Front of the Hazlerigg building

Major success for Loughborough University as several academics become founding members of the UK-wide Young Academy

Loughborough University is delighted to announce that four academics are among the first members of the new UK Young Academy – a network of early career researchers and professionals established to help tackle local and global issues and promote meaningful change.

It makes Loughborough University the home to more UK Young Academy members than any other UK university. 

As part of the first cohort of 67 members, announced today (10 January) by UK and Ireland National Academies, Dr Ana Blanco Alvarez (Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering), Dr Anthony Kevins (Social Sciences and Humanities), Dr Kinga Morsanyi (Science) and Dr Dominic Willmott (Social Sciences and Humanities), will have the opportunity to help shape the strategy and focus of this new organisation, based on areas that matter to them.

Along with their fellow members from across academia, charity organisations and the private sector, they will have the chance to inform local and global policy discussions, galvanising their skills, knowledge, and experience to find innovative solutions to the challenges facing societies now and in the future.

The UK Young Academy has been established as an interdisciplinary collaboration with the following prestigious national academies: the Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Academy, the Learned Society of Wales, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Irish Academy, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and the Royal Society. It joins the global initiative of Young Academies, with the UK Young Academy becoming the 50th to join the Young Academy movement.

Vice-Chancellor and President of Loughborough University, Professor Nick Jennings said: “I am absolutely delighted that four of our staff have become founding members of the UK-wide Young Academy. This prestigious accolade provides an invaluable opportunity for passionate individuals with diverse experiences and expertise to come together to discuss and drive meaningful change on societal challenges. The application process was extremely rigorous and it’s great to see the quality of our staff recognised in this way.”

Loughborough’s Director of Organisational Development, Ffyona Baker, added: “Organisational Development was very pleased to support this initiative. Through the hard work and superb leadership of Enhanced Academic Practice team member, Dr Katryna Kalawsky, an intensive programme of mentoring and training was developed and implemented at pace for those wishing to make an application. We’re incredibly thankful to staff across the University who gave up time to mentor their colleagues and of course, thrilled that so many Loughborough University staff have been selected as founding members of this prestigious group”.

The successful applicants officially took up their posts on 1 January 2023, and their membership runs for five years. You can find out more about the founding members from Loughborough below.

Dr Ana Blanco Alvarez

Ana is currently a Senior Lecturer in Infrastructure Engineering. She completed her undergraduate studies in civil engineering before undertaking an MSc and PhD at Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya in Barcelona. Dr Alvarez’s research explores novel methods and materials for repairing and maintaining civil infrastructure and multifunctional and high-performance cementitious composites.

I am very enthusiastic about joining the UK Young Academy and working with talented professionals across disciplines to address issues of vital interest to the UK. The first cohort of the UK Young Academy will carry the responsibility to set the standards and lead the way for future members which is a task I am eager to undertake. I want to emphasize the fantastic work of Organisational Development at Loughborough University for supporting applicants and organising the training sessions. Their support was extremely useful.”

Image of Dr Ana facing the camera wearing a red shirt with a grey background behind her

Dr Anthony Kevins

Dr Kevins works at Loughborough University as a Lecturer in Politics and International Studies, researching the link between public opinion and the actions and decisions of policymakers. In particular, he is interested in using public opinion data and survey experiences to investigate how governments and elected representatives can find solutions to issues such as climate change and inequality with the help of their citizenry.

Anthony completed a PhD in Political Science from McGill University and has previously worked in the Department of Political Science at Aarhus University as well as the Utrecht University of Governance.

I’m delighted to get to serve as a founding member of the UK Young Academy. From climate change to public health crises to worsening inequality, these are clearly challenging times – but I’m looking forward to putting my knowledge and skills as a political scientist to wider use, working with researchers, professionals, and practitioners from a range of backgrounds to help develop concrete solutions to pressing societal issues.”

Close up headshot of Dr Anthony Kevins, smiling face on at the camera wearing a grey shirt

Dr Kinga Morsanyi

As a Senior Lecturer in Mathematical Cognition at Loughborough, Dr Morsanyi’s research is centred around mathematics learning, but her expertise also encompasses reasoning and decision-making, educational approaches to improving thinking skills, as well as motivational and emotional aspects of learning.

Kinga has authored and co-authored more than 60 publications and edits several scientific journals. Furthermore, she has secured 17 research grants over the last 15 years.  

Prior to Loughborough, Dr Morsanyi worked at the University of Cambridge, Queen’s University Belfast, and the University of Geneva, Switzerland.

“I am really excited about the opportunity to join the UK Young Academy, and the potential to be part of an organisation that promises to be a driving force of positive societal change at a time when it is most needed. What makes this organisation really special is that it cuts across disciplines and sectors, bringing together inspiring people from a wide range of backgrounds, and (through its connections with Young Academies worldwide) from a large number of countries.

“I am hoping to make good contributions to the work of the UK Young Academy, especially in the areas of improved communication of scientific findings, promoting equity in access to knowledge and education, tacking low levels of numeracy within the UK and worldwide, and providing help, support and opportunities for people with learning disabilities.”

Headshot of Kinga with her hair tied up wearing a pink roll neck jumper, smiling at the camera with a bookshelf behind her 

Dr Dominic Willmott

Dom’s research examines the bias within the Criminal Justice system, with a particular focus on the role of rape myths in jury and juror decision-making. He has worked alongside UK policymakers within this area, contributing to discussions around the need for jury reform as well as effective solutions to reduce juror bias in trials.

More widely, Dom – who is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and a Chartered Psychologist – also has an interest in interventions to tackle gender-based violence.

“It is an honour to be selected as one of the founding members of the UK Young Academy. I have great hope that this newly established vehicle for change will help to make a real difference globally by adopting such an innovative, collaborative and transdisciplinary approach to tackling the key issues that face the world today. To represent Loughborough University as an institution is very exciting and I hope to be able to ensure that tackling gender-based violence is at the forefront of the UK Young Academy’s agenda.”

Headshot of Dom, smiling straight on at the camera wearing a black top