The new president of the Royal Astronomical Society has warned that further cuts to astrophysics could result in Britain losing a generation of talented young scientists. Roger Davies, Philip Wetton professor of astrophysics at the University of Oxford, said he has taken on the role at a critical time for the discipline. "The Science and Technology Facilities Council will fund half the number of postdoctoral research Fellows in 2012 that it funded in 2007, and that's before we enter into austerity measures," he said. Professor Davies said that astrophysics was an "extraordinarily important element of the UK's science portfolio" and warned that further cuts "could put in serious jeopardy this jewel in the crown of UK science". His key goal as president is to "succeed in making the case that astrophysics is an area that the Government should invest in and to expand the already excellent outreach efforts of the society". Professor Davies said his keen advocacy of outreach work stemmed from his own experiences as a teenager in Scunthorpe, when his interest in astrophysics was sparked by a series of night classes organised by the Workers' Educational Association. Before his stint at Oxford, Professor Davies worked for the University of Cambridge, where he completed his doctorate, Durham University and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona.
As the lights go up in Oslo for this year's Eurovision Song Contest, one audience member will be taking a particularly scholarly interest in proceedings. Phil Jackson, senior lecturer in the media department and programme leader for media, music and sound at Edge Hill University, will attend the event as part of his research for an upcoming chapter in an edited collection on music and identity. He said that he had grown interested in Eurovision as an undergraduate when it occurred to him that "Britain sends music that is in no way derivative of the music scene in this country". He said that British attitudes to Eurovision tend to be "dismissive of European culture" - something he attributed in part to the UK's island status. Mr Jackson is also launching a Eurovision Research Network, which will bring together academics, broadcasters, journalists and others to share ideas about the annual contest. Its aim is to address political, media and social theory issues and consider "what a Saturday night in May can tell us about the illusion of Europe". Mr Jackson predicted that the reaction to some of this year's acts may already be set in stone. "I've been joking that Iceland won't do very well after that ash cloud - especially if it stops me getting to Oslo," he said.
A life spent jetting between New Zealand and the UK may seem appealing to some, but for Glenn Burgess it was a period of "perpetual winters" that prompted him to quit his homeland to take up a full-time position at the University of Hull. Professor Burgess joined the university in 1994 as a lecturer and went on to become head of history. He has now been appointed pro vice-chancellor for teaching and learning. After completing his PhD at the University of Cambridge early in his career, he moved back to his native New Zealand to teach at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch. He said of his move to Hull in the 1990s: "It made a lot of sense to come here - my networks were here and the top people in the field were in the UK." He explained that as pro vice-chancellor he hoped to maintain an active research career, but admitted it would not be easy. "I definitely still intend to write and to research, but probably at a slower pace," he said. Of his aims in the role, he said: "I'm interested in ensuring that Hull has a curriculum that delivers and maintains a very high-quality student experience. I also want to make sure that we are producing graduates who have a real impact on their community, their workplace and the wider world."
The University of Northampton has honoured an academic who has worked for the university in its various guises for more than 30 years. Joanna Moxham, who recently stepped down as divisional leader in teacher education, was given the institution's annual Court Award in recognition of her contribution to and leadership of the university's initial teacher-training programmes. Ms Moxham originally worked as a secondary school teacher before moving to the Nene College of Further and Higher Education, which became the University of Northampton in 2005. She said she spent a "precarious" few years on short-term contracts, but went on to become course leader in initial teacher training. Ms Moxham said that she stayed with the university because of the variety of work on offer. "I didn't have a meteoric rise but was given more responsibility slowly and I enjoyed the work," she said. Winning the award was a "huge shock and a pleasant surprise", she added.
OTHER CHANGES ...
Media entrepreneur Alex Connock has been made visiting professor of media business at the University of Salford.
Lori Manders, director of development and external affairs at the University of Aberdeen, has joined the Council for Advancement and Support of Education's Europe board of trustees.
Peter Davies, professor of fluid dynamics at the University of Dundee, has been elected a foreign member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama has appointed Richard Benjafield as head of wind, brass and percussion.
The University of Sunderland has made several appointments. Julie Mennell has been appointed deputy vice-chancellor (academic). She will be responsible for student recruitment, academic programmes and partnerships and the student learning experience. Gary Holmes has been made pro vice-chancellor with responsibility for learning, teaching and academic programmes. Professor Holmes is also dean of the Faculty of Education and Society. John MacIntyre has been named pro vice-chancellor responsible for science, technology and the regional economy. He retains his role as dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences.
The Glasgow School of Art has appointed Philip Rodney, partner and chairman of Burness Solicitors, as chairman of its board of governors.
The University of Leicester has made Nancy Bayers bibliometrician in its David Wilson Library. Ms Bayers previously worked for Thomson Reuters in Philadelphia, US.