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Durham University

Research & business

Geography and Physics research wins over £7million funding

(31 March 2020)

Our Geography and Physics research is among the best in the world and we’ve just received three prestigious awards.

The European Research Council (ERC) has announced it’s giving Durham over £7million to fund separate research into ice sheet collapse, the ethics of life in the ages of machine learning and how fluids flow.

West Antarctic

Led by Professor Mike Bentley (pictured left), from the Department of Geography, researchers will be drilling below the ice to look at past collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

The project will use innovative technology to drill through the Antarctic Ice Sheet to retrieve samples of bedrock.

With some advanced analytical techniques it can be determined when the rocks were last exposed from under retreating ice, the conditions that lead to ice sheet retreat, and how much sea level rise could be expected in a warmer world.

Machine Learning

Professor Louise Amoore (pictured right), also from the Department of Geography, will lead research into so-called algorithmic societies and the ethics of life in the age of machine learning.

The project will develop a new approach to responding to the consequences of machine learning for contemporary societies. Research will be conducted across diverse domains, from behavioural biometrics to biomedical object recognition.

Fluid flow

An ERC Advanced Grant has also been awarded to Professor Suzanne Fielding in the Department of Physics, for research into the deformation and flow behaviour of so-called yield stress fluids.

Such materials defy our conventional notions of liquid and solid - keeping their shape as soft solids at low loads, yet yielding and flowing like liquids at larger loads. They are all around us in colloids, emulsions, foams and their biological counterparts, and find widespread applications in foods, pharmaceuticals, construction and many other industries.

Professor Fielding and her team will build new theories aimed at explaining the fascinating flow behaviour of yield stress fluids and develop strategies to control their behaviour in practical applications.

ERC Advanced Grants are designed to support excellent research leaders with a recognised track record of achievements.

Applicants must demonstrate the ground-breaking nature, ambition and feasibility of their scientific proposal.

Job creation

This year, the ERC made 185 awards totalling €450million (£400million) which will lead to the creation of some 1,800 new jobs for post-doctoral fellows, PhD students and other research staff.

Our Department of Geography and Department of Physics at Durham are both leading centres for research and education in the world and are ranked in the top ten (Geography) and top 100 (Physics) in the QS World University Rankings by Subject. 

Find out more

  • Learn more about Geography undergraduate and postgraduate opportunities at Durham.
  • Learn more about Physics undergraduate and postgraduate opportunities at Durham.
  • Professor Louise Amoore is Professor of Political Geography and Deputy Head of Department.
  • Professor Mike Bentley is Head of Department in the Department of Geography.
  • Professor Suzanne Fielding is a Professor in the Department of Physics
  • The European Research Council is the top European funding organisation for new research. Its Advanced Grants are designed to support researchers with recognised track records of achievements, whose proposed projects demonstrate their ground-breaking nature, ambition and feasibility.

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