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2018 Newton Prize shortlist

The shortlist for the prestigious £1 million 2018 Newton Prize has been published, featuring 22 proposals between researchers in the UK and Brazil, Chile*, Colombia and Mexico.

Read the project case studies in our Newton Prize 2018 booklet.

Each year the Newton Prize is awarded to projects that demonstrate the best science or innovation; promoting the economic development and social welfare of Newton partner countries. The prize sheds light on the challenges faced by the developing world and how Newton Fund partnerships are helping to solve them. It also incentivises researchers to join the Newton Fund as partners with the UK to address global challenges such as poverty, climate change and public health. 

This year 140 Newton funded projects, fellowships or other awards applied for the Newton Prize. Four prizes of up to £200,000 each will be awarded to winning projects with the eligible Latin American countries. There will also be an additional prize (the Chair’s Award) of £200,000 for a project with the potential for broader impact with other developing countries.   

Applications for this year’s prize were received from a range of institutions, including universities and companies from the UK and abroad. Shortlisted applications take on numerous sustainable development goals: from improving health and wellbeing to reducing inequalities, building sustainable cities, and contributing to peace and justice. They also span the Newton Fund’s three pillars of work: the development of people, new research, and translating ideas into innovations.

Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, Newton Prize Committee Chair and President of the Royal Society and Nobel Laureate, said: “As the Chair of the judging committee I am thrilled that we have such an exciting and competitive shortlist and I look forward to working with the international judging committee to decide the winners.

“One of the aims of the Newton Prize is to highlight the lasting partnerships developed between UK researchers and their colleagues in Newton Fund partner countries to solve global challenges.

“Latin America has a wealth of excellent researchers working in collaboration with the UK to tackle issues as diverse as post conflict studies, biodiversity, health and energy through the Newton Fund partnerships in the region.  Science and innovation often depends on working in partnership across the globe: sharing knowledge and resources to enhance our understanding and make discoveries with the potential to change lives.”

Sir Venki leads a distinguished and independent Newton Prize committee with expertise in the development sector, the Latin American region as well as science and innovation. The committee will review the short-listed applications, along with feedback from expert peer reviewers, and choose the winners. 

During November the shortlisted projects below will be celebrated at award events taking place in Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, where the winning project for that country will be announced. These events will be followed by a UK reception in December hosted by Sam Gyimah MP, the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation to celebrate international and science innovation collaborations.

The shortlisted applications are as follows:  


WINNER Environmental and territorial management in indigenous lands among the Guarani people in the south and south east of Brazil
Project partners: Jerome Lewis, Reader at the Centre for the Anthropology of Sustainability - CAOS at University College London and Daniel Calazans Pierri, General Coordination Member for the Centro de Trabalho Indigenista – CTI.

Mobilising the value of bio-cultural collections in Brazil
Project partners: William Milliken, Research Leader, Diversity and Livelihoods, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Viviane Stern da Fonseca Kruel, Research Associate at the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro Institute of Research – JBRJ.

Characterisation of Leishmania–specific T cells in skin and blood during cutaneous and mucocotaneous leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania brasiliensis

Project partners: Professor Arne Akbar, University College London and Daniel Gomes, Professor at the Federal University of Espírito Santo.

Building research capacity for schistosomiasis drug discovery and development through high-content imaging and structural molecular biology studies

Project partners: Associate Professor Nicholas Furnham, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Floriano Silva-Jr, Full Researcher, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation.

Acoustophoretic technology: from theory to application
Project partners: Professor Bruce Drinkwater, University of Bristol and Glauber Silva, Associate Professor, Physical Acoustics Group, Federal University of Alagoas.

Identifying novel intervention strategies to overcome early embryo exposure to environmental stresses: Can we grow robust cattle to sustainably enhance food production?
Project lead: Niamh Forde, University Academic Fellow, University of Leeds and Juliano Coelho da Silveira, Universidade de São Paulo. 


Political technologies of memory: a genealogy of the devices of registration and denunciation of human rights violations under the military dictatorship in Chile (1973- 2013)
Project partners: Professor Vikki Bell, Goldsmiths University of London and Oriana Bernasconi, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Alberto Hurtado University.

Utilising functional genomic variation for improved disease resistance in Chilean salmon aquaculture
Project partners:  Ross Houston, Personal Chair of Aquaculture Genetics, The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh and Jose Yanez, Associate Professor, University of Chile.

