MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

Funding opportunities, news and guidance from RKE at Manchester Metropolitan University


Interview with our New Generation Thinker…

AHRC 2     Dr Louisa Uchum Egbunike, from our Dept of English, is one of  10 academics chosen from a nationwide search by the AHRC and the BBC to find new thinkers with their potential to share their research through broadcasting.  You can see her interview with the AHRC on their website now and here below:

Interview: Louisa Uchum Egbunike

Louisa Uchum Egbunike, in our latest New Generation Thinkers interview, discusses following her passions, determination, perseverance and finding inspiration from her grandmother.


Louisa’s research centres on African literature in which she specialises in Igbo (Nigerian) fiction and culture. Her latest work explores the child’s voice in contemporary fiction on Biafra. She co-convenes an annual Igbo conference at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) and delivers a workshop, ‘Rewriting Africa’ in secondary schools across London. She is curating a ‘Remembering Biafra’ exhibition to open in 2018.

AH: When you pitched to become one of the New Generation Thinkers you focused on Nigerian fiction and culture. Can you explain more about the arts and literary scene of Africa’s most populated country and why you decided to research more about it?

LE: Nigeria is a country with rich and diverse cultures and histories from which many of the country’s writers, musicians and artists take their inspiration. Nigeria is known for its important contribution to the arts, having produced writers such as Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, artists such as Ben Enwonwu, Sokari Douglas Camp and Yinka Shonibare, and musicians such as Fela Kuti, Rex Lawson and Sunny Ade. Nigerian writers and artists have been important voices in discussing the contemporary issues that face the nation. Since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999 after a protracted period of intense military rule there has been a resurgence in writing and publishing. From the mid-1980s until the late 1990s Nigeria saw many of its writers and intellectuals go into exile due to the clamp down on those who were critical of the government. Budding writers such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie left Nigeria to study in America during this period as universities were often engaged in strike action, making earning a degree a long and drawn out process. As such many of the contemporary texts have a diasporic dimension to them, however we are beginning to see narratives of return and more texts set primarily in Nigeria. My interest in Nigerian literature stems from both a love of literature and an interest in deepening my knowledge of the changing conditions in the country and the impact on the lived realities of Nigerians.

AH: Was there a Eureka moment when you knew that you wanted to become an academic?

LE: There was no definitive eureka moment that I can remember. I have always followed my interests, and pursued a field of study that I am passionate about. When I applied to do an MA in African Studies at SOAS, I remember writing in my application that I intended to continue my studies at doctoral level. One of the first academic conferences I attended, at the beginning of my Masters marked the 50th anniversary of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. I relished the opportunity to spend two days discussing a text that had been instrumental in my decision to pursue research in African literature, and I remember listening to a range of academic papers and feeling inspired to contribute to this field of study.

AH: Can you tell me about a key area of research that you’re working on at the moment that really excites you?

LE: I am working on a documentary film project, which marks the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Nigeria-Biafra war and explores the legacy of the first civil war in post-independence Africa. I am working with the filmmaker Nathan Edward Richards, and the film centres on a series of interviews I conduct with artists from the Nigerian Art Society UK. In 2018 we will stage a large exhibition at the Brunei Gallery at SOAS which explores the impact of the war locally and globally and the film explores the war story through the narratives of these artists. We are speaking with the artists who are producing original artwork for this exhibition at different stages in the process. The documentary presents a new approach to engaging with this important aspect of modern history, offering up a wide range of topics, perspectives and mediums through which to engage this subject. I am particularly excited about the potential for this film (which forms part of a broader research project) because of its capacity to reach a wider audience.

AH: Do you have a favourite book that has inspired your passion for African literature?

LE: I first read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart at the age of 11. I was a member of a book club organised by the English department in my secondary school, and I was its youngest member. The other texts we had read prior to Things Fall Apart didn’t resonate with me, but when asked to read Achebe’s most famous novel, I was fascinated by the world he presented which was both familiar and alien. The novel, set in the same region that my father’s family are from, opened up a world that was previously unknown to me. It presented aspects of my culture that are still practiced, but it also introduced me to the history of colonialism, which at the time I knew very little about. It sparked my interest in learning more about the Igbo/African past, and from there I began to read other texts by Chinua Achebe and a host of other African writers.

AH: Is there a historical figure that you particularly identify with?

