Research in Focus: in-FLAME

The Worldwide Universities Network offers seed funding to promote and enhance high-impact research. It supports activities that lead to high quality research outputs, multilateral, global research collaborations and external funding applications. 

The WUN Research Development Fund enables members to develop their research partnerships and build competitive data to attract external funding. Leading WUN projects demonstrate how strategic investment in promising research can make a significant impact.
 
Program: in-FLAME
Academic Lead: Professor Susan Prescott
For more information visit the in-FLAME website.  


                          A conversation with Professor Susan Prescott




What is your top achievement in research with WUN?


I believe our greatest achievement is in establishing a thriving network that is built on strong relationships and friendship as much as it is on science and research. We have also actively recruited people from many fields. This creates the perfect environment to promote collaborative ideas and capitalize on opportunities. These gains and achievements are far less tangible in the short-term then traditional ‘research outputs’, but we believe that they will have far greater potential into the future.

We don’t believe the value of our network should be measured by traditional metrics alone. That said, we have also had success in traditional research metrics. This includes:

• 56 manuscripts for publication.
• Research grants totalling $234,000 (approximately).
• Industry partnerships.
• We have a strong early career research network.

(See in-FLAME's annual reports for details)

What is your ambition in the next three years?

We have secured a research collaborative award funding at the University of Western Australia for our newest initiative that will provide an integrative systems framework for understanding the eco-biological impact of living      environments (including biodiversity) on microbial diversity and life-course human health from the perspective of omics and nature relatedness. 

The Working Group, conceived at the recent WUN in-FLAME workshop earlier this year in Maastricht, will be led by UWA and is (to our knowledge) the first initiative to take a broad and integrated approach which recognises the interrelated and interdependent nature of these challenges, and bring together wide-ranging expertise across multiple domains – the only way these challenges can be addressed.

The main outcomes will be a series of projects and publications (including new perspectives, position statements, advocacy for change, and original research papers).

In particular we have developed a new Global Environment Initiative which will be the focus of our next meeting in New York.

What are the obstacles? How can WUN help?

As always the main obstacle is recurring funding. Because our network depends on regular meetings, these must be funded by sources other than ‘project funding’. And we have different outputs because this is not simply a ‘research project’. The other challenge is logistics support as we become increasingly large.

We have tried to solve these issues ourselves without depending on WUN. To address both of these issues (above) we have established a membership fee system, and we have employed a PCO as both a secretariat (taking membership fees, holding accounts, arranging email bulletins, managing registration and bookings) and to help arrange our conferences. We will use the membership fees to pay for these secretariat costs. We anticipate that this will make us more independent of WUN going forward.

We want to express our gratitude that WUN provided such a critical overarching umbrella as we were becoming established. It lent considerable credibility when we were starting out. Being part of WUN provided a vital pathway to connect with universities we had not previously collaborated with (such as Maastricht University).

What are the criteria that make in-FLAME distinct and a winner for WUN?

We are a cohesive network that has become a thriving community of like-minded people. We have expertise from a wide number of fields which gives novel perspectives and our interests are broad and evolving with each workshop. There is a large number of enthusiastic young researchers involved and we work on a broad number of integrated projects.

Please see in-FLAME's annual reports for more information, and click on the link below to register for in-FLAME's annual workshop, this year in New York City as part of the WUN Conference and AGM 2017.