Postdoctoral and Early Career Researcher Exchange Scheme

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Postdoctoral and Early Career Researcher Exchange Scheme

Funding must be used to support Postgraduate or Early Career Researcher exchanges with academia and industry in Europe, North America, China and India only. Exchanges may build on existing, or establish new collaborations. Each exchange must be for a minimum period of at least one month. Funding decisions will be made by the SULSA Executive Committee and will be based on:

  • Evidence of the ability of the candidate (output, leadership);
  • Likely benefits to the research of the candidate (new skills, techniques likely to be acquired) as result of the exchange;
  • Likely benefits to the longer-term career of the Postgraduate or Early Career Researcher as result of the exchange;
  • Evidence of wider benefits to SULSA as a result of the exchange; and
  • Prospects of sustained collaboration as a result of the exchange.

Candidates may be the recipient of a single award, up to a maximum of £5,000. The funding must not be used for conferences, training seminars or research costs.

Eligibility Criteria and Conditions

Eligibility Criteria:

The SFC definition of ‘early career’ includes post-graduate students and anyone with a PhD employed as a Researcher, Research Fellow or Lecturer. Promoted staff (Level 9: Senior Lecturer, Senior Research Fellow, or equivalent) are not eligible for PECRE funding.

  • The ECR must be employed with a SULSA department.
  • Visit must take place in Europe (not UK), North America, China or India only.
  • Visits may be used to build on existing, or establish new collaborations.
  • Visit must be for a minimum of one month. This can be applied as one extended trip or several smaller visits to accommodate child care commitments.
  • Eligible costs are restricted to economy travel with subsistence and accommodation rates limited to the values detailed below.
  • Funding must not be used for attendance at conferences, training seminars or similar. You may attend a conference in the country you are visiting but expenses associated with the conference (internal travel, subsistence, conference fees) cannot be claimed. Research costs (including reagents, animals, shipping, facility access fees etc.) are also not eligible under this scheme.
  • Applicants will be asked to provide information for SFC equality monitoring (downloadable form provided). This is a voluntary process and any information provided will be destroyed as soon as the awards have been made. General statistics may be retained for SFC.
  • A short report (2 pages A4) should be submitted to SULSA within three months of the exchange. In addition, a list of outputs should be provided (publications, grant applications etc).
  • Individuals who have previously received an award under this scheme are not eligible to apply for a new award.


  • The exchange must take place within one year of being awarded the PECRE grant
  • A maximum of £5,000 will be awarded for economy travel and subsistence only.
  • Funds will be awarded on receipt of valid, original receipts submitted to the SULSA Operations Officer within 3 months of the expenditure.
  • Failure to provide receipts or a report in a timely manner may result in the funds being re-allocated at SULSA’s discretion.
  • Any changes to planned exchanges must be approved by SULSA.
  • An end of project report must be submitted to SULSA within 3 months of the exchange ending.
  • Requests for further information on outputs/career progression etc. from the exchange at later dates may be requested by SULSA, and must be provided from the recipient.
  • SULSA reserves the right to claw back funds should the grant not be used in accordance with these T&Cs.

Applications must be costed according to the following guidelines:

  • Return air travel limited to: Europe = £300; North America = £600; China & India = £1000
  • Accommodation is limited to £75 per night (for extended trips rented accommodation should be sought)
  • Subsistence will be limited to £25 per day (all receipts must be retained)
Previously Funded Exchanges

2019-20 PECRE Awards:


