Overview of the NEWS India-UK Fellowship

In September 2018, the last NEWS India-UK fellowship ended, concluding a successful capacity-building activity within the virtual centre. The fellowship scheme offered an opportunity to 22 Indian scientists (10 junior fellows and 12 senior fellows) to visit Scotland, to carry out cutting-edge nitrogen research in collaboration with the UK partner institutes of NEWS.

At the three UK host institutes (the University of Aberdeen, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and the University of Edinburgh), a large range of research topics was covered. In Aberdeen there was a strong emphasis on ecological and environmental modelling – fellows got familiar with models like ORATOR, RotC and DNDC – as well as on genetic mapping rice, with a special focus on genom-wide association studies (GWAS). At CEH, most of the fellows got training in ammonia concentration and flux measurement techniques (Eddy Covariance System, ALPHA samplers and AMANDA); however, a fellow also got the opportunity to participate in the development of a new ammonia emission inventory for India. The University of Edinburgh supported the regional scale atmospheric modelling studies of a junior researcher, and provided insight to the work of the UK Biochar Research Centre for a senior scientist.

Apart from establishing a strong base for future co-operation with several Indian institutes and researchers, the fellowship scheme also supported the development of the Nitrogen MOOC, by sponsoring the course development work of Hannah Ritchie, a junior fellow from the University of Edinburgh. In addition, the programme also funded 3 months of research of Jize Jiang, a masters student at the University of Edinburgh, simulating ammonia emissions from poultry.

As is clear from the blog posts of the Indian fellows, the fellowship scheme was not just a great opportunity for academic and professional development, but also an outstanding personal experience for the fellows. Beside their academic duties, most of the fellows took a chance to explore their Scottish surroundings, from the green hills of the Highlands to seal-watching on Newburgh beach. Several fellows did not stop at the Scottish border: many of them organised a trip to London, some of them visited Paris (as part of a scientific visit to the French National Institute for Agricultural Research), and in one of the blog posts we read about a trip to Istanbul as well.

All in all, the NEWS India-UK turned out to be a very successful programme, not just in terms of capacity-building but also in terms of both the academic and personal experiences of the awarded fellows. Built on the success of the fellowship scheme, the co-ordinators of the programme are hoping to apply the model to a larger scale scheme within the UKRI GCRG South Asian Nitrogen Hub from the year 2020.

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