A message to our research community from Prof. Jonathan Seckl, Senior Vice-Principal and Dr. Lorna Thomson, Director of Edinburgh Research Office.
Firstly, a note of thanks. To all who have shifted to home working, restructuring your research to desk-based studies, to those who are finding innovative ways to repurpose research to address Covid-19 related problems and to those who are in the laboratory developing tests, treatments or equipment for the Covid-19 response, we are most grateful indeed for your efforts and forbearance. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary people and the University has many of them playing myriad crucial roles. Thank you one and all.
We do appreciate the significant demands placed on you right now as you move teaching online, adjust to working at home and deal with changing and challenging personal circumstances. We acknowledge that some colleagues are being disproportionately affected, whether by caring responsibilities, family illness or frontline NHS commitments. We are working closely with the Deans of Research in each College to understand how we can best support colleagues as you navigate this difficult situation and recover from it.
Many colleagues are funded by external grants and fellowships and we recognise that Covid-19 may have interrupted your research, slowing the production of important results and outputs. Please be assured that we are in close contact with the major funders and are strongly encouraging them to extend grants where work has been subject to material disruption. If you are not able to continue your research at this time, and that may be for any number of reasons, please reach out to your School, Dean of Research or Edinburgh Research Office for advice.
In the midst of this pandemic, we must also endeavour to find the opportunities available to us. Universities will be key to finding a solution to this health emergency, as well as contributing mightily to the rebuilding of our economies and societies afterwards. If you are in a position to continue your research, we will support you to do so. Many of our key funders continue to issue calls. There have been a host of new opportunities related to Covid-19 which we urge you to consider – indeed many of our researchers and their groups are doing so already for which we thank them. Within the University we have repurposed our EPSRC and ESRC IAA awards as well as our Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Funds to make resources available to pump-prime Covid-19 related projects. We strongly encourage you to consider the contribution your research could make.
Also please note that most non Covid-19 UKRI and many other funding streams remain fully open (though some charities have curtailed calls because of financial concerns). If you are able to get a moment between all the other pressures on your time, you may be able to write that exciting grant application. This is a good opportunity to develop your independent grant writing skills. Most fellowship schemes are open, so please apply now if this resonates with you. Post-docs can also sometimes apply on their own for smaller grants, so please speak to Edinburgh Research Office colleagues for help.
Please also consider data-driven innovation and City Deal opportunities. Our University hosts the UK’s national supercomputer and massive datasets which can be interrogated and utilised. For desk based research, what data might you need access to? How can we help you achieve that? There is some City Deal funding to get new Covid-19 related (in the broadest terms) data research underway.
Finally, I want to remind you that our people are the most important asset to the University of Edinburgh. We will come out of this stronger if we take care of ourselves and our teams. Reach out to your colleagues, to potential partners or collaborators, take time to think together about opportunities you may not normally engage with and support one another. This is the time to think big, to show our resilience and how the fantastic research we do at the University Edinburgh will help us all recover.