  • Dr Mohammad Arastoo, University of Aberdeen – exchange to Harvard University for the project ‘Inhibition of tau propagation with a novel antibody panel using fluorescence resonance energy transfer technology and tau uptake assays’
  • Mr Guillermo Bardera, University of the West of Scotland – exchange to Skretting Aquaculture Research Centre, China (Zhuhai, Guangdong) for the project ‘Application of protocols for observing feeding behaviour in the Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) in an industrial context’
  • Dr Antonella Fidanza, University of Edinburgh – exchange to Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute, Barcelona for the project ‘All-in-one Cas9 system for endogenous activation to unveil genes involved In the hematopoietic system development’
  • Dr Jenna Gregory, University of Edinburgh – exchange to New York Genome Centre; Colombia University for the project ‘Interrogating the spatial transcriptome of cognition in ALS patients’
  • Mr Matthew Lee, University of Strathclyde – exchange to University of Tennessee for the project ‘shRNA Knockdown of Gap Junctions in the Endothelium of Intact Blood Vessels’
  • Dr Hannes Maib, University of Dundee – exchange to Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Germany for the project ‘Observation of the mechanism for vesicle tethering by the exocyst complex through cryo-electron tomography’
  • Dr Keila Meginnis, University of Glasgow – exchange to ECONorthwest, Seattle, USA for the project ‘Behaviours and attitudes toward marine debris and consumer waste’
  • Lewis Penny, University of Aberdeen – exchange to Autonomous University of Madrid for the project ‘Therapeutic ranking of an antibody fragment library for mediation of tau based toxicity using neuronal cell models’
  • Dr Carlos Pestana, Robert Gordon University – exchange to National Centre for Scientific Research Demokritos, Athens for the project ‘Radiation-induced degradation products of 2-methylisoborneol and geosmin: the role of different reactive species / Benthic MIB and GSM producing cyanobacteria in the Athens water supply’
  • Dr Natalie Pilakouta, University of Glasgow – exchange to University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for the project ‘Investigating the neurogenomic basis of behaviour in a warming world’
  • Jennifer Shelley, University of Edinburgh – exchange to Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands for the project ‘Human beta-defensin in atopic dermatitis: Using novel human skin models to investigate a mechanism of protection against barrier damage’
  • Ursula Simon, University of Edinburgh – exchange to University of Virginia for the project ‘Modelling and evaluation of 3D printed chromatographic devices for the purification of biologics’
  • Dr Carolina Uggenti, University of Edinburgh – exchange to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the project ‘Histone mRNA misprocessing in disease’
  • Dr Sofie Voerman, Heriot Watt University – exchange to University of the Azores, Portugal for the project ‘Can biodiversity patterns associated to a free-living seaweed be explained by the island theory?’

2018-19 PECRE Awards:


  • Mimi Asogwa, University of Aberdeen – exchange to University of Texas for the project ‘Investigating the role of bacteria mechanosensitive channel YnaI in Salmonella pathogenesis’
  • Dr Abdellah Barakate, University of Dundee – exchange to KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden for the project ‘Spatially Resolved Transcriptome’ (Abdellah Barakate Project Report)
  • Nicholas Jones, University of St Andrews – exchange to Universität Bayreuth, Germany for the project ‘Cognition and foraging niches in archerfish (Toxotes chatareus)’
  • Anastasia Kapara, University of Strathclyde – exchange to Pieris Pharmaceuticals, Boston for the project ‘SERS Imaging of Breast Cancer Using Responsive Enhanced Raman Reporters’
  • Nimrah Munir, University of Edinburgh – exchange to University of Ottawa for the project ‘Incorporation of vitamin E into hydrogels to develop bioactive antioxidant platforms for cartilage regeneration’
  • Zoe Ross, University of Aberdeen – exchange to Centre for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona for the project ‘Whole genome sequence analysis of the newly emerged, multi-drug resistant human-pathogenic fungus Candida auris’
  • Dr Stephen Wallace, University of Edinburgh – exchange to California Institute of Technology for the project ‘Expanding the Chemical Repertoire of Microbes for Sustainable Synthesis via Enzyme Directed Evolution’
  • Dr Daniel Whibley, University of Aberdeen – exchange to University of Michigan for the project ‘The relationship between sleep, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction and chronic pain: Identifying temporal relationships and targets for treatment’ (Daniel Whibley Project Report)


2017-18 PECRE Awards:


