Bonn and Emory Collaborative Research Grant Awardees 2023

Shivanee Harshey
Tuesday 25 July 2023

Since 2019, the Global Office has worked closely with our strategic partners at the University of Bonn and Emory University to develop research-led funding programmes that would build upon existing collaboration and support emerging partnerships. The Collaborative Research Grants (CRG) programme fosters international research broadly and is designed to encourage academic staff from all disciplines to identify complementary strengths, explore areas of synergy, and develop outstanding future projects in research and academic innovation. The expectation is that these initial projects will lead to longer-term, self-sustained collaborations and closer institutional and research relations.

We are delighted to announce that in 2023 four projects have been jointly awarded funding with Bonn and Emory. Continue reading to learn more about these innovative projects and hear from the St Andrews PIs about future collaborations.


2023 Bonn – St Andrews Collaborative Research Grant

‘Narrative Space and Possible Worlds: Encountering Ancient Narratives from a Cognitive Science Perspective’

How do people understand and use the stories depicted in texts and art? What gives us a sense of “being there” as we engage stories? And, how do stories encourage a way of seeing and taking our place in the world? This interdisciplinary project aims to answer such questions by investigating the possibilities and limitations of using of cognitive (‘mind’) science, which illuminates how people think, to advance the study of stories that appear in ancient texts and artefacts.

Lenia explaining something to students.

“We are very grateful to have received this grant that will bring together researchers from a variety of disciplines (Classics, Biblical Studies, Art History, Classical Archaeology) and various traditions (Christian, Rabbinic, Islamic, and Buddhist studies), enabling a cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural exchange that will open new vistas for understanding the influence of stories.”

Dr Lenia Kouneni, School of Art History


Coordinating rhythm generation in motor systems: a computational neuroscience collaboration’

The rhythms of life are controlled by rhythmically active neural circuits. Different rhythm generating circuits control different cyclical behaviours such as sleeping, eating, locomoting, mating, and breathing. This Bonn-St Andrews collaborative project, together with Professor Michael Pankratz, will explore how rhythms are coordinated across different brain regions using computational models of neural networks.  A unique feature of this project is that it builds on and overlaps with an Emory-St Andrews Collaborative Research Grant with Dr. Astrid Prinz, allowing researchers interested in this problem from Universities of St Andrews, Bonn and Emory to come together.Stefan Pulver with his dog Roxy Here, work will imitate life. As we study how neural circuits coordinate activity across the nervous system, we will also learn how to coordinate scientific collaboration across St Andrews, Bonn and Emory.

“The collaborative research grant schemes have been  crucial in helping my colleagues and I launch ‘tripodal’ research collaboration across Universities of St Andrews, Bonn and Emory. We hope to complete a collaborative circle by applying for an Emory-Bonn Collaborative Research Grant in the future!”
Dr Stefan Pulver, School of Psychology and Neuroscience



2023 Emory – St Andrews Collaborative Research Grant

Considering Household Division of Labor when Engaging Civic Participation in Environmental Stewardship’

Climate change and environmental policy research often focuses on planetary scale changes, that are challenging for individuals to contextualise in their own environment. Our project focuses on exploring and understanding how individuals engage with environmental stewardship on a hyper-local level: how do individual households understand their environment and are they able to draw connections between their actions, the activities in their community, and the environment around them?Headshot of Jason Jacques. In answering these questions, we will connect households and communities together, combining this network of citizen scientists and environmental sensors, to enhance their understanding through bespoke visualisations customised for these communities.

“It great that the St Andrews is willing to take the initiative to support international collaboration on big questions, including environmental policy and sustainability. Connecting with Kristin, and others at Emory, for this project has offered unique opportunities to build capabilities and contrast the unique needs of communities on both sides of the Atlantic.” Dr Jason Jacques, School of Computer Science


Identification of proteins that buffer nuclear cAMP to regulate signalling: from single-molecule assays to intact cells’

How cells integrate different signaling cues with high spatial and temporal resolution is an important question in cell biology and biophysics. We are interested here in studying a molecule that is thought to play its role predominantly in the cytosol, the semi-fluid space filling the interior of a cell but can be observed also in organelles such as the cell nucleus. Biophysically, the nucleus is an entirely different ‘planet’ to the cytosol, so the project aims at studying fundamental biophysical interactions of our molecule, cAMP, in this relatively ‘new world’. Head shot of Paolo Annibale smilingTo address our problem, we will deploy a set of single molecule spectroscopy approaches and single molecule methods, guided by the motto ‘seeing is believing’.

“I am delighted at the opportunity of initiating this project with Laura and David, pioneers in the single molecule biophysics field. Hopefully this shall be a great platform to bolster students training and strengthen transatlantic links.” Dr Paolo Annibale, School of Physics and Astronomy


The 2023 Bonn-St Andrews Collaborative Research Grant programme is now open and accepting applications until 25 September 2023. The next call of the Emory-St Andrews Collaborative Research Grant programme is expected to open in May 2024. If you have any questions about either of these programmes, please contact Harriet Sheridan at [email protected].

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