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Portico in spring

Research pioneers

UCL Research Frontiers

A central quality of the research leaders that UCL seeks to attract, retain and cultivate is the ability to determine their own research direction, based on their own curiosity about and commitment to their chosen subject area.

We do not seek those who follow intellectual fashions, only add their voice to received opinion or wait for funding agencies to determine research priorities. Leaders with the imagination and insight to address questions whose significance is not yet clear to any other human being, or to provide new answers to questions that have frustrated all others, are of an entirely different calibre. The ability to cultivate and support these precious individuals is a critical test of a global university, and will be one of our most fundamental goals.

We will suitably recognise and reward creative and distinctive intellectual achievement. We will continue to run schemes, such as the UCL Provost’s Venture Fellowship, that offer particular opportunities for long-term exploration of new fields. We will explore possibilities of new approaches to enable, support and recognise academic imagination, as well as to showcase to wider society the unique benefits that it offers.

Visionary individuals will lead UCL Research Frontiers programmes, drawing on a team providing expertise, insights and methodologies from other disciplines. Each UCL Research Frontier programme will have an initial five-year duration, and an associated five-year vision for its outcome. UCL will support and facilitate such programmes through, for example:

  • helping to develop the vision
  • identifying appropriate collaborators and building communities within and beyond UCL
  • pump-priming where funds allow
  • providing communications support and grant development facilitation.

Annual plans of activity will be developed for each programme in support of a five-year vision for its activities and outcomes.

The first three UCL Research Frontiers programmes are Origins of Life, Human Evolution and Dynamics of Civilisation; in the medium term we will invite research leaders to propose new activity, ultimately developing a portfolio of 10–12 programmes.

Page last modified on 14 may 12 16:56