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Parliamentary Thematic Research Leads

Over 2023, Parliament and the ESRC have piloted a new role in Parliament: the Thematic Research Lead. Evidence suggests that these prestigious and influential roles are making a positive impact. As a result, in 2024, Parliament will partner with UKRI to expand Parliament’s network of Thematic Research Leads across a wider range of academic disciplines and policy areas.  

What are Parliamentary Thematic Research Leads?

TRLs are mid-career researchers embedded three days a week in Parliament, whilst retaining their substantive academic post for the remaining time.  

The purpose of the TRL is to facilitate and enhance the use of research evidence and expertise in Parliament (in both the House of Commons and House of Lords) through effective knowledge exchange, collaboration and processes. Each TRL leads on a specific policy area. 

To achieve this, TRLs conduct three primary activities:  

  • strategic support for the production and delivery of research evidence for Parliament, within a broad policy area 
  • activities to support the development of a Research, Development and Innovation ecosystem that facilitates and encourages knowledge exchange between Parliament and the research community  
  • participation in a network of Thematic Research Leads to share intelligence and insights across policy areas.  

Thematic Research Leads 2023 – 2024  

Parliament’s current Thematic Research Leads took up their position in January 2023. They will remain in these ESRC-funded roles until Summer 2024. They are: 

  • Professor Tamsin Edwards, Thematic Research Lead on Climate and Environment (and Professor in Climate Change, King's College London) 
  • Dr Kristen A Harkness, Thematic Research Lead on International Affairs and National Security (and Senior Lecturer and Director of the Institute for the Study of War and Strategy, University of St Andrews) 
  • Professor Rick Whitaker, Thematic Research Lead on Parliament, Public Administration and Constitution (and Professor in Politics, University of Leicester)  

Thematic Research Leads 2024 – 2026 

UK Parliament will be partnering with UKRI to deliver an expanded network of Parliamentary Thematic Research Leads. We will be recruiting to eight positions from a broad range of scientific and research disciplines:  

  • AI and digital 
  • Arts and humanities   
  • Business, economics and trade   
  • Climate and environment   
  • Crime and justice   
  • Health 
  • International affairs and national security   
  • Transport  

These part-time roles, funded by UKRI and supported by all of UKRI’s research councils, will be appointed to work with UK Parliament from September 2024 to summer 2026. The call to apply for one of these positions will go live on this web page in December. The call will also be announced through the KEU’s weekly round-up; sign up here: