Appointments

March 25, 2010

City University London

Paul Curran

Paul Curran, vice-chancellor of Bournemouth University, has lauded the "can-do collegiality" of City University London after being named its next head. A former Nasa research scientist, Professor Curran specialises in ecological Earth observation, an area he was first attracted to as an undergraduate at the University of Sheffield. "The first satellite images of Earth came through and I realised everything I was interested in was there in one picture," he explained. He went on to work for the Nasa Ames Research Center in California in the late 1980s, which at the time operated the world's largest environmental satellite. Describing this "tremendous" experience, he said: "It wasn't just the resources available; it was the realisation that we had this tool to look at the Earth from space and do things on a scale never seen before." After positions at the universities of Sheffield and Reading and a stint as a visiting academic at Australia's University of New South Wales, Professor Curran was appointed to a chair in physical geography at Swansea University in 1990. He moved to the University of Southampton in 1993 and joined Bournemouth in 2005. Although the move to City will mean leaving the coast, Professor Curran said that he would keep a house there so that on "some weekends we can see the sea". He aims to get City into the top 200 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. "City is in a position to be with the world-leading universities by the end of the decade," he said.

University of Reading

Rachel McCrindle

A professor who came to the academy from industry and confesses a love of "shiny gadgets and fast sports cars" has been honoured for her knowledge-transfer work. Rachel McCrindle, professor of human-computer interaction and director of enterprise at the University of Reading's School of Systems Engineering, has won the 2010 Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) Academic Excellence Award. She said she became involved with her first KTP, which aim to exploit the expertise of academics to help businesses, in 1994, soon after arriving at Reading. "I thought it was a good way to keep my industrial skills sharp by combining my research and enterprise," she said. Since then, Professor McCrindle has been what she terms a "serial offender" in KTP, with more than 20 projects to her name. Although her first degree was in botany, her research interests have shifted and now focus on ways to make computer technology more accessible.

University of Bristol

Tim Harrison

For a recent Times Higher Education feature, schoolchildren were asked to describe the sort of person they thought worked in a university. One suggested that it was likely to be someone with "big hair and a white coat who pours stuff into beakers". He may not fit this stereotype, but Tim Harrison, Bristol ChemLabs teacher fellow in the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol, has made a habit of pouring "stuff" into beakers in order to promote chemistry in schools. In recognition of his work to engage children with science, which has included inspirational workshops, competitions and summer schools, he has been presented with a Hauksbee Award from the Royal Society, an accolade that aims to honour the "unsung heroes" of science. Mr Harrison's contribution has also included work with postgraduate chemists to ensure that they are able to communicate their scientific research and discoveries to school-age audiences, including writing articles for pupils and teachers. His teaching career began in 1982 at Crown Woods School in Eltham, London, and he has also worked at a school in Queensland, Australia.

University College London

Kenneth Phillips

The Polish Academy of Sciences has awarded its highest honour, the Nicolaus Copernicus Medal, to Kenneth Phillips, visiting professor at University College London. Professor Phillips has worked at Poland's Space Research Centre in Wroclaw on solar flare X-ray emissions and other fields. Last year, he was awarded the Gold Medal of the University of Wroclaw for his work with Polish colleagues on the experimental detection of solar coronal heating mechanisms. Professor Phillips is an alumnus of UCL who has held senior positions at the Nasa Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. He said his interest in astronomy dates from an early age, recalling that "my first sunspot drawing was when I was 12, made on 5 July 1958". After pursuing his interest at the undergraduate level, Professor Phillips went on to complete a doctorate at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory and then took up postdoctoral fellowships in the US. He returned to the UK in 1976 to accept a position at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, a post he held until he took early retirement in 2002. Unusually, Professor Phillips has a planet named after him. Minor Planet No 13991 (kenphillips) was discovered by the European Southern Observatory in 1993.

Other changes ...

Damian Fogarty, senior lecturer in renal medicine at Queen's University Belfast, has been appointed chairman of the UK Renal Registry.

The Regional Studies Association has made several appointments:

- David Bailey, professor of international business strategy and economics at Coventry University Business School, has been re-elected chair for a further three years.

- Gillian Bristow, reader in economic geography at Cardiff University, has been appointed vice-chair and secretary.

- Martin Jones, professor of geography at Aberystwyth University, has been elected chair of the journal management committee.

- John Bachtler, professor of European policy studies at the University of Strathclyde, has been made a co-optee to the board.

- Peter de Souza, first assistant professor at Hedmark University College, Norway, and chair of the association's Nordic International Section, also joins the board.

- David Prosser has been made executive director of Research Libraries UK, a consortium of 29 of Britain's largest research organisations.

- Ann Le Mare, lecturer in geography at Durham University, has won the Economic and Social Research Council's Michael Young Prize for 2010.

- John Duffield has been appointed vice-principal (academic) at Edinburgh Napier University. He is currently pro vice-chancellor and executive dean of the University of the West of England's Faculty of Health and Life Sciences.

- Grace Lees-Maffei has been promoted to reader in design history at the University of Hertfordshire's School of Creative Arts.

- Joan Farrer is joining the University of Brighton's School of Architecture and Design as principal lecturer in design and materials.

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