

Genomic data collection

6

High-throughput phenotyping

5

High-density data exploration

1

Biomaterial characterisation

5

Nutritional analysis

6

Translational field-scale phenotyping

6

TOTAL

29

 

Infrastructure investments

The Future Food Beacon is investing in a new Ancient and Environmental DNA laboratory (ÆDNA). In collaboration with the Department of Classics and Archaeology (Faculty of Arts), the School of Geography (Faculty of Social Science), and Life in Changing Environments Interdisciplinary Research Cluster (IRC) ÆDNA will provide unique capability at the University and the East Midlands region. The laboratory will allow isolation and analysis of damaged, degraded and low-copy DNA to address research questions across multiple fields including biology & medicine, environmental science, geography, and archaeology. Construction of the lab is underway, with completion expected in August 2021. You can watch an introductory video here.

 

Grants and papers

The Future Food Beacon is a success story. Operating as an open, transdisciplinary research platform, the Beacon has promoted world-leading research both in the UK and globally that is contributing positive change in global food systems. Since the start of the Future Food Beacon and as of June 2021 researchers involved in the Beacon have won 45 external grants totalling £12.4 million, producing £3.1 million in research margin for the University and Schools in which the PI and Co-Is of the grants are based (all Beacon researchers have a home School). During this time, Beacon researchers have also published 137 papers, including 37 REF 4-star papers.  

We determine if a grant is attributed to the Future Food Beacon using a simple set of rules set by the University: 

1)    A project involves a Future Food Beacon appointee (those people recruited and paid by the Beacon)

2)    A project where the Future Food Beacon provides direct match funding (i.e. cash/PhD student) or in-kind support (i.e. free access to equipment, data processing)

3)    A project which is the direct result of a Future Food Beacon investment (i.e. grants based on equipment purchased by the Beacon or as a result of the support provided in (2) above)

4)    Projects which were a result of Future Food Beacon activity (i.e. a workshop, seminar, international visit, fellowship)

5)    A project that involves two or more of the Beacon team across different schools

 

Grant income split by different project definitions

88% of grant income

A project involving a Beacon appointee (those people recruited and paid by the Beacon)

1% of grant income

A project where the beacon provides direct matching funding (i.e. cash/PhD student) or in-kind support (i.e. free equipment access, data processing)

4% of grant income

A project which is the direct result of a beacon investment (i.e. grants based on equipment purchased by the Beacon, or as a result of the support provided in (2) above)

7% of grant income

Projects which were a result of beacon activity (i.e. a workshop, seminar, international visit, fellowship)

 A full list of grants attributed to the Future Food Beacon can be viewed here (UoN staff only).

 

Publications

We are proud of our publication record. Publications are counted as peer reviewed research publications containing a researcher employed by the Beacon. Our publications can be broadly summarised as:

Beacon researchers as first or last author: 84 papers, including 20 REF 4-star papers [field weighted citation 2.3; outputs in the top 10% of most cited publications worldwide 29.8%].

Beacon researchers are authors but not first or last author: 53 papers, including 17 REF 4-star papers [field weighted citation 2.25; publications in the top 10% of the most cited publications worldwide being 32.1%].

Our publications truly deliver on the original spirt of the University of Nottingham’s Research Strategy for the Beacons: ‘raising the profile of research at Nottingham’. The Future Food Beacon is producing research publications at the very top end of the University of Nottingham’s publications [University of Nottingham average field weighted citation is 1.88; and publications in the top 10% of the most cited publications worldwide being 20.8%].

As a benchmark of quality for the UK, the University of Oxford field weighted citation is 2.26, with publications in the top 10% of the most cited publications worldwide being 24.8%. The University of Cambridge field weighted citation is 2.18, with publications in the top 10% of the most cited publications worldwide being 26.2%.

As a global reference, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has a field weighted citation of 2.31, with publications in the top 10% of the most cited publications worldwide being 30.1%.

Most of the Future Food Beacon publications can be found on our Publications page.

 

Contact us

Further information on Beacon activities can be found in our Annual Reportsour Yearbook, and on our blog. To keep up-to-date with Future Food Beacon news, sign up to our mailing list

If you have further questions regarding any aspect of the Future Food Beacon structure, governance and outputs, please contact us

World-class research at the University of Nottingham

University Park
Nottingham
NG7 2RD
+44 (0) 115 951 5151
research@nottingham.ac.uk
Athena Swan Logo