March 18, 2010

University of Dundee

Tony Martin

Most academics would baulk at an 8,000-mile commute to work, but Tony Martin, professor of animal conservation at the University of Dundee, could not be more excited by the prospect. Professor Martin has been seconded to the South Georgia Heritage Trust and will spend four months a year working on a multimillion-pound conservation project to reintroduce birds to the area. He said his enthusiasm for the natural world was sparked by his father, who took him birdwatching and hunting for beetles. At an early age, he "decided that if I could make a career out of being wide-eyed and interested in nature, then I would do". Professor Martin added that he was fully aware of how lucky he was. "To do what you love doing and get paid for it is just beyond belief," he said. Most of his time in the southern Atlantic will be spent living and working in tents and boats, and Professor Martin said he was looking forward to the change of lifestyle. "You're much more aware of your surroundings when there's just a layer between you and the outside world, or you're on the water," he said. "I much prefer living in little huts - it's just the way I am, I enjoy getting close to nature. I can't stand towns, I can't abide them, so being out in the wild will be great." The main aim of the project will be ridding South Georgia of brown rats, introduced to the island by sailors and responsible for the deaths of millions of bird chicks every year. Professor Martin said that he would show the rodents no mercy. "On the basis that they shouldn't be there in the first place and are harming the native wildlife, there seems every justification for us to put right what our ancestors unwittingly put wrong." He said that the glaciers currently preventing rats moving to other islands in the region are receding, which meant that his work was a "race against time".

UHI Millennium Institute

Lois Calder

Lois Calder has been appointed head of the new graduate school at UHI Millennium Institute, the prospective University of the Highlands and Islands. Dr Calder is a marine scientist and has a joint appointment with UHI and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (Sams). She explained that her choice of career can be traced back to her childhood days playing on the shore: "I've always had an association with the sea; it's been a longstanding feature of my life. It is what I gravitated towards." She said her main aim for the graduate school was to "enhance a culture of excellence" and pass on her deep commitment to teaching. She added: "I don't feel like I've been doing the same job for the past 18 years, as it's so dynamic." A Sams staff member since 1992, Dr Calder joked: "I'm thoroughly institutionalised. I'll never escape."

Anglia Ruskin University

Paul McDermott

Anglia Ruskin University and Peterborough Regional College have unveiled a £10 million facility for the jointly run University Centre Peterborough. Paul McDermott, the centre's academic director, said the facility had been built with the academics who will occupy it in mind. "Rather than them having to adapt to the space they've been given, we've adapted the space to them as we've built," he said. Mr McDermott started his career as a geographer at the University of Leicester, where he was in turn a demonstrator, a PhD student, a research assistant and a lecturer. He then moved to the University of Northampton, where he worked his way up to the directorship of its postgraduate modular scheme. He said that supporting classes by "inspirational" lecturers at Leicester had taught him valuable lessons: "For the first time, I could see the value of how teaching and research play together to promote quality and standards." Having been a tutor at The Open University in the early 1990s, he said he was aware of the difference that higher education can make to non-traditional students. "I personally believe in making sure that students have access to the inclusive nature of higher education, and the new university sector does a tremendous job of providing that access and giving people the chance to develop skills to benefit themselves, their region and society," Mr McDermott said.

University of Brighton

Abigail Dombey

A university has appointed an "energy tsar" to cut its carbon emissions. Abigail Dombey has been charged with drastically reducing the University of Brighton's £2.4 million annual energy bill and the 11,000 tonnes of carbon it emits into the atmosphere every year. She will be asking the university's 22,000 students and 2,400 members of staff to help by switching off lights, computers, monitors and printers when they are not in use and eschewing portable electric heaters, which can disrupt temperature control in office spaces. She said: "That means Mr Hot and Ms Cold helping themselves and avoiding thermostat wars - perhaps Mr Hot could take off his jacket and tie and Ms Cold could put on something warm like a jumper." She added: "We want all our buildings to be comfortable, but we must look to ourselves to resolve some issues, especially when it is down to individual preferences."

Other changes ...

Baroness Shephard of Northwold has joined the Institute of Education as chair of its council.

Ben Thomas has been appointed lecturer in sustainable product design at Bournemouth University's School of Design, Engineering and Computing.

The Arts University College at Bournemouth has appointed Jeffrey Baggott dean of the faculty of media and performance.

Peter Buckley, professor of international business at the University of Leeds, has been made chairman of the European International Business Academy.

Ken Mackinnon has joined Robert Gordon University's Aberdeen Business School as head of law. He was previously based at the University of Waikato, New Zealand.

De Montfort University has appointed Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford to support the construction of strategic alliances between the university and external organisations.

Keith Ball, Astor professor of mathematics at University College London, has been appointed scientific director of the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences.

Vladimir Mirodan, principal of Drama Centre London, part of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, has been seconded to the college's development project.

Bob Palmer, honorary professor of psychiatry in the University of Leicester's department of health sciences, is to be recognised by a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy for Eating Disorders.

Transport writer and broadcaster Christian Wolmar has joined the University of Aberdeen's Centre for Transport Research as honorary research fellow.

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