Appointments - 31 January 2013

January 31, 2013

Cape Breton University
David Wheeler

The new president of Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia has expressed his “gratitude” to the university for giving him the role, adding that he was also looking forward to the “giant scallops and inexpensive lobster” available to him in the region. It will be the second stint in the Canadian province for David Wheeler, who is currently pro vice-chancellor for sustainability at Plymouth University: he was dean of management at Dalhousie University between 2006 and 2009. At Dalhousie, he established multi-stakeholder consensus on energy efficiency and renewable electricity policy reform for Nova Scotia. Dr Wheeler studied for his undergraduate and doctoral degrees at the University of Surrey and is a former international business executive with experience in public health science, international development, corporate social responsibility, entrepreneurship and sustainable energy policy. He has also held positions at Surrey and Kingston universities, and York University in Ontario. He said he was looking forward to ensuring that Cape Breton expands its regional economic and global research impact. However, the football fan did admit that he would miss the “fighting spirit of Plymouth Argyle’s players and supporters”.

University of Southampton
Nuria García-Aráez

A new lecturer in electrochemistry at the University of Southampton said the transition from her native Spain to the UK had been made easier by the people, who she said had shown “typical English manners”. “I love the UK. This is my first time in the country and it’s really good, people are really nice and extremely polite,” Nuria García-Aráez said. She added that, in her opinion, Southampton had “the best electrochemistry group in the world”. “They have a lot of strong fundamental knowledge combined with big expertise in techniques,” she said. Dr García-Aráez joined from the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland and will continue her work on lithium-air batteries, which she hopes will lead to their use commercially. “They [have an] energy density similar to gasoline, so in theory they’re extremely good,” she said. “There are several fundamental challenges…[but] if we succeed, it’s going to make a huge difference.” After obtaining her first-class degree in chemistry from the University of Alicante, Dr García-Aráez remained at the institution to complete her PhD. She worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the FOM Institute AMOLF in Amsterdam and at Leiden University before moving to Switzerland.

University of Westminster
Martin Willis

An academic whose prime research interest is the link between Victorian literature and science said that moving to London was an ideal opportunity because of its rich history of connections between the disciplines. “I’ve never taken a [Jack the] Ripper tour, but I’ll certainly take advantage of it,” said Martin Willis, who has just joined the University of Westminster as professor of science, literature and communication. He said literature and science were two subject fields that were inextricably linked, but the connection had perhaps been forgotten. “I think we think of certain sciences such as forensics [as being contemporary] because of watching [programmes like] CSI. [But] forensic science is Victorian, and [BBC One’s] Ripper Street reminds us that there is this long history…that takes us back into the 19th century. That’s really useful for a general audience to remember - it’s not all about the now.” Among other projects he has planned, Professor Willis hopes to arrange a show of Charles Dickens’ The Haunted Man for Westminster’s 175th anniversary. Professor Willis studied for his undergraduate and doctoral degrees at the University of Edinburgh and has previously taught at the universities of Worcester and Glamorgan.

Goldsmiths, University of London
Mike Featherstone

An internationally renowned sociologist and editor of one of the field’s key journals has joined Goldsmiths, University of London as professor of sociology. Mike Featherstone, who was previously a research professor at Nottingham Trent University, is the editor of Theory, Culture & Society, the leading ranked journal in cultural studies. Given Goldsmiths’ liberal arts, humanities and social sciences tradition, it was a particularly “fertile” place to work for someone in his area, he said. “I haven’t had a chance to get into the arts side very much, and I’m looking forward to that because we’ve not had a lot of art in TCS and there’s an opportunity to widen that aspect.” Interdisciplinarity is high on his agenda for the consolidation and development of the journal, and Goldsmiths is the perfect place to achieve this, with its diverse student and academic body. “You see them [the students and staff] and the style is very interesting…bohemian,” he said. “In that mix, there is [a lot of] creativity, innovation and experimentation, and if you’re an artist that’s incredibly important.” Professor Featherstone graduated from Durham University with undergraduate and master’s degrees before undertaking his PhD at Utrecht University. His career has taken him all over the world, and he is a visiting professor in Barcelona, Geneva, Kyoto, Recife, São Paulo, Tokyo and Vancouver.

Other changes

Lord Noon, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, has been appointed chancellor of the University of East London. Lord Noon, who developed his business from a sweet shop in Mumbai to a multi-million-pound food empire, replaces Lord Rix. Lord Noon is credited with introducing the British palate to Indian food on a large scale through his business supplying supermarkets. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by UEL in 2009.

Aberystwyth University has created two positions to encourage public engagement with the institution, recognising the wider community’s role in university life. Nigel Scollan and Richard Marggraf Turley have joined as professors of public engagement with science, and engagement with the public imagination, respectively. They will lead the university’s drive to encourage greater public involvement in events at the institution and assist in developing an open day for local people. Professor Scollan currently holds the Waitrose chair of food and farming at the university’s Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences. Professor Marggraf Turley is co-director of the university’s Centre for Romantic Studies, and the winner of the 2007 Keats-Shelley Prize for poetry.

Ross Wilson has joined the University of Chichester as senior lecturer in the department of history. Dr Wilson, who joins from New York University, will contribute through his research and teaching on the First World War as well as his interests in modern British, European and US history. He holds a BA, an MA and a PhD from the University of York.

Michael Davies has begun work as the University of Sussex’s new pro vice- chancellor for research. Professor Davies has come from the University of Auckland, where he was dean of engineering and pro vice-chancellor of the institution’s innovation campus. He has also held numerous positions at the University of Dundee.

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