LE: A figure that I am interested in and inspired by is my great grandmother, who was the Omu (Queen) of Asaba, in the South East of Nigeria in the early 20th Century. According to members of my family, she lived until she was over 100 and was queen after she was widowed, which is the tradition. She held an important role in her community as she was in charge of the market, which was the mainstay of the local economy (the market was also run by women). Her tenacity and good humour were described to me by my father, but in spite of her important position in my family and in her community, I know relatively little about her. She is someone that I would like to learn more about, and so I intend on doing research that draws on both archival material and family knowledge to get a greater sense of who she was.

AH: What advice would you give to someone thinking of following an academic career path?

LE: I would say pursue a subject area that you are passionate about, but also consider where your research fits into your field. Think about the current conversations that are taking place in your field, and consider what your contribution will be. Determination and perseverance are a must, both in terms of completing your thesis and in pursuit of a job.

AH: What role do you see for academics in helping us to understand the lessons of history and meet the challenges of the future?

LE: I do believe that academics play an important role in interrogating and interpreting the past, and projecting the future. My approach to research is that it should be of relevance and significance to my community and to the wider public, as I believe that my research into the Igbo experience should be accessible to the people whom I am discussing. I feel that our capacity as academics to have an impact is tied to our capacity to engage and exchange ideas with an audience that includes but also extends beyond academia. My work contributes to the untangling of complex histories, which in turn contributes to understanding the challenges of the future.

AH: If you could travel back in time to a particular period of history, where would you go?

LE: Having listened to the writer Nawal El Saadawi speak about the emergence of patriarchy in Egypt, referencing the quite distinct gender relations in Ancient Egypt, I would be interested in travelling back to Ancient Egypt to see how the society was organised and what position women held within that society. According to El Saadawi, Ancient Egypt was a matrilineal society and women wielded significant power and influence, which is apparent in the prominence of Isis, the goddess of knowledge.

AH: Do you have any top tips for early career researchers that want to get into radio and TV?

LE: I think as academics we don’t always think about broader audiences, or how our research could be of interest or relevance to the general public. I would advise early career researchers interested in getting into radio and TV to develop a jargon-free pitch that is accessible to someone with limited or no prior knowledge of their field. One of the things that I have had to work on is feeling the need to present a detailed history relating to the topics I want to discuss. I have had to retrain myself to concentrate more on the key points I want to make, and think of the relevance of my topic to a contemporary British audience.

AH: How have your found finding your voice when talking and being interviewed on Radio 3?

LE: I have a newfound respect for regulars on live radio and TV! Initially, after the two Radio 3 interviews I have participated in, there was the feeling that ‘I should have said this, I left that out’, but I have come to accept that I cannot say everything that I want to say on the subject in the time allocated. It has been a good experience learning how to present my research in a new format. I’ve had a lot of experience engaging the public through delivering talks in schools and speaking at events for the general public, but I am definitely developing a new skill set in thinking about how to present my research in the context of a radio interview.



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Newton Fund – New Calls


The Newton Fund have released the following new funding opportunities for researchers:

Newton Mobility Grants

These provide support for international researchers based in South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam to establish and develop collaboration with UK researchers around a specific jointly defined research project. These grants are particularly suited to initiate new collaborative partnerships, between scholars who have not previously worked together, or new initiatives between scholars who have collaborated in the past. The Newton mobility grants from the British Academy cover researchers working in all disciplines within the social sciences and humanities.

Deadline for applications: 14 Sep 16

UK-China PhD Placement Programme

This programme enables UK and Chinese PhD students and their supervisors to spend 3-12 months in Chinese and UK higher education institutions. Applications are welcome in the following fields: health and life sciences; environmental technologies; food and water security; energy; urbanisation; education and creative economy for economic development and social welfare.

Deadline for applications: 20 Sep 16

Fellowships for young Post-Doctoral Researchers

This scheme grants fellowships for international highly qualified PhD students and young post-doctoral researchers to pursue their research in Turkey in the fields of Natural Sciences, Engineering and Technological Sciences, Medical Sciences, Agricultural Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities. Preference will be given to candidates who demonstrate the potential to contribute significantly to Turkey’s goal of international cooperation in scientific and technological development.

Deadline for applications: 7 Oct 16

Fellowships, Research Mobility, and Young Investigator Awards for UK researchers in Brazil

These awards offer an opportunity for the UK researcher to develop the strengths and capabilities of their research groups through training, collaboration and reciprocal visits with a partner in some of the best research groups in the Brazil.UK researchers from the natural sciences, engineering, medical sciences (including clinical or patient-oriented research), social sciences and humanities fields, are eligible to apply for support.