WINNER Resilient planning of low-carbon power systems 
Project partners: Professor Pierluigi Mancarella, University of Manchester and Rodrigo Moreno, Assistant Professor, University of Chile.

New configurations of power converters for grid interconnection systems

Project partners: Jon Clare, Head of the Power Electronics, Machines and Control Research Group, University of Nottingham and Marco Rivera, Head of Energy Conversions and Power Electrics Laboratory, University of Talca.


WINNER Valorisation of agro-industrial waste: A Bioelectrochemical System for waste degradation and energy recovery from industrial coffee waste

Project partners: Associate Professor Lina María Agudelo Escobar, Microbiology School of University of Antioquia and Dr Claudio Avignone-Rossa, University of Surrey

Harnessing innovation in city development for social equity and wellbeing: a critical proposal to build on Medellin’s experience as a model for Colombian future cities
Project partners: Maria Soledad Garcia Ferrari, Senior Lecturer in Architectural Design, University of Edinburgh and Monica Elizabeth Mejia Escalante, Professor, National University of Colombia Medellín Campus.

Linking the power of omic technologies to translational research on neglected tropical diseases

Project partners: Richard Burchmore, Senior Lecturer, University of Glasgow and Maria Adelaida Gomez, Coordinator, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Unit, CIDEIM International Training and Medical Research Center.

Sustainable products from biomass
Project partners: Professor Magdalena Titirici, Queen Mary University of London and Diana Lopez, Professor and Group Coordinator, University of Antioquia.

Intelligent metering device for water, energy and other resources
Project lead: Jimy Alexander Aguirre, Hardware Coordinator.

Self-sustainable gold mining process​​​​​​​
Project partners: Lesli Zapata Sánchez, Co-founder and Assistant Management, Nanotecol, Lina Marcela Hoyos, Co-founder, Professor Universidad Bolivariana, Nanotecol and Yudira Zapata Sánchez, Co-founder and manager and project manager, Nanotecol


Phycopigments: Novel manufacturing methods for high value pigment products from microalgae​​​​​​​
Project partners: Dr Robert Lovitt, Director, Membranology ltd. and Eugenia Olgiun, Professor and Head of Department, Inecol.

Renewable energy source based on the recovery, purification and storage of hydrogen from chlor-alkali plants​​​​​​​
Project partners: Abraham Chávez Ramírez, Researcher, Center of Research and Technologic Development in Electrochemistry (CITETEQ) and Dr. David Hodgson, PV3 Technologies 

Interventions to improve maternal metabolic profile and prevent cardio-metabolic and behavioural deficits in future generations due to programming by maternal obesity​​​​​​​
Project partners: Paul Taylor, Reader, King's College London and Elena Zambrano, Professor of Reproductive Biology at Institute of Health Sciences and Nutrition.

Verum VR Medical
Project lead: Fabio Antonio Gonzalez Sanchez, Chief Executive, Verum VR Medical.

WINNER Manipulation of bean pod stomata to improve yield under drought and climate change​​​​​​​
Project partners: Caspar Chater, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Global Fellow, IBT UNAM. University of Sheffield and Professor Alejandra Covarrubias, IBT UNAM.

Distribution of arsenic on agricultural soils and its influence on exposure risks through maize ingestion and agricultural activities in Matehuala, San Luis Potosi, Mexico​​​​​​​

Project partners: Professor Bhaskar Sen Gupta, Heriot-Watt University and Nadia Martinez-Villegas, Associate Professor of Applied Geosciences, Potosino Institute for Scientific and Technological Research AC (IPICYT).



  1. Chile has recently graduated from the DAC list of developing countries and is no longer eligible for ODA funding. Chile is included in the 2018 Newton Prize because it has been a Newton Fund country since the fund was established in 2014 and has supported excellent research collaborations that have delivered impact in Chile and more broadly. Prize money won by a Newton-Picarte project will be spent in line with ODA guidance - addressing broader regional and global development challenges, which build on existing Chilean and UK strengths and relationships. Such joint work to address global challenges is in line with our changing science and innovation relationship with Chile.


Find out more:

Read the Newton Prize 2018 shortlist case studies:

Read about the 2017 Newton Prize winners: India, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam

Read our latest blogs from Newton Prize winning projects

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