December 18, 2008

As part of plans to expand its international activities, the University of Edinburgh has appointed Stephen Hillier to the post of vice-principal, international. The current director of postgraduate studies and international relations at the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, Professor Hillier will be joined in his new role by three new international deans who will assist him in developing teaching and research links in different parts of the world. The three new deans will be Abhay Abhyankar, who will oversee the university's activities in India; Natascha Gentz, who will be in charge of activities in China; and Andrew Scott, who will oversee the university's European strategy.

The first female to head a pre-1992 university in Scotland has announced her intention to retire in 2010. Christine Hallett, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Stirling, originally joined the university in 1989 as a reader in social policy. Professor Hallett took over as vice-chancellor from Colin Bell in 2004 and prior to that she also served as acting principal. "It has been a pleasure and privilege to lead the university, but I have long planned to retire at this stage in order to have time to pursue other interests," she said.

Fiona McLeod, former director of development with the famous Halle Orchestra, has taken up the same post at the UHI Millennium Institute, the prospective University of the Highlands and Islands. Ms McLeod will be responsible for fundraising from the private sector to boost the development of UHI's partner colleges and research centres, including the UHI Centre for History.

Two University of Bristol academics have been recognised with Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Awards. Nigel Smart and Peter Cullen were two of the 25 winners to be presented with the award by the Royal Society, the UK's national academy of science, which rewards individuals who undertake independent and original research. Professor Smart, who moved to Bristol's department of computer science after a spell working for Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, has made major contributions to the area of elliptic-curve cryptography, a technology used in BlackBerry mobile devices and Windows-based computers. Professor Cullen, who is also director of the Wellcome Trust PhD programme in dynamic cell biology, is internationally known for his work on the cell biology of phosphoinositides - the family of membrane lipids that play a role in controlling the events that allow cells to respond to the extracellular signals, such as hormones, that circulate in the blood. His research has allowed others to gain a greater understanding of how cells take on diseased states that can lead to illness.

The Guildhall School of Music and Drama has announced that Ronan O'Hora has been appointed head of advanced performance studies. He will be involved in co-ordinating the mentoring of students in the postgraduate Guildhall Artist Programme and will collaborate with artist management agencies to help develop the students' careers. Head of keyboard studies since 1999, Professor O'Hora has performed throughout the world, playing concertos with orchestras such as the London Philharmonic, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields. He has also recorded more than 30 CDs.

Gavin Smith has been appointed to lead Europe's first MA in surveillance studies at the School of Social Sciences at City University, London. Previously based at the University of Aberdeen, he achieved an MA in sociology and a master of research degree in social research methods. During his PhD, Dr Smith researched the dynamics and operation of differing CCTV control rooms in the UK, and his work contributed to greater scholarly understanding in the field.

Jean-Marc Rapp, the former rector of the University of Lausanne and president of the Rectors' Conference of Swiss Universities, has been elected the new president of the European University Association (EUA). Professor Rapp, who is currently the vice-president of the EUA, will take up his new post in spring 2009 and will serve as president for three years. He replaces Georg Winckler, rector of the University of Vienna.

Anton Muscatelli, principal of Heriot-Watt University, will succeed Sir Muir Russell as principal of the University of Glasgow next October. Professor Muscatelli was vice-principal of Glasgow before he moved to Heriot-Watt in 2007. He succeeded Sir Muir as convener of Universities Scotland in May this year. Joy Travers, the chair of Glasgow's selection committee, which unanimously backed the appointment, said: "In addition to being a distinguished economist, Anton brings exceptional strategic leadership and understanding of the issues facing universities at this time. I feel confident that, with Anton at its head, this world-class university will continue to grow from strength to strength."

Environmental scientist Richard Owen has joined the University of Westminster to take on the role of professor of environmental risk assessment. "I'm trying to define what responsible innovation should look like by considering what I call 'risk futures'," he said. "Innovation is the lifeblood of our economy, but issues such as climate change have taught us the need to innovate responsibly." Professor Owen joins from the UK Environment Agency, where he was head of the environment and human health programme. His previous roles have seen him consider a number of emerging technologies, including nanotechnologies.

Brunel University has announced the appointment of David Gilbert as head of the School of Information Systems, Computing and Mathematics. Professor Gilbert joins from the University of Glasgow, where he was professor of bioinformatics and director of the Bioinformatics Research Centre. Lorraine de Souza, head of Brunel's School of Health Sciences and Social Care, said: "His interest in systems biology should help to bring formalism to some of our biochemistry efforts, for example in pathway modelling, which should lead to predictive models and eventually feed into predictive, personalised, participatory and preventive (P4) medicine."


In our issue of 20 November, we said that Hilary Tompsett is chair of the joint university council and social work education group for Surrey and Sussex. She is, in fact, chair of the joint university council social work education learning and teaching sub-committee, and chair of the Surrey and Sussex social work education group.

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