Starting research award
Dr Barker’s work sits at the interface of chemistry, physics, biology, engineering and medicine. In particular, he uses soft matter surface chemistry combined with physical and analytical technique development applied to the understanding and manipulation of biological systems for future bio-engineering applications. Rob’s work has been supported by £3m of research grants, including a recent £1.5m EPSRC grant through its New Industrial Systems (Manufacturing the Future) scheme, one of only three made nationally, and the only one to be led by an early career researcher. His success rate on grant applications since appointment is 80% as PI and 50% as Co-I, significantly above the national average for all grant schemes.
Beyond this, Rob has ongoing partnerships with companies, across the pharmaceutical, manufacturing and petrochemical sectors and was recently awarded a Royal Society Short Industrial Fellowship to be embedded with the leading lubricants manufacturer Infineum, whose products are used in one third of all moving vehicles in the world.
In addition, Rob is very active in public engagement and outreach. He has worked with the BBC on a project that led to the involvement of 1,000 primary school children across the UK in engaging with research. More locally, he developed the Plastic Unwrapped project at Dreamland in Margate. The project saw nearly 500 children from local schools, as well as a large number of members of the public, learn about problems associated with discarded plastic products.
His publication record is no less remarkable for an ECR. He has published 41 articles since 2012, 12 of which were in the last two years. His combined activity has been recognised nationally, leading to invitations to participate in prestigious projects and activities, including being a member of the European Spallation Source’s (a £1 billion project) Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel.