Mobility scholarships

The academic community is, of course, international and goes beyond boundaries imaginatively and literally and we want to give our research students the best possible chance of working, collaborating and researching in the global environment.

To this end, a number of mobility scholarships are available each year.

These scholarships are aimed at promoting new collaborations between groups, and will enable the research students to work in internationally renowned laboratories or research environments (including field work). The funding promotes:

  • International collaboration
  • Excellence in research and training
  • Output and Impact
  • Sustainability


Featured destinations

Each year at least 15 students are awarded mobility funding from the Graduate School in order to undertake international research. This has led to students working, for example, at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro , Harvard University, CERN, the Universities of Auckland, Sydney and Ottowa and undertaking research fieldwork in Egypt, China, Bolivia and Japan.

Receiving mobility funding and studying at an international institution for a short period is a fantastic opportunity and something for which we are keen to provide continued support. In the three years we have provided mobility funding, this has resulted in a considerable number of publications and the vast majority of students find that their mobility experience has contributed significantly to the direction of their research.

Read more about the destinations of just some of the mobility experiences we have supported so far below.

North Carolina, USA

Photo of Mobility Scholarship trip 2016Alexandra Vossen: Psychology

University of North Carolina

In July 2016, I visited the University of North Carolina in the USA, working within the Frolich lab for two months. The purpose of the visit was chiefly educational, with a focus on learning about computational modelling of neurons and neural networks; the simulation of neuronal dynamics is an increasingly important line of research in my area of study, and the Frolich lab had produced some of the most relevant work.

During my stay at the Frolich lab, I gained experience with interesting patient EEG data recorded with a system that I had not used before, and had the opportunity to learn different data processing and analysis approaches (including their advantages and problems) that are standard at the Frohlich lab but, prior to my visit, were not generally employed at Glasgow. I also received training in the modelling of individual neuron and neural network dynamics, and developed a neural network model for use in running hypothesis-driven simulations, with the potential for subsequent publication of the results.

I experienced a very different lab environment with a very efficient management structure, high (both in quantity and impact) research output at different levels of neuroscience research (from brain slices over animal research to patient studies), and strong communication between the different subgroups. This experience not only shaped my perception of "science as business" but also provided a very rich, stimulating, and inspiring environment that emphasised the greater context of my own research and the many different angles from which my topic (i.e., inducing neural oscillations by electrical stimulation) can be tackled.

Tokyo, Japan

Salim Al-Wasity: Engineering

Tokyo Institute of Technology

In May 2015, I undertook a month-long placement with the Tokyo Institute of Technology’s Precision and Intelligence Laboratory in Japan. The purpose of the visit was to develop a sophisticated decoding algorithm for fMRI neurofeedback and to investigate the neural representation of human posture and action. During the visit, I had access to the Institute’s advanced facilities, including a 3-tesla fMRI scanner (GE, Sigma HDxt 3.0T) and 32 channels active Electrodes EEG device (G-Tech USBAmp).

Thanks to the visit, the Laboratory received a grant from KAKENHI for the joint research, and part of the work was submitted as an abstract for the Organisation for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM)’s 2016 conference. It also started a 3 year collaboration between Professor Yasuharu Koike of the Institute and Dr Frank Pollick of the University of Glasgow to study the neural representation of cognitive process of human posture and motion for 3 years.

Salim Al-Wasity mobility funding photo

Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

Hazel Long: Geographical & Earth Sciences

Kangerlussuaq International Science Support Centre

In 2014, I visitited to Kangerlussuaq International Science Support Centre (KISS) in SW Greenland for 5 weeks. Greenland is a location particularly vulnerable to climate change as it is predicted to warm at up to three times the global average by the end of the century, and it is often considered the ‘canary in the coalmine’ of climate change, because of the response of the ice sheet to climate change. In addition, although published CO2 efflux data exists, global coverage is incomplete, and is particularly lacking in high latitude regions and the tropics (Raymond et al., 2013).

During my visit, I worked with researchers from across the world to gather radiocarbon data relating to CO2 efflux, offering a significant contribution to a growing body of UK-led research. Despite the many challenges and mosquito bites I endured during the trip, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.  I learned a huge amount about planning, organising and executing fieldwork in a remote overseas location, I was forced to take control of my research and decisions (due to limited contact possibilities) giving me valuable experience towards becoming an independent researcher, and through the work itself and interactions with other arctic researchers I find myself inspired to pursue a career in arctic carbon cycling and climate change.  I would like to thank the Mobility Funding for helping to make this trip possible.

Los Angeles, USA

Martin LaveryMartin Lavery: Physics and Astronomy 

University of Southern California

‌My research visit allowed me to develop as an independent researcher, giving me the opportunity and freedom to explore a new field of research - Optical Engineering, form my own research ideas and work within a new and unfamiliar environment.

