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UCL awarded £1m for research on link between brain and behavior

4 January 2018

Research into the brain and behaviour at UCL

UCL has been awarded £1,050,000 by the Leverhulme Trust to fund a Doctoral Training Programme (DTP) for 15 researchers to explore and understand the link between the brain and behaviour. Ecological Brain will be an international first that will equip doctoral graduates with the crucial cross-disciplinary skills that are necessary to deal with the plentiful and complex data that the natural environment provides. Its unique approach will see researchers from UCL’s faculties of Social & Historical Sciences, Brain Sciences, Bartlett School of Architecture, Engineering and the Institute of Education (IOE) work together to explore the ecological niche in which the brain has evolved.

A first for UCL

This award marks a first for UCL for Doctoral Training funding from the Leverhulme Trust. Speaking about the project, Mirco Musolesi (Reader Data Science, Geography) who will be working on the Programme, said: "This will be a fantastic opportunity for training the next generation of researchers who will be able to work at the interface of several disciplines, from computational social science to experimental psychology, from neuroscience to computer science. Understanding how humans operates in the real-world is fundamental to explaining the richness of human behaviour."

While the need for an ecological approach has long been advocated and acknowledged across disciplines, it is only now that methodological and technological developments make it feasible to conduct studies under naturalistic conditions without forfeiting experimental control.

Mirco will be joined by Professor Gabriella Vigliocco (Department of Experimental Psychology) who will lead the project, Professor Hugo Spiers (Experimental Psychology, FBS), Professor Eirini Flouri (Psychology & Human Development, IoE), Professor Andrew Hudson-Smith (CASA, Bartlett), Professor Yvonne Rogers (UCLIC, FBS/FES), Professor Anthony Steed (Computer Science, FES), and Professor Nick Tyler (Civil Engineering, FES) who will supervise and support the 15 researchers taken on to the project.

Major Research Fellowships

The Leverhulme Trust also awarded Major Research Fellowships to Professor Alison Shell (UCL English Language & Literature) and Professor Gregory Dart (UCL English Language & Literature).

Professor Shell’s interests include Shakespeare and Renaissance drama; Tudor and Stuart poetry, especially the work of John Donne and Robert Southwell.

Professor Dart’s research, both current and prospective, is centrally concerned with Romanticism, the City, and the history and development of the essay form from Montaigne to the modern period. At present, as part of his current project ‘Charles Lamb and Romanticism’, he is editing three volumes of the complete works of Charles and Mary Lamb for Oxford University Press.

The fellowships provide replacement teaching costs over two or three years, to allow academics in the humanities and social sciences to focus on a specific piece of original research.

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