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Global Challenges Research Fund: New Strategic Advisory Group members


Three new members have been appointed to the Strategic Advisory Group which advises on the development and delivery of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). GCRF is a UK government initiative which funds research and innovation on global development challenges. The group provides independent expert, multidisciplinary advice to ensure GCRF addresses the problems faced by developing countries.

Bringing with them a wealth of experience from education to geography, they will join the 12 current members to advise on:

  • engagement with research and stakeholder communities and the facilitation of new ideas and opportunities
  • the development of a strategic research agenda and prioritisation of challenge topics
  • the effectiveness of UKRI strategies and mechanisms, including mechanisms to build capability where it is needed to address existing deficits
  • integration of ODA and non-ODA challenge research, where this is sensible to do so
  • the allocation of research funding, consistent with the Haldane principle.

The Strategic Advisory Group was set up in 2016 by the research councils in partnership with the National Academies, colleagues from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for International Development (DFID). UKRI is the secretariat on behalf all the delivery partners involved in GCRF.

Nitya Rao is Professor, Gender and Development at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom. She has worked extensively as a researcher and advocate in the field of women’s rights, employment and education for over three decades. Her research interests include exploring the gendered changes in land and agrarian relations, migration and livelihoods, especially in contexts of climatic variability and economic precarity. She has done fine-grained research on households and intra-household dynamics in these contexts to draw out implications for gendered wellbeing, empowerment and justice, with a particular focus on food, nutrition and health security. She has published extensively on these themes in international peer-reviewed journals and books.

Ben Ramalingam is a researcher, author, advisor and facilitator focusing on global development and humanitarian issues. His research agenda includes economy and inequality; government and service delivery; citizenship, activism and rights; sustainability, resilience and humanitarianism; and digital practices, tools and methods.

He previously served as Head of Research and Development at ALNAP, a unique multi-stakeholder network for aid effectiveness, performance and learning. Prior to this, he led the Knowledge and Learning research programme at the Overseas Development Institute and was Deputy Director of the Humanitarian Futures Programme based at Kings College London. He has also worked in strategy consulting and investment banking.

Professor João Porto de Albuquerque is Director of the Institute of Global Sustainable Development at the University of Warwick, and a Turing Fellow at The Alan Turing Institute. Professor Porto de Albuquerque is a digital geographer and computer scientist with an interdisciplinary background working on Global Sustainable Development. He has experience in working on transdisciplinary research projects in collaboration with partners in several countries in the global South (e.g. Brazil, Bangladesh, Colombia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan) with competitive research funds secured in excess of £2.5m as PI (£8.5m as Co-I) from diverse national and international funding bodies. He is currently leading a research programme aimed at empowering deprived communities in the global South to produce citizen-generated data and improve resilience to health and environmental risks.

Standing down from the Strategic Advisory Group this year are Professor Barbara Evans, Professor Katrina Brown, Professor Jim Watson and Simon Trace. We would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their service and valuable contribution to the GCRF over the last three years.

Details on the selection process can be found here: GCRF Strategic Advisory Group Call for Nominations. And full membership of the group can be found here: Global Challenge Research Fund: Strategic Advisory Group

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