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Three new Bangor academics among Sêr Cymru talent welcomed by Minister

Attracting new international talent to Wales to increase our already impressive scientific research and development capabilities is essential for Wales’ economic prosperity and our ability to compete effectively across global marketplaces.

This is the message from Wales’ Skills and Science Minister, Julie James as she welcomed the latest tranche of international research Fellows and Chairs to Wales at a special reception in Cardiff last night [27 February 2017] to celebrate Sêr Cymru investments and the start of the second phase of the programme.

Sêr Cymru II aims to build on the success of the original Sêr Cymru programme, which supported the establishment of four Sêr Cymru Chairs and three research networks in Wales across STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine) subject areas.

This latest phase of the programme involves more than £45m investment - £29m from European funding streams - and it will fund more research chairs, ‘Rising Stars’ and research fellowships and include special support for those returning to work following a career break.

Among those welcomed were Dr Jinyang Wang and Dr Lars Markesteijn; who join the School of Environment, Natural Resources & Geography and Dr Andrew Foote, who joins the School of Biological Sciences

Dr Wang’s research will provide the agricultural industry, policymakers and associated stakeholders with new management tools for future-proofing Welsh agriculture against extremes and uncertainties in weather.

Dr Lars Markesteijn, a specialist in the field of tropical forests. Dr Markesteijn’s research will investigate what is holding back the recovery of tropical forests, so that we can design better ways to give nature a helping hand and restore a thriving tropical forest with all of its variety of plants and animals.

Dr Andrew Foote is an expert on the evolutionary processes of the killer whale. By tracking evolution through time, his work will enable a better understanding of the processes by which organisms adapt to their environment and how rapidly these genetic changes occur.

Led by the Welsh Government, Sêr Cymru delivers funding from the European Union (both COFUND via Horizon 2020 and European Regional Development fund via WEFO), the Welsh Higher Education sector and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW).

The funding deployed through the programme aims to attract and develop some of the world’s best scientific research talent in Wales, to deliver economic growth and high quality jobs.

The overall investment in the programme since its launch in 2013 now stands at nearly £100m.

Welcoming the latest tranche of Sêr Cymru II talent, Skills and Science Minister, Julie James said: “Increasing our already impressive research capabilities by attracting brilliant new talent to Wales helps to drive up our economic prosperity by creating well paid and stimulating jobs. 

“Sêr Cymru really is a partnership approach, bringing together Welsh Government, European and academic resources to deliver a programme that places Wales at the cutting edge of research developments aimed at tackling real issues such as human disease, new energy sources and innovative manufacturing and materials technologies.

“Building our research capacity also makes Wales more attractive for further investment and helps to raise our profile on an international stage. Our research discoveries can also be commercialised, creating more and better jobs for Wales which we aim to develop and keep here.”

Wales’ Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Julie Williams, added: “This programme will produce a step change in research capacity and put Wales firmly on the map as a centre of scientific discovery. These young people will be the leaders of tomorrow.”

Publication date: 28 February 2017