Charles flies high with the Future Leaders Fellowship

September 17, 2021

A talented senior ecotoxicologist at RSK’s leading regulatory and risk assessment services provider Enviresearch is celebrating after being awarded a prestigious accolade.

Dr Charles Hazlerigg has just been awarded a Future Leaders Fellowship from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the non-departmental public body of the UK government that supports research and innovation in academia and business. Charles is named as one of 97 research and innovation leaders that will receive a share of this year’s £113 million funding for fundamental research and the commercialisation of innovations.

An ecotoxicologist by trade, Charles’s research project is titled “Exploring Mayflies and Bats: Assessing the Risk to Chemicals (EMBARC)”. It is all about developing ecological models that can be used to better inform us on the risk posed by chemicals to the environment, thereby enabling us to make better decisions about their usage. In particular, these models will integrate the principles of ecology with the mechanisms by which chemicals affect individual organisms, thus providing a greater understanding of the pathway from chemical exposure to population resilience. This will address some of the unknowns in current risk assessment methodologies and will enable a move away from arbitrary ‘safety factors’ to a more scientific process. Bats and mayflies provide ideal case studies for the development of these models due to ongoing challenges in research and their application to chemical risk assessment.

RSK company Cambridge Environmental Assessments (CEA), which provides technical and strategic expertise and dossier support for chemical registrations, is a named collaborator on the fellowship – evidence of more successful cross-group teamwork! Experimental work on mayflies is planned at CEA over the first two and half years of the fellowship. Strengthening the research network, other collaborators include Newcastle University Farms, where Charles and his team will conduct field surveys on bats in agricultural landscapes, and Dr Roman Ashauer (Syngenta), a leader in the field of effects modelling, who will provide mentorship and support.

This award from the latest round of the Future Leaders Fellowship scheme will result in major financial investment over the next four years, with the potential for a further three-year extension, giving Charles and the project team the time and resources to make a significant impact in this rapidly evolving area.

“I am absolutely thrilled at becoming a Future Leaders Fellow,” said Charles. “Ecological modelling is an untapped resource in regulatory chemical risk assessment and this funding will provide me with the support necessary to realise this potential to the benefit of farmers, the public, our clients and the environment. Thank you to Enviresearch’s leadership team for supporting my application. I cannot wait to get started next month.”

You can see all the researchers and projects awarded this year’s Future Leaders Fellowship on the UKRI website. Other projects to receive funding include new therapies to tackle chronic illnesses, unlocking the secrets of naturally occurring batteries and robotics to support British farmers, demonstrating the breadth of the sectors supported by the scheme.