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Profile pictures show smiling Dr Hannah Williams and Dr Francesca Fragkoudi

Researchers in our Department of Physics have been recognised for their excellence in a prestigious national fellowship scheme.

The Future Leaders Fellowships (FLF) are awarded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to support talented people in universities, businesses, and other research and innovation environments.  

Two of our Physics researchers, Dr Hannah Williams and Dr Francesca Fragkoudi, have each been awarded FLFs to support their pioneering work. 

Quantum simulation 

Hannah has received £1.97million towards her Molecules for Quantum Simulation project. 

Her aim is to develop a platform for quantum simulation using molecules which are trapped and cooled using lasers.  

A quantum simulator will allow us to understand mysteries of the Universe which can't be solved using classical computational methods.  

Hannah said: “I am over the moon to have been awarded this fellowship.  

“It will allow me not only to build a cutting-edge experiment but also to champion and support women and individuals from underrepresented groups in the field of quantum physics.”  

Shedding light on Dark Matter  

Francesca’s research focuses on the elusive substance known as Dark Matter, which is thought to make up most of the mass of the Universe.  

Dark Matter affects the motions of stars in spiral galaxies in intriguing ways; in particular, the properties of galactic stellar bars such as the one in the Milky Way are highly dependent on the existence and nature of Dark Matter.  

Francesca and her team will use the £1.66million FLF award to produce theoretical predictions of the dynamical properties of barred galaxies in various Dark Matter frameworks. 

Francesca said: “My research, which is focused on galactic dynamics, will provide the theoretical predictions needed to interpret vast amounts of observational data, in order to shed light on the nature of Dark Matter, and to uncover how the Milky Way formed.  

“I’m excited for the next few years to come!" 

Inspiring future leaders 

The FLF will also help Francesca organise STEM and Leadership Summer Camps at Durham for girls from post-conflict and socio-economically disadvantaged regions, thus empowering these young women to be future leaders in STEM. 

Hannah is planning a series of events in North East England to promote engagement with quantum technology for people from backgrounds which are traditionally underrepresented within physics. 

Main photo shows Dr Hannah Williams left, and Dr Francesca Fragkoudi, right.  

Find out more 

  • Read more about the work of Dr Hannah Williams 
  • Explore the work of Dr Francesca Fragkoudi  
  • Our Department of Physics is a thriving centre for research and education. Ranked 2nd in the UK by The Guardian University Guide 2023 and in the World Top 100 in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023, we are proud to deliver a teaching and learning experience for students which closely aligns with the research-intensive values and practices of the University.  
  • Feeling inspired? Visit our Physics webpages to learn more about our postgraduate and undergraduate programmes.