Meet the team

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

To get in touch, email the Horizons Institute team at horizons@leeds.ac.uk.

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) ( three days a week) and the Institute Manager for Leeds Institute for Fluid Dynamics (one day a week). 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 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. 

Abi Rowson, Research Manager: Creativity, Partnership and Impact

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. 
  
Find Abi 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, Research Manager: Creativity, Partnerships and Impact

Inés supports academics to engage with each other and external partners, 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 creative sectors and was most recently Project Manager of Changing the Story at University of Leeds.  

Find Inés 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-platforms 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.  

Find Karis 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).