Winners of the latest round of British Academy and Royal Society Newton International Fellowships include researchers who will be based in Oxford's science area. Dr Valentin Fischer will be joining the Department of Earth Sciences and Dr Matthew Levy will be joining the Department of Physics.
The Newton International Fellowships provide an opportunity for some of the most talented early career post-doctoral researchers working overseas to carry out world class research in UK institutions across all disciplines of humanities, engineering, and natural and social sciences. Fellows receive support in the region of £100,000 each for a two year placement in the UK.
Belgian researcher Dr Valentin Fischer has sparked a palaeontological revolution in the study of ichthyosaurs, so-called ‘fish-lizards’ that plied the seas millions of years ago while dinosaurs inhabited the land. Ichthyosaurs have been the subject of scientific investigation for over two centuries, but in the course of his short career Valentin has substantially changed entrenched ideas about the evolution of this remarkable group. He was one of a handful of recipients of a Vocatio award, established for Belgians under 30 in order to recognize major contributions to diverse disciplines ranging from performance art to science. At Oxford, Valentin will draw on local expertise on other groups of extinct marine animals to in order to investigate the effects of changing environmental conditions on creatures occupying the very highest tiers of ocean food chains during the geological past. A spokesperson for the Department of Earth Sciences said, "We are delighted that Valentin will join us for the next two years, and look forward to future collaborations with him that will be facilitated by the Newton Fellowship scheme".
Dr Matthew Levy has been identified as one of the leading young theoretical plasma physicists in the US, recognised by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in its award to him of the Lawrence Scholarship in 2011. At Oxford he has already made his mark by being elected as Junior Research Fellow of Wolfson College. During the two years he will spend in Oxford he will explore the new physics at extreme intensities using both current and next generation laser systems. This is a fascinating area of study in that certain quantum effects, previously negligible, can no longer be ignored. He will incorporate them into his new energy absorption model, published earlier this year in Nature Communications, to explore the intensity frontier. A spokesperson for the Department of Physics said, "We are awaiting Dr Levy's many fruitful and fascinating discoveries with anticipation. We also expect that, when he returns to America in a few years’ time, those enduring and close ties of friendship and scholarship between our two nations will be significantly enhanced".
Dr Fabricia Ferreira do Nascimento from Brazil, whose research focuses on the evolution of endogenous retroviruses in vertebrate genomes, will also be coming to Oxford.
Find out more on the Fellowships website.