£1.7m Leverhulme award for Bristol-Durham knot theory collaboration
10 April 2014
The Leverhulme Trust has awarded one of its prestigious Research Programme Grants to a collaboration between the Universities of Durham and Bristol for ‘SPOCK: Scientific Properties of Complex Knots’.
The £1.7 million project, led by Professor Paul Sutcliffe (from Durham’s Department of Mathematical Sciences) and Professor Mark Dennis (from Bristol’s School of Physics), will involve researchers coming together from diverse and complementary disciplines in both universities, including Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biosciences, Anthropology, Computer Science and Philosophy.
The complexity of the three-dimensional space we live in is exemplified by the complexity of knots as studied mathematically, and many spatial systems across the sciences (including quantum-mechanical and optical wave fields, fluid flows, and tangled polymers and DNA molecules) have knot-like properties. The award will be used to investigate the nature of highly complex and tangled knots occurring in a variety of physical systems, and the interaction of these knots with their environment. This will drive development of new analytical, numerical and experimental techniques in a number of interdisciplinary sub-projects, where experimentalists, theorists, mathematicians and scholars from the humanities can work together to identify and solve problems in applied knot theory.
The Leverhulme Trust is one of the largest providers of all-subject research funding in the UK. For its Research Programme Grants competition, it invites bids against selected themes of research. The grants provide funds to research teams for up to five years to enable them to explore significant thematic issues. The scale of the awards (each one at a sum of up to £1.75 million) is set at a level where it is possible for a research team to study a significant theme in depth by conducting a group of interlinked research projects which taken together can lead to new understanding. The themes are selected not to exclude particular disciplines from the competition but rather to encourage research teams to look upon their established research interests from a set of refreshing viewpoints.