Meet the team

Our team has a broad range of experience and can support you to build new relationships and networks.

View the following information about each team member’s role, to find the right person to contact. To get in touch, email the Horizons Institute team at 

In addition to our team, we also have a group of interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral experts that help to inform our policies and direction, and who sit on two distinct boards: our International Advisory Board, with a cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary membership of colleagues external to the University of Leeds, and our Internal Oversight Board of academic and professional services colleagues at the University of Leeds. 

You can find information about these boards, including membership, on the Horizons Institute International Advisory Board page and Horizons Institute Internal Oversite Board page

Samantha Aspinall, Head of Interdisciplinary Research Development

Samantha is Head of Interdisciplinary Research Development at the University of Leeds. In the Horizons Institute, she leads on the Global Academy, an opportunity for University of Leeds and international colleagues to develop their interdisciplinary skills and ideas together.   

Samantha is part of the leadership team of the Future Leader Fellows Development Network. She also sits on various UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) panels and is a panel member for the UKRI Future Leader Fellows (FLFs). Samantha previously sat on the Bioscience Skills and Careers Strategy Panel, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Doctoral Training Panels and most recently, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) PhD review Group.  

Kuldip Banger, Business/Project Support Officer 

As Business/Project Support Officer at the Horizons Institute, Kuldip provides administrative support to the Horizons team, and manages the Crucible programme.  

Kuldip previously worked with the University of Leeds’ Central Human Resources team and Organisational Development & Professional Learning (OD&PL) team, has been a University mentor for more than five years, and is a member of the Sustainability team.  

Helen Freeman, Policy Engagement Manager, Future Leaders Fellows Development Network 

Helen is the Policy Engagement Manager for the Future Leaders Fellows Development Network. Helen’s role supports Future Leaders Fellows and UKRI-nominated Early Career Researchers through the delivery of policy-related training, community networking and expanding their understanding of the policy landscape. 

Alongside this role, Helen is the Network Manager for the Future Urban Ventilation Network (Breathing City) and the Institute Manager for Leeds Institute for Fluid Dynamics. Between 2011 and 2018, Helen completed a PhD and four years of Post-Doctoral work in materials engineering. In 2021, she held a Parliamentary Academic Fellowship working with the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology.

Read more about Helen Freeman on her staff page.

Juliet Jopson, Policy Officer, Policy Leeds 

As part of her work as Policy Officer at Policy Leeds, Juliet supports researchers working with the Horizons Institute to develop their policy engagement activities and capacity, building in policy engagement from the start. 

Prior to joining Policy Leeds, Juliet worked as a research project manager on large interdisciplinary and multi sector projects. Her background is in science communication, working in science television and multimedia prior to joining the University of Leeds in 2006. 

Kate Kellett, Research Manager: Creativity, Partnership and Impact

Kate works with academics in the development and support of interdisciplinary networks, working to address key research challenges, and to facilitate links with external partners to foster collaborative working.

Kate has a background in academic research, most recently as a Research Fellow at Manchester University, where she worked and published on research projects linked to Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular Dementia and Cardiovascular disease. She enjoys science communication and has delivered a number of public lectures including at the Leeds Pint of Science Festival 2022 and for the Alzheimer’s Research UK Lab Notes series.

Poppy Leeder, Research Manager: Creativity, Partnership and Impact

Poppy works with academics to support them to engage with each other, and external partners, to tackle research challenges.

She has a background in Research Support and for the Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP). Before joining the University she worked for two of the UK’s Research Councils and was also a Regional Liaison Officer for a Member of the European Parliament. 

Abi Rowson, Joint Acting Head of Interdisciplinary Research

Currently acting co-Head of Interdisciplinary Research, alongside Inés Soria-Donlan, Abi is also one of four research managers for creativity, partnership and impact. In these roles, Abi supports new interdisciplinary networks across the University, facilitating programmes and events with internal and external partners and helping academic colleagues come together and respond to global research challenges. 
Abi has held several successful roles in research management and development. As manager of the Wellcome-funded Centre for the Humanities and Health at King’s College London, she helped bring academics, medics, and artists together in an interdisciplinary research programme The Boundaries of Illness. From September 2023 Abi will be on secondment for one day a week to the Policy and Intelligence Team at Leeds City Council where she will be building on the collaborative research partnership between the two institutions.
Find Abi Rowson's profile on LinkedIn.

Rosemary Sannaee, Challenge Network Coordinator

Rosemary supports the implementation and development of the interdisciplinary Challenge Theme Networks, which aim to address specific societal, scientific or technological challenges of global significance.

Prior to joining the Horizons Institute, Rosemary worked in Research Support within the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures, having previously held roles in project support, HR and business support across the University.

Inés Soria-Donlan, Joint Acting Head of Interdisciplinary Research

Currently acting co-Head of Interdisciplinary Research, alongside Abi Rowson, Inés is also one of four research managers for creativity, partnership and impact. In these roles, Inés supports academics to engage with each other and external partners in meaningful and inclusive ways, to spark groundbreaking ideas for tackling global challenges. 

With a background in supporting creative education and grassroots communities to lead transformative social change, Inés has worked nationally and internationally across the academic, cultural and development sectors. She was most recently Project Manager of Changing the Story, a four-year international, multi-disciplinary action research project that explored the role of creativity and civil society organisations on youth leadership. She is Chair of South Asian Arts UK.

View Inés Soria-Donlan's profile on LinkedIn

Stuart Taberner, Director

Stuart has held different teaching, research, and managerial roles in the School of Modern Languages, the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures, and across the University. Most recently, he was Dean for Interdisciplinary Research, helping to stimulate new research collaborations involving colleagues from across the campus and beyond. 

Previously a Director of Interdisciplinary and International Research at UKRI, Stuart is a researcher specialising in German literature and Jewish studies, and directs Praxis

Read Stuart Taberner’s academic profile.

Karis Welch, Policy Engagement and Communications Officer

Karis oversees the strategic communications of Horizons Institute and Policy Leeds, managing multi-platform engagement, developing content, and supporting the development of communications from affiliated bodies across the University of Leeds.  

With a background in higher education and third sector communications, Karis is also a former print journalist and sub-editor.  

View Karis Welch's profile on LinkedIn.

Lauren Wray, Manager

Lauren manages the day-to-day operations of the Institute including coordinating budgets, overseeing governance structures, implementing appropriate systems and processes, developing partnerships across and beyond the University, and managing reporting.  

Previously Project Officer at Changing the Story (CTS), she also led on the recruitment, co-design, and coordination of the CTS Youth Research Board, a group of 11 young international researchers and leaders. Lauren has also worked on Praxis, working with partners including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).