Climate change research projects awarded share of £20.2 million

In its latest funding round, the Wolfson Foundation has awarded over £20 million to projects in education, research, culture and health.

Our funding was spread across the UK, from Thurso to Truro and Derry~Londonderry to Norwich.

The three highest awards for research were made in areas that help to mitigate and adapt to climate change and its effects.

£1.1 million will fund ambitious research using the power of plant and microbial sciences to create a safer, healthier, and more sustainable future. The Healthy Plants, Healthy People, Healthy Planet (HP3) project at The Sainsbury Laboratory and John Innes Centre will address global challenges including sustainably increasing crop yields to feed the world, combatting health threats like antimicrobial resistance and viral pandemics, and developing crops that are resilient to the challenges of a changing climate.

Testing facilities for low- and zero-carbon aircraft receive a grant of £750,000. Scientists at the new National Centre for Power and Propulsion at the Whittle Laboratory at the University of Cambridge will test electric and hydrogen aircraft for short- and medium-range distances. They will also research technologies that can reduce the amount of fuel burned by conventional aircraft.

A grant of £748,000 will enable Plymouth Marine Laboratory to study how the marine environment affects the concentrations of gases in the atmosphere that are important to climate change and human health. A fleet of cutting-edge autonomous vessels, including mini-submarines, will be equipped with state-of-the-art sensors, samplers and instruments to collect more comprehensive data and radically improve our understanding of how ocean processes contribute to our climate and air quality.

Other projects supported also cover environmental themes. A grant of £75,000 will help to expand the facilities at Scotswood Garden, a Newcastle charity using nature to improve the health and wellbeing of people of all ages. Their new eco-building has been co-designed by the community in partnership with Newcastle University’s School of Architecture and will incorporate donated shipping containers to reduce its environmental impact.

Cultural and education projects

In the cultural sphere, a significant amount was awarded to theatres, including £500,000 for the redevelopment of Theatr Clwyd in Flintshire.

Other cultural awards include refurbishing the gallery home to Ipswich Museum’s woolly mammoth (dubbed Wool-I-Am), support towards a new home for the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, and the restoration of Silverburn Flax Mill in Fife to create a community hub providing opportunities for young people.

Nineteen schools received grants for buildings and equipment for science, computer science, design technology, media and performing arts. An initiative to improve access to remote mental health support in schools, led jointly by Mind and the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, was also awarded £150,000.

MQ Mental Health Research received £500,000 for research into ‘brain fog’ – difficulties in thinking, memory and attention – in people with long Covid.

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