Our team

The Future Leaders Fellows Development Network brings together partners spanning all four nations of the UK and all sectors of the research and innovation ecosystem. At its core are partners from the following organisations:

  • University of Edinburgh (lead)
  • Cardiff University
  • Queen’s University Belfast
  • School of Advanced Study
  • University College London
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Leeds
  • Vertical Future

Combined, our team have decades of expertise in engaging, supporting and developing emerging research leaders. We’ve drawn on this experience to develop a bespoke leadership capability framework to help you realise your fullest potential as innovators, collaborators and influencers.

Through our established and growing partnerships and relationships, we will connect you with an unrivalled network of local, national and global leaders across the research and innovation landscape and beyond.


Connect with a specialist

If you want to talk to any of the Network’s team about our specialisms, start by contacting us at hello@flfdevnet.com (or using the form at the bottom of this page) and we’ll put you in touch with the right person to help.

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Sara Shinton


Sara is the Head of Researcher Development at the University of Edinburgh and leads on the University’s Concordat response. She has a particular interest in inclusive research cultures, collaboration and wellbeing.

As Director, Sara engages with our partner organisations and their broad range of networks, promoting the Future Leaders Fellows Development Network and our Fellows to global and national leaders in research and innovation.

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Steve Joy

Deputy Director - Specialist in leadership development

Steve is the Deputy Director of the Future Leaders Fellows Development Network and a freelance Leadership and Career Consultant. He has been working with researchers for over thirteen years, including five years as a Postdoc Careers Adviser and, latterly, four years as Head of Researcher Development at the University of Cambridge.

Steve works closely with Dr Tracey Stead and Dr Liam Morgan to plan and deliver the Network’s training and development programme, including the bespoke 360 Feedback Programme designed for Fellows. He has led sessions on self-leadership, inclusion, and career management. As Deputy Director, Steve supports the Director, Dr Sara Shinton, particularly by liaising with UKRI colleagues and Network delivery partners.

Steve is Co-Lead for our Training & Development Working Group.

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Bridget Mellifont

Deputy Director - Community Manager

Bridget has previously worked as Policy and Project Officer at the University of Edinburgh, developing research strategy with a focus on research culture. Prior to that she supported the development and communication of UK national policy, and has built relationships in HEIs and local and national governments across the UK.

As Community Manager, Bridget acts as a liaison between Fellows in the Network and our broad range of partners, acts as Chair of the Plus Fund Review Group, and contributes to the Network’s strategic decision making.

Bridget is Lead for our Cohort Experience Working Group.

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Barry Smith

Specialist in knowledge exchange and public engagement

Barry is the Director of the Institute of Philosophy and its Centre for the Study of the Senses at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. He is the founding director of the Being Human Festival and since 2013 has been the AHRC’s Leadership Fellow for the Science in Culture Theme.

As lead on public engagement, Barry provides support for Fellows and identifies opportunities for them to engage the public with their research. He also helps to sustain and develop knowledge exchange relationships with the Network’s partners in other sectors to give Fellows the change to extend the impact of their research.

Barry is a member of our Research & Innovation Environment Working Group.


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Samantha Aspinall

Specialist in interdisciplinary research

Samantha is the Head of Interdisciplinary Development in the Horizons Institute at the University of Leeds and a panel member for Future Leaders Fellows. She has worked on development programmes for academics and research staff for over 20 years, but exploring disciplinary boundaries is her real passion.

Sam is a member of our Research & Innovation Environment Working Group.

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Paul Monahan


Paul is a Learning & Development Consultant at Queen’s University Belfast, co-ordinating a range of development activities for research staff. He manages the Queen’s Fellowship Academy and supports mentoring across the University.

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Tracey Stead

Specialist in leadership development and coaching

Tracey is a trainer, facilitator and certified professional coach, with over 20 years of experience that spans academia and research, public and private sector. She runs a successful consultancy, working across the UK and internationally, specialising in leadership coaching, training and development with researchers at all stages of their career, as well as their stakeholders and funders.

Her role in the Network is to work closely with Dr Steve Joy to provide a responsive and diverse programme of leadership training and events to meet the needs of emerging and future research leaders. This involves commissioning and curating online training, facilitating in-person leadership retreats and coordinating 1:1 coaching (including 360 feedback) for all the researchers in our network.

Tracey is Co-Lead of our Training & Development Working Group.

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Liam Morgan

Peer Review

Liam is a Research Development Officer at Cardiff University who has a special interest in supporting individuals make the transition to independence through fellowship funding. Prior to this he worked in researcher development, where he supported the University’s work to improve research culture and environment in line with the principles of the Concordat. He also led, as Programme Manager, on the award-winning Welsh Crucible leadership development programme for three years.

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Udeni Salmon

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Udeni is an academic whose research focuses on applying race and gender theory to issues of social justice, entrepreneurship and innovation. She holds research posts at the University of Bristol and the University of Keele.

Udeni was a member of the feminist anti-racist collective Building the Anti-Racist Classroom from 2017-2019, and she has contributed to justice initatives such as the Race Equality Charter, student-led decolonisation work and organising with minoritised staff and students.

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Kay Guccione

Specialist in Mentoring

Kay is Head of Researcher Development at the University of Glasgow and an experienced mentoring consultant. She specialises in mentoring for academic leadership and research career development and is a Masters qualified accredited coach and mentor, and a National Teaching Fellow. Kay edits the Supervising PhDs blog.

As Mentoring Specialist, Kay has drawn on her experience and research in this area to design the Future Leaders Fellows Network’s suite of mentoring programmes. She leads on evaluation design for mentoring and, through this insight, contributes to the Network’s strategic decision making.

Kay is a member of our Cohort Experience Working Group.

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Charlotte Bonner-Evans

Mentoring Manager

Charlotte is an experienced and qualified people and project manager (PRINCE2 practitioner and MInstLM), having worked in the private sector, Further and Higher Education. She has managed a number of multi-million-pound research projects, developing a passion for supporting great research and great researchers. Having completed PGCerts in Counselling and in Higher Education Leadership and Management, Charlotte combines knowledge and practice (as an ILM practicing coach and mentor) with her desire to support others to develop and grow through mentoring, leadership, and training.

As the Partnership Manager for the Network’s multi-faceted mentoring scheme, Charlotte works with mentees and mentors daily. She is responsible for recruitment of the mentors and delivering the operational activity of the mentoring scheme.

Charlotte is a member of our Cohort Experience Working Group.

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Cheryl Thomas

Project Manager

Cheryl is an experienced project manager with a background in economic development. She is well-versed in managing projects of all shapes and sizes, and having recently worked in research support, has had the opportunity to work with researchers at all career stages to secure funding for research projects.

As Project Manager for the Future Leaders Fellows Development Network, she is excited to combine her experience in project management with her knowledge of the research funding landscape to help maximise the opportunities for Fellows in the network.

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Lisa Guenther

Events Officer

Lisa is the Events Officer at the Future Leaders Fellows Development Network where she supports the effective organisation and delivery of Network events and training activities. Previously, Lisa contributed to a range of postgraduate programmes at Edinburgh and Lancaster University.

As Events Officer, Lisa works closely with Cheryl, Bridget and Charlotte to coordinate a number of programmes and community initiatives.

Lisa is a member of our Training & Development Working Group.

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Contact us

Our Community Manager, Bridget, will get back to you.

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