May 1, 2008

Mark Lansdale this week took over as head of the School of Psychology at the University of Leicester, joining from Nottingham Trent University. He is perhaps best known for research on how office workers use their messy desks as a memory aid, and its implications for design. Professor Lansdale is involved in a multidisciplinary project on the design of research buildings for 21st-century universities, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Andrew Massey, professor of politics at the University of Exeter, has been elected on to the Academy of Social Sciences. Also at Exeter, Jeremy Black, professor of history, has been awarded the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize for 2008 from the Society for Military History for his "outstanding scholarly activity" in the field of military history. Chris Fogwill has joined Exeter's School of Geography, Archaeology and Earth Resources as lecturer in environmental change from the University of Edinburgh.

John Beath has been confirmed as the Royal Economic Society's new secretary-general. He becomes the ninth person to take the role in the society's 118-year history. Professor Beath, from the University of St Andrews School of Economics and Finance, takes over in June. He will be responsible not only for authorising all the society's grants and fellowships, but also for the publication of The Economic Journal and The Econometrics Journal. He said: "I am greatly honoured ... especially when I reflect on the names of those who have previously held the post, such as Lord Keynes. Equally important, I feel, is the heightened international profile this will give to economics in Scotland." It is the first time since the society's founding that its office will be outside London. Professor Beath said: "This is a further step to help move the centre of gravity in the discipline back towards Scotland and to Fife, the country and the county that through Adam Smith have had such a profound effect on the development of economic thought."

Sinéad Morrissey, lecturer in creative writing in the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen's University Belfast, has won top prize in the UK's biggest poetry competition for a poem reflecting a major change in her life, the birth of her son in 2006. Through the Square Window was unanimously chosen as the winner in the Poetry Society's National Poetry Competition by judges E.A. Markham, Michael Schmidt and Penelope Shuttle. The competition attracted 8,000 entries.

Alexander Leemans of Cardiff University's Brain Research Imaging Centre has been awarded first prize in the General Electric Brain Expert competition for research into improving the reliability of the information extracted from brain scans. He uses diffusion tensor imaging, a recently developed magnetic resonance imaging technique that allows scientists to investigate the organisation of the brain's white matter in greater detail than before.

The University of Wolverhampton's School of Education has appointed three visiting professors. Christine Pascal, a specialist adviser for early years to the House of Commons Select Committee on Education, and Tony Bertram, a specialist adviser to the Minister for Children and Young People, have been appointed as visiting professors of early-years education and care. Both are founding members of the European Early Childhood Education Research Association and co-directors of the Centre for Research in Early Childhood in Birmingham. Sally Tomlinson, emeritus professor at Goldsmiths, University of London, has been appointed visiting professor of education for social inclusion and social justice.

The University of Chichester has confirmed two new appointments to its senior management team. Sandra Jowett, currently a pro vice-chancellor at Thames Valley University, becomes pro vice-chancellor (external relations, research and employer engagement). Roni Brown becomes dean of business, arts and humanities, joining Chichester from the University College for the Creative Arts at Farnham, where she was its deputy head.

Helena Blakemore, programme leader for creative writing at the University of East London, has been elected to the committee of the Higher Education Network for the National Association of Writers in Education. The network was set up to "consolidate the standing and reputation of creative writing in higher education at both undergraduate and postgraduate level".

Nicholas Canny has been elected the 53rd president of the Royal Irish Academy, Ireland's academy for the sciences, humanities and social sciences. The professor of history at the National University of Ireland, Galway, will be the first president of the academy to be based outside London since the role was held in the 1890s by the Earl of Rosse.

Susan Hart has taken up her new position as dean of the University of Strathclyde's Business School, where she has been head of marketing and vice-dean of research. She was previously professor of marketing at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, and head of the marketing department at the University of Stirling. She has held visiting academic roles at a number of institutions, including Griffith University, Queensland, and Pennsylvania State University, and has worked in the private sector, notably at RBS and McDonald's. She is also a director of the Scottish Royal National Orchestra. She said: "It is a very exciting time to be at Strathclyde Business School as we further internationalise our research, industry collaboration and educational activities."

Paul Ekins has joined King's College London as professor of energy and environment policy. Professor Ekins, who won a United Nations Award for "outstanding environmental achievement" in 1994, was previously head of the environment group at the Policy Studies Institute and professor of sustainable development at the University of Westminster. He is also a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. He said he was "looking forward to developing and contributing to cross-departmental and interdisciplinary research projects".

A new leader for Durham University's Business School has taken charge following the sacking of former dean Tony Antoniou for plagiarism. Rob Dixon, 53, was the school's deputy dean, but the university said he had been appointed only after an international search for candidates by recruitment consultants. "We interviewed senior figures from some of the world's major business schools for the role of dean," said Chris Higgins, the vice-chancellor. Durham Business School is ranked ninth in the UK and 23rd in Europe in the influential Financial Times European Business Schools Rankings.

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