School of Chemistry researcher Dr Claire Hobday has been awarded a prestigious UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship. Claire joins Dr Amanda Jarvis and Dr Jenni Garden as the third former recipient of the Christina Miller Fellowship to go on to subsequently be awarded a UKRI Future Leader Fellowship.
Claire Hobday's PhD (2013-2016) focused on using crystallography and simulation to understand the mechanical properties and adsorption properties of metal-organic frameworks, for which she was awarded the Sir Fraser and Norma Stoddart PhD Prize. Claire then wanted more experience in simulation so after her PhD, she began postdoctoral work with Prof Tina Düren at the University of Bath (2017-2019). Here, Claire used simulation to understand flexibility in MOFs and zeolites. During this time, she was awarded the British Crystallographic Association Durwand Cruickshank Prize and CCDC Chemical Crystallography Prize for Younger Scientists. Claire moved back to Edinburgh in February 2019 to begin her independent academic career as a Christina Miller fellow, and was appointed Chancellor's Fellow in March 2021.
The investment, delivered through UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship Future Leaders Fellowships scheme, will enable the most promising scientists and researchers in Scotland and across the UK to fund vital equipment and researcher wages to help drive forward their studies more quickly.
I'm ecstatic to have been awarded the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship. This award has given me an amazing opportunity to expand my research group and initiate new research collaborations both academically, industrially and policy based to tackle solid-state refrigeration. My research will look at how we can combine experiments and computational modelling to understand, at the atomic scale, the process of refrigeration in solid-state materials. These materials have the possibility to be more efficient and less environmentally damaging than current refrigerant gases.
Claire went on to explain more about her research and how this UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship will help her. Currently, heating and cooling processes are responsible for 78% of the UK’s environmentally damaging fluorinated gases, such compounds are being phased out due to their devastating environmental impact, with notably high global warming potentials (~2000 times that of CO2). This has created a major technological and scientific challenge to find new refrigeration materials made from sustainable resources, can be easily recycled and have increased efficiency.
One potential solution is using solid-state materials that demonstrate barocaloric effects, this effect relies on the reversible thermal response of solids to hydrostatic pressure. This project will directly help pave the way for cheaper, greener refrigeration and the development of solid-state barocaloric materials as refrigerants will: (1) Reduce the greenhouse gases emissions within the refrigeration industry. (2) Create solid-state materials which can be disposed/recycled more easily than gases. (3) Improve efficiency of the heat transfer, which will reduce energy demands.
We are absolutely delighted for Claire and immensely proud that yet another of our amazing, early-career researchers has gone on to be awarded this prestigious UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship. Claire is now the third former recipient of the School’s Christina Miller Fellowship to be awarded this UKRI accolade. This highlights both the quality of our early-career researchers and the supportive approach that the School takes in nurturing their talent. Claire’s research is incredibly exciting and has huge potential to transform energy-storage technology. We are so proud of her achievements to date and look forward to her future successes.
The Future Leaders Fellowships scheme, which is run by UK Research and Innovation, helps universities and businesses in the UK recruit, develop and retain the world’s best researchers and innovators, regardless of their background. They can apply for up to £1.5 million to support the research and innovation leaders of the future, keeping the UK at the cutting edge of innovation. Each fellowship will last four to seven years. Awardees will each receive between £400,000 and £1.5 million over an initial four years.