About us

We are dedicated to creating a collaborative and inspiring environment, bringing together researchers from across all disciplines to deliver ambitious, transformative research that makes a difference to the wider world.

We do this by funding interdisciplinary teams to extend the boundaries of human knowledge. We bring outstanding academics from around the world to the University of Leicester for research collaboration and to enrich our environment. We offer our academics a stimulating and provocative events programme that showcases excellent scholarship and liberates debates.

Meet the team

lisa smithProfessor Lisa Smith - Director 


Professor Lisa Smith (right) is Professor of Criminology, and an advocate for interdisciplinary approaches in her area of research expertise (forensic science and criminal justice). Lisa has led large-scale multidisciplinary research projects (e.g. the INTREPID Forensics EU-funded ITN), and collaborates regularly with colleagues from a wide range of social, physical and natural sciences as well as industry, NGO and government partners. In her role as Editor-in-Chief of Science and Justice, Lisa champions high-quality, interdisciplinary research and debate about the role of science in the criminal justice process.

di levineDr Diane Levine - Deputy Director and Manager


Dr Diane Levine (left) completed an ESRC-funded PhD at the University of Warwick, following a career as a teacher, programme manager and as a senior manager in the civil service. Di has a particular interest in interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the role technology can (and cannot) play in helping children and adolescents engage in the worlds around them, and in developing their resilience. She is co-author of Oxford University Press’ best-selling textbooks on computing for 4-14 year olds.

Charlotte King - Fellowships and Communications Co-Ordinator


Charlotte King is the Fellowships and Communications coordinator at the Leicester Institute for Advanced Studies. As such, she supports respective academic visiting Fellowship scheme cohorts within the Leicester Institute for Advanced Studies, and oversees the strategic Communications channels running in conjunction with the Institute’s activities and outputs.

Meet the LIAS Advisory Group

Professor Rick Rylance (Chair)

Professor Rylance is Dean and Chief Executive of the School of Advanced Study and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), University of London. He has also held the roles of Chief Executive  of the Arts and Humanities Council (AHRC), and dean at the universities of Exeter and Anglia Ruskin. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1998, and Founding Fellow of the English Association in 1999. His main research interests are in 19th and 20th century literature, the history of psychology, and the psychology of reading.

Professor Andrew Fry

Professor Fry is Professor of Cell Biology and College Director of Research (Life Sciences) at the University of Leicester. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, and his research aims to better understand the biology of cancer in order to develop more effective treatments for patients.

Austen Okonweze

Austen is Head of Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. He was previously Head of Digital Skills Policy and Assistant Director of Cyber Science and Innovation at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and has particular interests in the interface between strategic policy, innovation, and practice.

Professor Clare Wood

Professor Wood joined Nottingham Trent University in May 2017. Prior to that she was Executive Director of the Centre for Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement at Coventry University. Her nterests are concerned with children’s reading and legal literacy development, and digital technology. Her work has been supported by the Leverhulme Trust, Education Endowment Foundation, and European Research Council.

Dr Joshua Vande Hey

Dr Vande Hey is Lecturer in Environment and Health at the University of Leicester. After beginning his research in optics and atmospheric sensor engineering, his focus is now on understanding indoor and outdoor air pollution, its effects on human health, and exposure mitigation strategies in both the UK and other countries.

Dr Laura Meagher

Dr Meagher is an independent consultant in strategic change in research and higher education, specialising in the development and evaluation of innovative approaches including interdisciplinarity, impact-generation and capacity-building, as well as in writing about and providing masterclasses/workshops on these processes. Along with peer-reviewed articles, she has co-authored the book Interdisciplinary Research Journeys: Practical Strategies for Capturing Creativity, available in paperback or free online, Bloomsbury Press.

Professor Lisanne Gibson

Professor Gibson is Professor of Culture and Society, and Dean of Research (Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities) at the University of Leicester. She specialises in the relations between culture and ‘the social’ across the fields of heritage, museum studies, cultural and cultural policy studies, cultural geography, and sociology. She is a member of the AHRC ‘Care for the Future’ Steering Group, and has been a member of a wide range of funding, publishing and strategic panels in the UK, China, Norway and Holland.

Professor Mark Purnell

Professor Purnell is Professor of Palaeobiology and Director of Research (Science and Engineering) at the University of Leicester. His work ranges across functional morphology, palaeobiology and palaeoecology, and taxonomy, and focuses on developing tooth microwear analysis of feeding in fishes and dinosaurs, and the evolution of complexity in vertebrates. Professor Purnell has collaborators across the UK, USA, China and Canada; he was awarded the Hinde Medal of the Pander Society in 2006, and was Vice-President of the Palaeontological Association between 2003-2005.