Jali Ardhi. Credit: Carey Marks

This event took place on 29 June 2021.

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a five year, £1.5 billion fund from the UK Government to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. It does this through (a) challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research, and (b) strengthening capacity for research and innovation within both the UK and developing countries, providing an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research need.

The University leads on a wide range of health, science, engineering and arts/humanities GCRF projects that are working across disciplines, in-country to deliver meaningful change.

Taking a world tour from Peru to Cambodia and many places between, attendees heard from leading academics working on current GCRF-funded research that address questions like:

  • How do we improve water quality and security and support communities to be resilient?
  • How do forests respond to climate change?
  • Can marine autonomy support sustainable deep sea fishing?

We were also delighted to welcome Professor Charlotte Watts (Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of Research at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) and Dr Mona Nasseri (Faculty of Ecological Design Thinking at Schumacher College) to share their insights and expertise on the importance and impact of international collaborative research.

Collectively we explored how research evidence can be made accessible, beneficial and appropriate for end users to support practical application that delivers social and economic benefit and impact.

Who was this event for?
This event was of most interest to those who research, study or work in sectors related to sustainability; environmental management and conservation; international research and development; pollution and waste management; socio-politics; marine environments; quality of water, air, food and soils. It was also of relevance to staff planning and supporting applications to funding bodies, postgraduate and PhD communities and those invested in research impact.


Session 1: Delivering robust and meaningful research evidence,chaired by Professor Will Blake, Professor of Catchment Science
09:00 | Welcome and introductionby Dr Claire Kelly, Senior Research Fellow and Professor Will Blake
09:05 | Keynote by Professor Charlotte Watts, Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of Research at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
09:30 | Lightning talks on projects currently funded by GCRF at the University of Plymouth
  • ‘Water security in the agricultural landscapes of Turkey: towards improving the resilience of communities and socio-ecological systems’ by Dr Jessie Woodbridge, Research Fellow in Physical Geography
  • ‘Nuestro Rio (our river): Local perspectives on water quality in the Rio Santa, Peru’ by Dr Sally Rangecroft, Research Fellow in Physical Geography
  • 'A multidisciplinary approach to assess the environmental impacts of landfill sites’ by Professor Awadhesh Jha, Professor of Genetic Toxicology and Ecotoxicology
  • ‘Building capacity to monitor and understand forest response to climate change in Ghana’ by Dr Shalom Addo-Danso, Research Scientist at Forestry Research Institute of Ghana
  • ‘Capacity building for the development of a novel Marine Monitoring and Forecasting System (MaMoFS) to support sustainability of deep sea fishers in the Indian Ocean’ by Dr Sanjay Sharma, Associate Professor in Intelligent Autonomous Control Systems
  • ‘Quantifying the human and environmental threat from antibiotics entering the Lake Victoria watershed under background ad pandemic scenarios’ by Professor Sean Comber, Professor of Environmental Chemistry
10:25 | Case study with Q&A: Saving babies lives in low-resource settings: the case of Siem Reap, Cambodia by Dr Debra Westlake,Research Fellow and Dr Mala Raman, Consultant Paediatrician at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Plymouth
10:45 | Break
Session 2: Embedding participatory action to bring lasting change, chaired by Dr Claire Kelly
NB: This session is intended primarily for University of Plymouth staff and researchers
11:00 | Keynote: Co-designing the future: Using participatory methods to catalyse community supported change by Dr Mona Nasseri, Faculty of Ecological Design Thinking, Schumacher College
11:20 | Roundtable discussions: How can the University of Plymouth strengthen our engagement with end-users and communities, led by Dr Mona Nasseri
Contributions from Dr Sally Rangecroft, Dr Shalom Addo-Danso, Dr Debra Westlake and Dr Mala Raman, plus international colleagues
12:00 | Round-up and conclusion by Professor Jerry Roberts, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) 

Keynote: Dr Mona Nasseri

Mona Nasseri is a senior lecturer and director of Ecological Design Thinking (MA) programme at Schumacher College, Dartington Hall. Her teaching and research is around the subject of participatory approaches to socio-ecological transition and exploring ways in which nuances of a given context are attentively understood and effectively communicated.
Since 2017, she has been involved with Jali Ardhi (Care for the Land in Swahili) project led by the University of Plymouth. As a part of the team, she explores ways to mobilise community- driven social change to mitigate land degradation and its social impacts in North East Africa.
Dr Mona Nasseri
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