April 24, 2008

The University of Portsmouth has appointed the veteran higher education communications expert Peter Reader as its new director of marketing and communications. He is former president of the European Universities Public Relations and Information Officers, the current chair of the steering committee of the Association of Commonwealth Universities PR and Marketing Network and a member of the Communications and Information Committee of the UK's Economic and Social Research Council.

Susan Pyner, of Durham University's School of Biological and Biomedical Science, has won a £143,068 grant from the British Heart Foundation. She will use it to support her research into the brain and its role in ensuring that the heart and circulatory systems function effectively. Dr Pyner will study the networks of nerve cells in the brain that communicate with the body's heart and circulatory system. Her findings will give insight into abnormal nerve activity during heart failure and may lead to new treatments to prevent it.

Bestselling authors Robert Harris and Tom Holland have launched a programme at the University of Liverpool to introduce more young people to ancient history and languages. Mr Harris is best known for his historical novel, Enigma. He launched the university's Classics 08 programme with Mr Holland, who is known for his popular histories such as Rubicon and Persian Fire. Classics lecturer Eugenie Fernandes said: "The study of classics and in particular classical languages has attracted renewed interest in recent years. Blockbuster films such as Gladiator and Alexander the Great have led to a revival of Latin and Greek, as well as classical history. Both languages have been shown to help improve reading, comprehension, vocabulary and grammar." Schoolchildren over the age of 14 can attend a Classics Club at the university on Saturdays.

Northumbria University's vice-chancellor Kel Fidler has been reappointed chairman of Engineering Council UK, the country's regulatory authority for engineers. Professor Fidler has already served as chairman for the past three years and will now serve a further three-year term. He said: "Over the next few years one of the major projects we will be working on is marketing the benefits of the registration process to try to reach more engineers who would benefit from professional recognition."

Sir Stephen Wall is the new chair of University College London's governing council. Sir Stephen will succeed Lord Woolf this month. He has been a lay member of the UCL council since 2005, having spent 35 years in the diplomatic service, including postings as private secretary to the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister, and as Britain's permanent representative to the European Union.

Anna Saxton is the new business development manager of Bucks New University's Missenden Abbey conference centre. She joins the university from the hotel industry. Ms Saxton said: "From the moment I walked through the doors of Missenden Abbey, I was instantly won over by its beauty, drama and history."

A team of scientists, led by David Leigh of the University of Edinburgh, has been awarded a share of the biggest research prize in Europe. Professor Leigh of Edinburgh's School of Chemistry is one of three winners of the £1.1 million Descartes Prize, which is awarded annually to outstanding international scientific research teams. The team, involving academics in Italy, France and the Netherlands, has been recognised for its work on nanomachines - tiny molecular motors. Professor Leigh plans to use part of the prize to set up a company, Synthetic Nanomachines, in Edinburgh, which will commercialise some aspects of his group's research. He said: "It is great for Scotland to be seen as being at the forefront of Europe's nanotechnology research."

Richard Lambert, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, has been appointed chancellor of the University of Warwick. A former journalist, Mr Lambert joined the Financial Times after graduating from the University of Oxford in 1966, rising through the ranks to become the paper's editor. He is well known in higher education circles for the Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration, published in 2003. The report's recommendations urged universities to identify distinctive strengths in research, while encouraging business to give a greater priority to innovation and creativity through links with universities. Mr Lambert will succeed Warwick's current chancellor Sir Nicholas Scheele in August.

Malcolm Higgs, a specialist in change management and leadership, has joined the University of Southampton's School of Management where he will lead a group working in human resources management and organisation behaviour. He was previously director of the School of Leadership, Change and HR and research director at Henley Management College. Professor Higgs said: "Achieving successful change is a major challenge for companies and organisations. My research with dozens of enterprises shows that the actions of individual leaders are major factors in the success or failure of any restructuring operation."

Adam Blake has joined Bournemouth University's International Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Research (in the School of Services Management) as professor of economics. Professor Blake was previously at University of Nottingham's Business School, where he held the position of associate professor of tourism and acting director of the Christel DeHaan Tourism and Travel Research Institute.

A Welsh academic is to head a professional body for librarians and information staff. Judith Broady-Preston, a lecturer in Aberystwyth University's department of information studies, has been elected leader of the Chartered Institute of Library Information Professionals. Dr Broady-Preston, one of 12 trustees elected to the organisation's council, will lead the institute's strategy for the review and development of the profession.

The University of Gloucestershire has made newspaper editor Simon Kelner a visiting fellow in journalism. The editor-in-chief of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday and former sports editor of The Observer takes the position in the faculty of media, art and communications. Rachel Matthews, senior lecturer in journalism, said: "This is an honour for us and great endorsement for our course." Mr Kelner, who started out as a trainee at the Neath Guardian in 1979, oversaw the recent relaunch of The Independent in compact format.

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