  • Emily Abraham, University of St Andrews – exchange to Wageningen University, Netherlands for the project ‘State of the art technologies for hyphenating genomics and metabolomics to enable the expeditious identification and mining potentially bioactive natural products from bacteria’
  • Dr Kathryn Allan, University of Glasgow – exchange to University of Amsterdam for the project ‘Developing capacity for source attribution studies of Leptospira infection in East Africa’ (Kathryn Allan Project Report)
  • Dr Satu Baylan, University of Glasgow – exchange to University of Helsinki for the project ‘Towards the clinical application of music interventions in neurological conditions’
  • Marco Casoli, University of St Andrews – exchange to Mote Marine, Florida for the project ‘Testing the function of signature whistles and other acoustic signals in the bottlenose dolphins’ communication system; an experimental playback approach’
  • Dr Dorota Chapko, University of Aberdeen – exchange to CSI Holdsworth Memorial Hospital, Mysore, India for the project ‘Investigating early-life origins of cognitive reserve and resilience to dementia in the MYNAH cohort in India’
  • Morag Clinton, University of St Andrews – exchange to Pacific Biological Station, Canada for the project ‘Investigating the seasonal microbiome of Atlantic Salmon and trauma associated dysbiosis’
  • Dr Katherine Duncan, University of Strathclyde – exchange to Wageningen University, Netherlands for the project ‘Bioinformatics accelerated antibiotic discovery’
  • Bracy Fertig, University of Glasgow – exchange to Queen’s University, Canada for the project ‘Human arterial smooth muscle cells (HASMC) form distinct cAMP signalosomes in 2-dimensional (2-D) and 3-D environments’
  • Dr Hannah Froy, University of Edinburgh – exchange to Claude Bernard University, Lyon for the project ‘Consequences of variation in early-life environmental conditions for later-life performance: a meta-analysis in wild vertebrate populations’
  • Nadine Godsman, University of Aberdeen – exchange to Universitätsklinikum Würzburg, Germany for the project ‘Metabolic dysfunction in an animal model of takotsubo cardiomyopathy’
  • Dr Jennifer Greaves, University of Strathclyde – exchange to University of Michigan for the project ‘Proteomic profiling of dynamic protein S-acylation’
  • Dr Xu Huang, University of Glasgow – exchange to Perking University, Beijing for the project ‘Establish a novel method to visualise chromatin epigenetic modifications at single-cell level for precision medicine’
  • Dr Barbara Klump, University of St Andrews – exchange to San Diego Zoo Global, Hawaii for the project ‘Tool manufacture and vocal repertoire in Hawaiian crows’
  • Dr Joanna Koszela, University of Edinburgh – exchange to Heinrich Heine University, Dusseldorf for the project ‘Deciphering ubiquitination mechanisms using Multiparameter Fluroscence Detection’
  • Dr Alessia Lepore, University of Edinburgh – exchange to Harvard University, USA for the project ‘Protein quantification at the single molecule level with MACS (Microfluidics Assisted Cell Screening)’
  • Sarah McNeilly, University of Glasgow – exchange to University of Copenhagen for the project ‘ISDoT: in situ decellularization of tissues for high-resolution imaging of native extracellular matrix in Col4a1/a2 mutant mice’
  • Philipp Schwabl, University of Glasgow – exchange to Antwerp, Belgium for the project ‘Genomics and spatial surveillance of neglected tropical diseases’
  • Dr Madeleine Seale, University of Edinburgh – exchange to Ecoles Normales, Lyon for the project ‘The biomechanics of dandelion dispersal’
  • Dr Karolina Subrtova, University of Edinburgh – exchange to Delft University, Netherlands for the project ‘Biophysical Characterization of trypanosoma FoF1- ATP synthase’


Douglas Gibson - Visited The University of Illinois, USA


Pathogenesis of Endometriosis

Doug’s exchange provided him the opportunity to evaluate the therapeutic potential of a small molecule inhibitor as well as utilize a multi-target flow-cytometric assay, as well as to establish an international collaboration.

Since applying for the SULSA funding Doug and his collaborators have successfully obtained >£1.8 million in funding via an MRC program grant on which he is co-investigator. This will support 5 years of research funding to investigate pathogenesis of endometriosis allowing Doug to enhance the reputation of Edinburgh and Scotland as a world-leading center for endometriosis research.

Ruth Morgan - Visited The University of Basel, Switzerland

Exploring the Steroid Biochemistry of Novel Cortisol Metabolites

Ruth’s exchange allowed her to learn new techniques around protein kinetics, in vitro model development using multiple transfections, and the use of molecular modelling software to interrogate the relationship between ligands and receptor/enzymes.

During the exchange Ruth and the team developed the figure list for their publication. They also started writing two grant applications (Wellcome Trust and BHF) together which will incorporate a period of 6 months over a 3-year period at the University of Basel to pursue this project.

Since the exchange Ruth has secured a four year fellowship from the Wellcome trust. A large part of her application was based on the data gathered during her exchange and the fellowship includes a collaboration with Prof Odermatt in Basel.  Ruth’s collaborative paper with Prof Odermatt on Nature Scientific Reports has also been accepted.

Satu Baylan - Visited The University of Helsinki, Finland


“This funding has been immensely helpful at so many levels beyond building an international collaboration. This was also one of the factors contributing to the extension of my contract from a departmental budget (I’m a postdoc working on an open ended contract with a funding end date). I also have to say that the flexibility of the scheme has been great and given me a further opportunity to build collaborations/share knowledge that I would not have otherwise had.”


Nicholas Jones - Visited Universität Bayreuth, Germany


“The SULSA award has been a fantastic door-opener. It has enabled my supervisors and I to collaborate on a project we could not have done at our home institution without spending large amounts of money on technical equipment. More personally, I have benefited from the opportunity to work with and be mentored by a collaborator with a huge amount of experience on our study species, getting valuable feedback and support from him and members of his lab. His lab mostly centres on work in a different field to ours, and perhaps most useful of all, this has given us a different perspective on our work. This interdisciplinary collaboration has already given rise to exciting new ideas we hope to work on together in the future. Thank you SULSA.”