A SOUTHAMPTON academic has been awarded £1.45m in European funding for research that could transform the study of migration.

The study, which will exploring various methods to enhance knowledge and understanding of migration processes, will be led by Dr Jakub Bijak, an Associate Professor in Demography at the University.

Dr Bijak was awarded the £1.45m for the four-year project titled ‘Bayesian Agent-based Population Studies (BAPS): Transforming Simulation Models of Human Migration’.

Dr Bijak said: "I am absolutely thrilled to receive the ERC grant for this project.

"Migration is a top priority EU policy area and one of the key social challenges in contemporary Europe.

"We need to better understand the processes and decisions that underpin it, so this project will look at developing and testing innovative methods for modelling migration which we hope will offer a step change in the how migration is understood, predicted and managed."

The project will build on Jakub’s previous research into migration modelling and forecasting and aims to utilise the concepts of intelligent agents as well as social networks to develop a ground-breaking simulation model of international migration.

The simulations will see the agents (migrants, states and institutions) interact in a way that will mimic the trends observed in the real world.

The Southampton academic was one of 314 top researchers in Europe selected by the European Research Council (ERC) to share in a total of €605m funding.

Led by Dr Bijak and colleagues Professor Peter Smith, Professor Jonathan Forster and Dr Philip Higham, the team will also develop a bespoke, intuitive programming language to help deal with the project’s computational challenges.

The project is due to start of summer of this year.