Early Career Research Fellowships in Cultural and Heritage Institutions

Early Career Fellowships in Cultural and Heritage Institutions: a new funding scheme.

About the Project

Generously supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), eight early career research fellows are undertaking research projects, each hosted by an Independent Research Organisation (IRO). The V&A is acting as the Cohort Coordination and Development team for this fellowship scheme.


Since 2006, the status of Independent Research Organisations (IROs) has significantly increased research activity, capacity, and public engagement in the cultural and heritage sector. Research in and with IROs benefits the public as well as the researchers, IROs, and academic community. However, until now there has been no dedicated funding opportunity offered at early career stage for developing research skills in this environment. This scheme addresses that gap, enabling these early career award holders to develop their skills to catalyse research careers in the cultural and heritage sector.


This scheme aims to create new opportunities for early career researchers to build, deepen or broaden their experience of working in cultural and heritage organisations, and to deliver, through the fellows’ projects, high quality and impactful research that will benefit host organisations and their varied audiences. Building on the success of existing programmes such as Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships, the V&A’s aim, as the cohort coordination and development team, is to design a development programme that will help fellows to build a career pathway through and beyond their fellowship.


Each of the eight fellows’ innovative research projects has a set of outcomes that speak to their institution’s and wider sectoral priorities and that will be shared widely with the public through new, public-facing activities, future exhibitions and associated events. Fellows' research projects, and the activities of the cohort coordination and development team, aim to strengthen research capacity and create a blueprint for future research training programmes that can be rolled out across the cultural and heritage sector.

The Team

Dr Marleen Boschen

Future Ecologies of Art: Exploring Kew as a site for past, present and future artistic collaborations - Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

Dr Marleen Boschen’s project Future Ecologies of Art proposes to read artists as crucial conversation partners in engaging with botanical collections, specifically the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Informed by an analysis of selected arts collaborations ... Read more

Dr Ann-Marie Foster

Accessible Pasts, Equitable Futures - Imperial War Museums

Dr Ann-Marie Foster is a public historian with research interests in digital access, crowdsourced collections, and histories of everyday life. Foster’s project, Accessible Pasts, Equitable Futures, picks up on their long-standing interest in archives ... Read more

Dr Thupten Kelsang

Reanimating Tibetan Heritage: Transforming collections, Empowering communities - Victoria and Albert Museum

Thupten’s praxis-based research focuses on creating a sustainable and equitable relationship between the transnational Tibetan diaspora and museums. It seeks to enable displaced Tibetans to access and re-engage with their displaced material heritage i ... Read more

Dr Jennifer Morris

Interpreting Borneo in Britain: Interrogating the colonial legacy of the Charles Hose collections in British museums - The British Museum

Jennifer Morris is a historian specialising in museums and collecting in Borneo. Her project explores the Borneo collections in the British Museum and other institutions, most of which are under-researched and largely inaccessible to Borneo communitie ... Read more

Dr Aparajita Mukhopadhyay

Mediating Imperial Science: Economic Botany and Agrarian Ecology in Colonial South Asia - Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

Dr Aparajita Mukhopadhyay is a historian of the British Empire in the 19th century. Her research sits at the intersection between Imperial History and History of Technology. She is particularly interested in Indian involvement and mediation in scienti ... Read more

Dr Sophia Nicolov

Cetacean (Re)Sources: Reconnecting London's Natural History Museum cetacean specimens with the legacies of empire and whaling - The Natural History Museum

Dr Sophia Nicolov is based in the Natural History Museum’s Cetacea Collection, Vertebrate Division. She is an environmental historian and draws on the interdisciplinary environmental humanities to explore the entangled histories of humans and whales, ... Read more

Dr Siôn Parkinson

Fragrance in the Fungarium: Capturing Heritage Scents of Mushrooms and Mycological Art - Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Siôn Parkinson is an artist, composer and an expert on the cultural history of stinkhorn fungi. He has a PhD in sound studies from the University of Leeds, and he trained as a sculptor at Central Saint Martins and The Slade. Siôn is investigating the ... Read more

Dr Audrey Scardina

The Historic Environment as an agent of change in the climate emergency: a community-centred approach - Historic Environment Scotland

Dr Audrey Scardina is an archaeologist and heritage professional who researches the relationship between communities and their built environment. If we see the historic environment as alive and ever-changing, how does that shift our capacity to engage ... Read more

Steering Committee

Aysha Afridi
- Senior Manager (Collections Development), Arts Council England
Dr Gemma Brown
- Research Development Officer, Amgueddfa Cymru
Ashish Ghadiali
- Founder/Director, Radical Ecology (Steering Committee Chair)
Dr Megan Gooch
- Head of the Centre for Digital Scholarship and Digital Humanities Support, Bodleian Libraries
Dr Allan Sudlow
- Director of Partnerships and Engagement, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Dr Michael Terwey
- Director of Public Engagement & Research, National Trust for Scotland

The Cohort Coordination and Development Team

Joanna Norman
- Principal Investigator, (Director of the V&A Research Institute, National Art Library (NAL) and Archives)
Dr Oliver Cox
- Co-Investigator, (Head of Academic Partnerships)
Eloise Rowley
- Project Coordinator
Header image: Discussion session with Tibetan stakeholders at the V&A, organised by Thupten Kelsang as part of his doctoral research [Image by Peter Kelleher © Victoria and Albert Museum].