Interacting with researchers from different backgrounds and knowledge bases is vital for the development of new novel ideas. Each research field has its own language associated with it, being a Physicist working with engineers I was required to use correct analogies and phraseology to concisely communicate ideas. This was a very important experience to have during my studies, and will prepare me well for a future as an academic.

Glasgow scientist wins top UK award 

My visit was also an opportunity to experience living in a different location and culture. Los Angeles is, of course, one of the USA’s largest cities and I had the chance to explore the city, meet new people from varied backgrounds and attend many interesting events that would have not been possible in Glasgow. Along with being productive during the trip (it resulted in four publications), I also had a lot of fun and have many fond memories of my time during my mobility experience.

This research visit has allowed the formation of a close working relationship between USC and UofG, working towards shared goals for the development of next generation communications technology. Both teams are working together on numerous projects which will result in collaboration for the foreseeable future. 

Olympic Stadium in Los Angeles


Anna Laing: Geographical & Earth Sciences

Bolivia, Latin America and the cities of Cochabamba, La Paz, Santa Cruz and Trinidad

‌The purpose of my visits was to conduct ethnographic fieldwork for my PhD research in Human Geography. The research studies an Amazonian indigenous protest movement in resistance to the Bolivian’s governments plan to build a road through an indigenous territory and national park, popularly known as the TIPNIS [Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Secure; Indigenous Territory and Isiboro Securé National Park].

The mobility scholarship provided the funds necessary to carry out the research. Without this I would not have been able to achieve any of the tangible outcomes of the visit including further grant funding, the opportunity to stage a photography exhibition and publications and conference papers. Furthermore, it facilitated my Spanish language training for three months in the city of Cochabamba, which was necessary to carry out the 65 interviews I conducted as part of the research.

Whilst in Bolivia I established connections with CESU [Centro de Estudios Superiores Universitarios; Centre for Advanced University Studies], part of the University of San Simón in Cochabamba where I worked with sociologists with expertise in indigenous studies and Bolivian politics. I also made links with the organisation CIDOB [Confederacíon de Pueblos Indígenas de Bolivia; Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia] that represents the Amazonian indigenous peoples of Bolivia. This allowed me to gain important interviews and knowledge of indigenous politics.

Anna Laing

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Reuben Aspden

Reuben Aspden: Physics and Astronomy

Quantum Optics Laboratory, Institute of Physics, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Working in a different lab environment has both broadened and deepened my understanding of my PhD topic. I have also gained valuable experience designing and developing experiments both from a theoretical and an experimental perspective. 

The group in Rio de Janeiro has a strong theoretical background and works on utilising quantum phenomena mostly within quantum information science. I benefitted from this expertise through regular interaction and discussion with other group members. I also benefitted from working on an experiment which, whilst designed to give similar results to the system in Glasgow, uses the optical components in a different manner, thus enhancing my understanding of how to build and develop experiments. 

Ultimately, the time spent working in the Quantum Optics group in Rio de Janeiro, enabled due to financial support from the mobility scholarship, proved to be very fruitful both in terms of developing my own research skills and subject knowledge as well as strengthening existing relationships between the two research groups.  

Hokkaido, Japan

Jill McColl: Geographical and Earth Sciences

Jill McCollIn summer 2012, Dr Jaime Toney (Glasgow University), Dr Osamu Seki (Hokkaido University) and I conducted a catchment vegetation survey of Lake Toyoni.

This project was successful in building on collaborations between Glasgow University and Hokkaido University. Fieldwork was conducted on Lake Toyoni, Hokkaido with Dr. Osamu Seki (Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University) and involved a survey to identify the main vegetation in the lake catchment and also leaf samples were collected at intervals up slope to the top of the drainage basin.

As added value during this trip to Japan, I also visited Dr. Yoshihiro Shiraiwa, the leader of the Laboratory of Plant Physiology and Metabolism at the University of Tsukuba and Dr. Mary-Helene Noel at the National Institute of Environmental Sciences (NIES), Tsukuba. I gave invited talks during my time at these institutions. This was a great opportunity to discuss my research with our new Japanese collaborators. A new, joint collaboration was formed with Dr. Noel and Dr. Shiraiwa which will be used to develop a modern temperature calibration for specific algal biomarkers in Lake Toyoni. This calibration will likely be applicable to other lakes in Hokkaido region and provide preliminary data to support a proposal for a large collaborative grant to one of the major funding agencies in Japan or the UK.

The long-term sustainability of this funding will be through future collaborations, research and publications between Glasgow University and the universities in Japan. 

San Diego, USA

Wangpeng Feng: Geographical and Earth Sciences

Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

I am a third-year PhD student in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, supervised by Dr Zhenhong Li and Prof Trevor Hoey. My PhD project aims to use geodetic observations, in particular Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry (InSAR), to understand earthquake-related surface deformation processes. I attempt to explore the regional crustal stress status by combining coseismic and postseismic physical processes, which can be determined by geodetic modeling. I was awarded a Graduate School mobility scholarship to spend three months in the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) of Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), University of California, San Diego (UCSD) from September 2013 to December 2013 working with Prof Yuri Fialko to explore the major physical mechanisms contributing to the postseismic motion following the 2010 MW6.8 Yushu earthquake .

