Organisation profile

The Earth and Life Systems Alliance (ELSA) is a strategic cornerstone of the Norwich Research Park (NRP). With its interdisciplinary approach to addressing the challenges of a changing climate, the Alliance not only carries out fundamental research but also applies the findings to real world scenarios.


ELSA is built on the unique and world-class concentration of Earth and Life Scientists on the Norwich Research Park (NRP) which includes the University of East Anglia (UEA), John Innes Centre (JIC), The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) and The Earlham Institute (EI). Together, they have internationally renowned expertise in

  • Genetics and molecular biology of plants, animals and microbes
  • Biogeochemical cycles
  • Marine and atmospheric sciences
  • Population dynamics
  • Genomics and evolutionary genetics
  • Ecosystem services
  • Computer modelling


The aim of ELSA is to integrate and enhance internationally-excellent research in the Earth and Life Sciences across the NRP and to provide opportunities for ELSA researchers to exchange knowledge and develop new ideas for integrative, multidisciplinary research through scientific meetings, workshops, pump-priming projects and cross-NRP studentships. We also seek to attract world class researchers and fellows to the NRP, engage with funding agencies and stakeholders in promoting ELSA science and identify new funding opportunities to ensure development and sustainability of multidisciplinary research across the NRP.


Some of ELSA’s scientists are studying fundamental processes at the level of individual genes and molecules in animals, plants and microbes. Together with other ELSA colleagues who are investigating species adaptation and evolution, the aim is understand how changes in biological processes can have larger scale impacts; for example, how single genetic mutations can trigger shifts in population numbers, species biodiversity and disrupt the balance of carbon and nitrogen in the oceans and atmosphere. Decisions around how land is used on the planet can alter entire landscapes and ecosystems, as well as affect societies and economies. These research outcomes are expected to directly inform policies around the use of resources and the environmental impact of various human activities.  ELSA microbiologists are brought together with other microbiologists on the Park through Microbes in Norwich.


The research agenda of the Alliance is focussed around three themes:


ELSA Research Fellowships

ELSA is seeking to attract the next generation of scientists to contribute to our world-class research.  ELSA supports outstanding individuals in their applications for Independent Research Fellowships (e.g. BBSRCNERCMarie Sklodowska-CurieERCLeverhulme Trust) with the backing of our globally-renowned research institutions. Candidates who have research interests that fall broadly into the three key research themes of ELSA: Biodiversity and Adaptation, Elemental Cycles, and Food Security are invited to apply for our support. Key senior scientists at the NRP can help develop and enhance your Fellowship proposal, discuss your future research plans and provide expert advice on writing your Fellowship application whilst facilitating the potential to forge new collaborations.


If you are considering applying for a Fellowship in one of the ELSA themes then please contact us: 

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or