Deadline for applications: 24 Oct 16

CHINA – Sustainable Deltas

This joint activity focuses on research challenges for sustainable and safe deltas within the broader framework of the water sector. A number of thematic areas have been identified, including water availability, water system analysis, salinisation and desiccation, water governance, and new solutions for passenger and freight transportation in deltas and coastal waters.

Deadline for applications: 25 Oct 16

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Fight for Sight Project Grants

Fight for Sight invites applications for its project grants. These support research in all fields of ophthalmology and vision science relevant to the charity’s mission and research priority areas, which are as follows:

•developing and testing new and more effective treatments or improving surgical procedures for a range of different eye diseases and conditions;

•improving the understanding of the causes of eye diseases and conditions, including the further identification of relevant genes;

•developing ways of preventing age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataract and diabetic eye disease;

•improving the early detection of eye diseases and conditions;

•improving, through eye research, the quality of life for adults and children living with sight loss;

•identifying and assessing emerging threats to sight.

Grants are worth up to £170,000 for a maximum period of three years.

The closing date for abstract submissions is 2 November 2016.

For more information, please visit Fight for Sight.

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Today’s Tenders

Take a look at these Tender opportunities for funding in Knowledge Exchange activities. Please pass this on to any colleagues you feel may also be interested. For more information on any opportunity listed, please contact

Economic Impact of EU Referendum on UK Screen Sector

The British Film Institute is seeking to commission research which enables the UK screen sectors to assess the short and medium term consequences of the European Union referendum decision on both the industry itself and on the wider public, and to establish lines of work for future research topics to ensure that the economic and cultural value of the UK’s screen sectors is preserved and continues to grow over the coming years.

Deadline for proposals: 30 August

Employee Engagement and its Applications Research

The purpose of this work is to investigate Employee Engagement, looking at the concept itself, how it is defined, measured, applied within an organisational setting, and any evidence of evaluation. The output will provide a better understanding of the current employee engagement culture and its influence on attitudes relating to job satisfaction and retention. It will also inform the development of line management guidance and non-financial reward structures for understanding how to improve employee engagement.

Deadline for proposals: 31 August

Funding available: Up to £68,000

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Today’s Tenders

Take a look at these Tender opportunities for funding in Knowledge Exchange activities. Please pass this on to any colleagues you feel may also be interested. For more information on any opportunity listed, please contact

Evidence Review of Dementia Friendly Communities

The Department of Health (DH) helps people to live better for longer. We lead, shape and fund health and care in England, making sure people have the support, care and treatment they need, with the compassion, respect and dignity they deserve. As part of its leadership of an EU Joint Action on Dementia work package on dementia friendly communities, DH requires a report describing the global evidence on dementia friendly communities as the first major deliverable of the work package and to inform later deliverables.

Deadline for proposals: 01 September

Funding available: Up to £30,000

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Today’s Tenders

Take a look at these Tender opportunities for funding in Knowledge Exchange activities. Please pass this on to any colleagues you feel may also be interested. For more information on any opportunity listed, please contact

Scoping Study for China Aerospace Industry

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs or his representatives in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is inviting tenders for the provision of a scoping study to support the Chinese aerospace industry in implementing aerospace best practices and international standards, leading to reduced environmental impact and greater air safety.

Deadline for proposals: 24 August

Funding available: £70,000

National Museums Liverpool Regional Impact Report

National Museums Liverpool is looking to commission an organisation to carry out research to demonstrate the organisation’s economic, social, cultural impact professional impact in the Liverpool City Region and the wider North West of England. National Museums Liverpool is looking for the evidence to be drawn together into an advocacy document for its key stakeholders.

Deadline for proposals: 30 August

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Parkinson’s UK: Upcoming free training for researchers in Manchester


Parkinson’s UK are offering any Parkinson’s researchers (basic and clinical) a free half-day Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) training session in two locations in September:

Manchester: 9.30am-1pm, Friday 16th September

This morning session will researchers to understand:

How to involve people and at what stage using case study examples

  • The numerous different methods of involvement they can use
  • Tips for communicating well with people they involve

This session will also give researchers an opportunity to plan involvement in their own research, and will include a networking lunch with people affected by Parkinson’s.

 Researchers can register their interest by emailing or calling 020 7963 9327.