The result of my visit are that there is now a positive link between the geodetic teams in UoG and SIO which we expect will lead to wider cooperation in the near future and that other postgraduates in UoG will benefit from my experiences in SIO, in particular those working on geophysics.

While in California I stayed with a German family and I sometimes got the chance to enjoy German food. The family was very friendly and accommodating and they made me feel less pressure about my visit.

Auckland, New Zealand

Niall Patrick MacDonald: Biomedical Engineering

University of Auckland

For the final year of my PhD in Biomedical Engineering I wanted to explore 3D printing in microfabrication for diagnostic biodevices. In order to develop my research ideas further I chose to pursue an existing collaboration with a research group specialising in BioMEMS . The mobility scholarship allowed me to spend 4 months in Auckland, New Zealand where they have a state-of-the-art multi-jet-modelling (MJM) printer capable of high-quality transparent models.

The 3R’s of animal testing (reduction, refinement and replacement) are an ongoing area of research for the scientific community. In my PhD I investigated the use of microfabricated devices to reduce the need for the use of animals in toxicity testing. Zebrafish are well positioned to do this, however automated methods for analysis are lacking. During my visit I led the development process for 3D printed microfluidic devices for zebrafish by co-ordinating between the department of chemistry, life sciences and mechanical engineering.  In doing so I successfully investigated commercially available 3D printing technologies for rapid prototyping and low volume fabrication of Lab-on-a-Chip devices. The visit and subsequent research led to a high-profile conference (SPIE Micro + Nano materials), several publications and continued research.

In addition to the science and engineering, my visit was a very positive one from both a personal and professional perspective. Visiting another research group allowed the development of teamwork and leadership skills as well as providing a fresh angle on research ideas. It was also an unforgettable experience due to new friendships and fantastic outdoor adventures in parkour and climbing.

The research visit to New Zealand was invaluable in contributing to my thesis final chapter on 3D printing methods for microfluidics. This collaboration strengthened the link between the Auckland University and the University of Glasgow working towards shared goals for improved medical diagnostic devices for toxicity testing. In addition to this due to the success of this work, I initiated a new collaboration with the Medical Research Council (MRC), Edinburgh on returning to the UK.‌

Auckland, New Zealand scholarship picture for Niall Patrick MacDonald: Biomedical Engineering

South Africa

Marnie Norris & Rebecca Skuce: Engineering and Geographical & Earth Sciences

North-West University, South Africa

The aim of the visit was to collaborate with North-West University in order to utilise nanotechnology for enhancing heavy metal removal from acid mine drainage which is a devastating environmental problem throughout South Africa.

We benefited from seeing acid mine drainage from mining wastes first hand as well as being able to learn about it from a leading academic institution with experience and research addressing the issue.

South Africa’s mining legacy has left the country with a host of acid mine drainage (AMD) problems, to which North-West University are key leaders in the area of remediation strategies. However, owing to the extent of the pollution involved, the techniques used fail to remediate all of the heavy metal pollutants, leaving treated waters with an alarmingly high heavy metal content to be released into the environment.

This visit was a great experience that I am grateful for. Being able to see the environmental impact of mining in another country first-hand would not have been possible without the mobility scholarship.

Marnie Norris & Rebecca Skuce

Dahab, Egypt

Heidi Burdett: Geographical and Earth Sciences

Heidi BurdettFunding was provided to enable fieldwork of two linked projects on the coral reefs of the South Sinai Peninsula, Egypt.

Whilst in Egypt, we (the research also involved my fellow student Penelope Donohue) were based at the Dahab Marine Research Centre, which provided us with dry and wet laboratory space for post-collection sample preparation; all analytical analyses were conducted in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences (GES) at the University of Glasgow.

The DMRC is ideally located on the South Sinai Peninsula, with excellent facilities for the diving and snorkeling-based fieldwork that formed the basis of this proposal. Penelope and I are both commercially qualified divers and are part of the University of Glasgow’s scientific dive team.

The research trip provided me with an invaluable experience of working in a tropical marine environment, which I am continuing to pursue in my current position as an independent research fellow at the University of St Andrews, funded by the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS). The results of the mobility scholarship contributed to the ocean acidification chapter of my PhD thesis, which I passed with minor corrections in February 2013.

The School of Biology, and my previous PhD supervisor, Dr Nick Kamenos from GES, take part in an annual tropical marine biology field course in Dahab; since our Mobility-funded research trip, the students have had the opportunity to learn some of the state-of-the-art techniques we refined during our Mobility-funded research trip, such as recording the photosynthesis of algae on the reef using underwater Pulse Amplitude Modulation fluorometry. The visit also led to an award winning paper in the journal Plos One, and a number of international conference presentations.