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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/I000992/1
Title: Models and Mathematics in LifE and Social Sciences (MILES).
Principal Investigator: Hoyle, Professor R
Other Investigators:
McFadden, Professor J Gilbert, Professor GN Krause, Professor P
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Mathematics
Organisation: University of Surrey
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 13 October 2010 Ends: 31 January 2014 Value (£): 650,305
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Mathematical Analysis Statistics & Appl. Probability
Theoretical biology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
22 Feb 2010 Bridging the Gaps Call 4 Interview Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Mathematical contributors to the social and life sciences typically aim to provide insight by building a model and solving it using ingenious techniques and computer programmes whose details can be inaccessible to researchers in the host discipline. Mathematicians equally can be surprised to discover that these disciplines themselves use quite different kinds of models, in unfamiliar ways to seemingly perplexing ends. Revolutionary progress comes when researchers from all the relevant disciplines create new kinds of models together, owned and exploited by them all. We plan a programme of networking, idea-generation and collaboration activities focused on modelling approaches to the life and social sciences, their synergies and dissonances. We shall explore the different types of model used in different disciplines, the extent to which the models themselves, modelling methods (ways in which models are created and validated), methodologies (the philosophy of science behind modelling) and ways of using models (e.g. for understanding or prediction) can be transferred between disciplines, and when and how to create entirely new modelling frameworks. We shall emphasise three themes of particular interest to research groups in the university, where different disciplines have distinct perspectives: 1) sustainability, 2) the 'in silico' cell, 3) mathematical and computational techniques in social science and biology. Our programme will, however, include activities across the wide span of life and social science modelling, with further occasional events on modelling in the broadest sense, to examine the opportunities for dialogue with other disciplines in the University (e.g. English, Drama, Music, Film, Psychology, Management).The University hosts several highly successful multidisciplinary centres, such as the Centre for Environmental Strategy, the Advanced Technology Institute and the Surrey Space Centre and projects including the ESRC Research Group on Lifestyles, Value and Environment and the EngD programme in Environmental Technology. We see the potential for similar successful interaction between Mathematics, Computing, and the social and life sciences. To achieve it, we must create the circumstances that encourage individuals to take part in multidisciplinary projects, by suggesting to them that to approach another discipline with curiosity but no immediate solutions is of great value, by providing opportunities to meet people from other disciplines and time to learn in detail about their perspectives, issues and interests and to develop a common language, and by offering incentives to embark on risky research adventures.Our three-year programme of activities to stimulate new collaborations in life and social science modelling will be coordinated by a dedicated full-time facilitator, and include: externally facilitated annual sandpits with research pump-priming fund prizes; discipline hopping funding for mathematicians, computer and physical scientists and engineers to spend time in life/social science departments; a monthly Caf Scientifique; multidisciplinary workshops and networking events; a visiting scholar programme; funding for feasibility studies; a virtual forum and wiki for online discussion and collaboration.Research projects conceived and developed during the programme will lead to follow-on grant applications. Owing to the strength of the contributing research groups, we expect the consequent impact on the UK cross-disciplinary research profile to be significant. Our ultimate aim is to create a sense of excitement about stepping beyond traditional subject boundaries and thinking creatively about working with a wide range of potential collaborators, so that the cultural changes initiated by this programme will be sustainable in the longer term, and cross-disciplinary research will continue to flourish at the University into the future.
Key Findings
MILES was a project designed to stimulate and foster new interdisciplinary research collaborations across the University of Surrey through a programme of events and funding opportunities.

MILES funded 31 Feasibility Studies, 10 Discipline Hops, 5 Visiting Scholars and 5 Workshops. Including those funded under our additional BtG allocations, we supported 116 collaborators across all four faculties of the university.

We also designed and organised 8 Networking Events, 20 Cafe Scientifique-inspired Collaboration Cafe events, 12 Behind the Scenes Tours of labs, research centres and workshops, 2 Interdisciplinarity in Practice events, 2 Creative Collaboration workshops, 2 sandpit-inspired Ideas Exchange events, an Industry and Stakeholder Day, 6 Showcase Events presenting the MILES funded projects, a Meet the Architect event creating connections with local experts and professionals and 'Halfway MILES', a celebration and sharing at the midway point of the MILES programme. MILES concluded with a final event 'Collaboration Surrey: the MILES we've come' that presented the work of the MILES funded projects to the university's research community and launched Collaboration Surrey, the internally funded successor to the MILES programme.

The key findings of the MILES funded projects are described in the many individual outcomes listed for this grant. Our final report on our MILES and BtG funded activities can be downloaded here: http://www.miles.surrey.ac.uk/celebrate
Potential use in non-academic contexts
Many of the MILES funded projects have the potential for use in non-academic contexts. Where appropriate, more information can be found in the individual outcomes listed.
Description Summary of the impact of the MILES programme to date
Summary MILES has had a transformative effect upon interdisciplinary research at Surrey, as demonstrated through the creation of 31 new research projects, the funding of 10 discipline hops, 5 visiting scholars and 5 interdisciplinary workshops. Including those funded under our additional BtG allocations, we supported 116 collaborators across all four faculties of the university. Academic impact beyond Surrey has come about through workshops and interaction with visiting scholars. For example, we part-funded an international academic workshop on quantum biology, bringing together biologists and physicists around a theme with the potential for truly transformative research. So far, the demonstrable external impact of MILES has mainly been through public engagement: we have contributed to Bright Club Guildford through training researchers to perform stand-up comedy about their research and so to interest non-traditional audiences in science, and we have held public dance performances, such as `Solid Senses', whose choreography was inspired by icosahedral symmetry and its appearance in virus structure. One of our most successful projects 'Beyond the Visual: Augmented Reality in Spaces of Exhibition' held a public dissemination event at Watts Gallery to demonstrate its technology to potential museum and gallery partners and to the media, while 'Community Microbes' engaged members of the public and schoolchildren in running ‘kitchen sink’ microbiology experiments. Many of our other individual projects have had external impact, and/or have had or will in due course have academic impact; where available details can be found in the individual outcome reports filed under this grant. MILES has focused on supporting early stage interdisciplinary research collaborations and so we expect demonstrable research outcomes to continue to emerge over the next few years as the projects that we initiated mature. We intend to update this impact summary regularly to reflect the new outcomes.
Date Materialised 14 June 2011
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
Creative Economy; Education; Museums & Collections; Other
Project URL: http://www.miles.surrey.ac.uk/
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.surrey.ac.uk