May 8, 2008

The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, has appointed Nirmala Rao its vice-principal (learning and teaching). She will join SOAS in August from Goldsmiths, University of London, where she has spent the past 14 years and has been pro-warden (academic) since 2005. Professor Rao took her first degree in economics (hons) from Delhi University in 1979, and subsequently received her MA and MPhil from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. SOAS is also celebrating the fact that John Anthony Allan has been named the 2008 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate. The award recognises Professor Allan's "unique, pioneering and long-lasting work in education and raising the awareness internationally of interdisciplinary relationships between agricultural production, water use, economies and political processes". In 1993 he introduced the concept of "virtual water" to account for the water that is embedded in the production of foods and industrial products. He will receive $150,000 (£75,000) in a ceremony in August.

Anna Sfard, chair of mathematics education at the Institute of Education, has been awarded the Hans Freudenthal Medal for 2007. The medal, awarded by the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction, is in recognition of outstanding achievement in mathematics education research. Professor Sfard, who also has a post at the University of Haifa, Israel, was recognised for her work focusing on "objectification and discourse in mathematics education".

The world's first reader in green economics has been appointed at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff. The job has gone to Molly Scott Cato, a senior lecturer in social economy from the institute's School of Management and director of the Wales Institute for Research into Co-operatives. She is also economics speaker for the Green Party and active in environmental issues in her home town of Stroud. Green economics looks at the interaction between the economy, the environment and social justice. "Green economics would argue that almost everything that conventional economics says is wrong," she said. "It is a very efficient system for generating profit but not good at protecting the interests of the planet or the most vulnerable people within the economy."

David Payne, director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton, has been selected as a finalist for the 2008 Millennium Technology Prize, the world's largest award for technology innovation. Professor Payne is being recognised for his services to telecommunications, based on his contribution to the development of the world's first practical "optical amplifier" - the erbium-doped fibre amplifier - which is used in fibre-optic transmission systems and has enabled massive growth in the world wide web by allowing the transmission of large amounts of data. The EUR800,000 (£628,000) winner will be announced at an award ceremony in Helsinki, Finland, on 11 June.

The Guildhall School of Music and Drama has appointed Helena Gaunt, currently deputy head of wind, brass and percussion at the school, to the new post of assistant principal (research and academic development). Dr Gaunt, who retains her academic base in the music department, gained her PhD at the Institute of Education. She has performed in the Haffner Wind Ensemble and Britten Sinfonia, and has worked with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, the Composers' Ensemble and the City of London Sinfonia.

Martin Snowden has been appointed head of the School of Science at the University of Greenwich. Currently director of research and enterprise in the school, Professor Snowden is a physical chemist who uses nanoparticles and nanotechnology to find new ways of formulating medicines and delivering drugs. He will take up his post in September.

Steve Dinning has been appointed head of the Bristol Institute of Legal Practice, in the Bristol Law School at the University of the West of England. The appointment follows the move of Paul Rylance, the previous post-holder, to become head of knowledge exchange in the faculty of social sciences and humanities at the university.

Nigel Babb is to take up the new post of director of strategic developments at the University of Wolverhampton. Mr Babb has spent the past five years as a business development manager at the university.

Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln has installed its new provost, Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas. Dame Judith, DBE, a lawyer and one-time leader of the Corporation of London, is currently chair of the Royal Opera House. She will be the first to take up the honorary, largely ceremonial role in the 146-year history of Bishop Grosseteste, as the post became open only after the institution gained formal university college status in 2006.

The Duke of Gloucester, the Queen's cousin, has been installed as the University of Worcester's founding chancellor in a ceremony at Worcester Cathedral.

The Economic and Social Research Council has two new council members. Malcolm Grant, president and provost of University College London, chairman of the Russell Group of 20 research-led universities, and a member of Times Higher Education's editorial board, has been appointed for three years until July 2011. Dave Ramsden, the Treasury's chief macroeconomist, will sit on the council for four years until January 2012.

Liverpool John Moores University has appointed Graham Roberts as the first director of the Liverpool Screen School and as its professor of screen industries. Professor Roberts is currently director of the Institute of Communication Studies at the University of Leeds. Professor Roberts said: "Having the opportunity to shape the facilities of this new building was too good an opportunity not to seize. I've seen the basic blueprint, and I've already started to formulate ideas." He will take up the post in July.

Hideko Nomura, a research fellow at the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen's University Belfast, has won the Young Astronomer Award 2008 from the Astronomical Society of Japan. Dr Nomura won the prize for her part in an $800 million (£400m) telescopic project in Chile. She has worked closely with Tom Millar, Queen's dean of engineering and physical sciences, who said: "Hideko's work over the past five years has been aimed at solving some of the most fundamental problems in astronomy today and has resulted in a number of seminal publications. Her work in Queen's has done much to establish the molecular astrophysics group here."

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