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Nearly four million Euros awarded to Bristol academics from ERC for ground-breaking research

Prof Arathi Sriprakash (left) and Dr Oussama Metatla

31 January 2023

Two University of Bristol academics have been awarded prestigious ERC Consolidator Grants totalling almost two million Euros each.

The grants were awarded to Arathi Sriprakash from the School of Education and Oussama Metatla from the Department of Computer Science.

Professor Sriprakash received the award for her project RepairEd: Reparative Futures of Education which will look at identifying and redressing educational injustices.

She is co-author of Learning Whiteness: Education and the Settler Colonial State and co-director of the Centre for Comparative and International Research in Education.

“Understanding the mechanisms of persisting inequities in schooling as well as their forces of social reproduction has been a long-standing focus of research in the field of education,” she explained.

“This project retains that central concern, but it departs from conventional approaches by interrogating the possibility of reparation in systems of schooling.

“This grant will allow me to explore how the idea of reparation might help address the injustices of unequal schooling systems.

“I’m looking forward to building an interdisciplinary team of researchers and working in close partnership with school communities over the next five years.”

Dr Metatla has received funding for his project Inclusive Cross-sensory Social Play: Towards a new paradigm of assistive technology for early development of blind and visually impaired children (inclusiveXplay). This proposal is for interdisciplinary research that will radically change the way experts design, engineer and evaluate assistive technologies for blind and visually impaired (BVI) children.

He is a Senior Lecturer in Human-Computer Interaction and leads the Diverse-Ability Interaction Lab within the Bristol Interaction Group. The lab investigates the design of interactive technologies inclusive of both disabled and non-disabled people in order to transform the conception of assistive technology, accessibility and inclusion in society.

He said: “It aims to move beyond a medical view of visual impairment by integrating notions of embodied and perceptual experience with social engagement and joint meaning making with peers.

“The aim is to carve new directions in technological research for inclusion by focusing on how interactions between disabled and non-disabled children can be facilitated with and through inclusive cross-sensory assistive technologies.

“Instead of viewing disability as a deviation from a biological norm, and assistive technology as a means to redress functional ‘deficits’, I aim to explore disability as a human experience that enriches shared meaning making and assistive technology as a vehicle for inclusive interactions between disabled and non-disabled people.”

A total of 321 researchers have won 2022 European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grants. The funding - worth in total €657 million – is part of the EU’s Horizon Europe programme. It will help scientists, who have seven to 12 years’ experience after their PhDs, to pursue their most promising ideas.

President of the European Research Council Prof. Maria Leptin said: “ERC Consolidator grants support researchers at a crucial time of their careers, strengthening their independence, reinforcing their teams and helping them establish themselves as leaders in their fields. And this backing above all gives them a chance to pursue their scientific dreams.”

Further information

About the ERC

The ERC, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premier European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. It funds creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based across Europe. The ERC offers four core grant schemes: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants, Advanced Grants and Synergy Grants. With its additional Proof of Concept Grant scheme, the ERC helps grantees to bridge the gap between their pioneering research and early phases of its commercialisation. The ERC is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council. Since 1 November 2021, Maria Leptin is the President of the ERC. The overall ERC budget from 2021 to 2027 is more than €16 billion, as part of the Horizon Europe programme, under the responsibility of the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel.

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