August 12, 2010

Harvard University

Dariusz Gorecki

A "disciple" of molecular medicine is making a pilgrimage to Harvard University for a Fulbright distinguished scholar fellowship in the department of pathology. Dariusz Gorecki was born in Warsaw, Poland, where he studied at undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral level. He found it difficult deciding what to study. "I was always interested in history, war and medicine," he said. "Curiously, the combination of the three, ie, the history of war medicine, I did not find enticing at all." After deciding to focus on medicine, he was "persuaded that it is the scientists who make all the medical progress possible while clinicians just implement their discoveries". He developed his research career at the University of Cambridge, where he worked on Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) for a six-year stint, and then moved to London after securing a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellowship. This resulted in "a further four years in London's traffic jams and a few more research papers on DMD in the brain". He is now professor of molecular medicine and director of research at the University of Portsmouth. In his spare time he enjoys "history (not too ancient), trekking (humbly sized hills), skiing (pastel-coloured pistes)".

University of Washington Tacoma

Loraine Leeson

It was as an undergraduate student of fine arts that Loraine Leeson realised the scale of her ambitions. "My desire to make art was coupled with a need to use my skills to help bring about a better society," she said. With this aim, she applied for a Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst bursary from the British Council and moved to Germany for a year. When she returned to the UK, she searched for art projects that would "become not so much a 'drop in the ocean', as part of a groundswell for social change". Through the 1980s and 1990s, she worked in East London, "pressing for local needs to be met and not just those of big business". Dr Leeson joined the University of East London at the turn of the century as visiting research Fellow, and her work on community engagement has won international recognition. She is now moving to the University of Washington Tacoma as Fulbright scholar-in-residence, where she will be charged with helping to incorporate community engagement into existing course modules.

University of Chichester

Jacqueline Simpson

A renowned scholar of folklore is to join the University of Chichester's Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy as a visiting professor. Jacqueline Simpson was born in Worthing in Sussex, and said that the stories her father told her as a child about local legends inspired her later career. "He used to tell me stories such as if you run seven times around Chanctonbury Ring, the Devil would come out and give you a bowl of soup," she recalled. Professor Simpson studied for her undergraduate degree in English literature at Bedford College for Women, now part of Royal Holloway, University of London, and for her master's at King's College London, where she specialised in Icelandic folklore. "I've always been more interested in the local legend rather than the international fairytale," she said. "So the Cinderella and Snow White stuff, while charming, isn't for me. I prefer stories rooted in a particular landscape and area." She recalled meeting the author Terry Pratchett at a book signing in 1997. "I rather cheekily gave him a copy of my book on Icelandic folklore as I thought he'd enjoy it," she said. "He then demanded I tell him everything I knew about magpies." Professor Simpson received occasional phone calls from the author about folkloric points, before he suggested writing a book on the subject as it related to Discworld, the fictional setting for his novels. She said the area of local folklore had been "sadly neglected" by English universities. "Ireland and Scotland appreciate the importance of their folklore heritage, but England has been rather backward in recognising its own folklore," Professor Simpson said.

Edge Hill University

Elke Weismann

A media lecturer at Edge Hill University is off to Hamburg to broadcast news of a group set up to enhance the development of television studies. Elke Weismann has been appointed vice-chairman of a new television studies section for the European Communication Research and Education Association. Dr Weismann said her love of television was evident in her dissertation. "I based part of it on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was absolutely addicted to it as a kid," she said. She also appreciates the more serious role of television, summed up for her as a teenager when she watched the fall of the Berlin Wall in her native Germany. "It was amazing to see that on television live and see people fall into each other's arms as the Wall came down," she said. Dr Weismann went on to study at the universities of Glasgow and Reading before joining Edge Hill. She said scholars of television should stop feeling "apologetic" about their work. "It's a pity we feel this way because television is a central cultural force," she said.

Other changes

UHI Millennium Institute, the prospective University of the Highlands and Islands, has appointed Euan Black as head of its management school. Mr Black was previously continuing professional development manager at the institution.

Nottingham Trent University has appointed Eunice Simmons as dean of its School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences. Dr Simmons was previously at the University of Cumbria.

Nick Foskett has taken up his position as the new vice-chancellor of Keele University. Professor Foskett was formerly dean of the Faculty of Law, Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Sheffield Hallam University has appointed Alistair Sambell as new pro vice-chancellor for its Faculty of Arts, Computing, Engineering and Sciences. Professor Sambell is currently dean of the School of Computing, Engineering and Information Science at Northumbria University.

Martyn Chamberlain, a lecturer in the social and communication studies department at the University of Chester, has been shortlisted for the Sociology of Health and Illness Prize 2010 for his book Doctoring Medical Governance: Medical Self-Regulation in Transition.

The University of Warwick has announced the appointment of two co-directors of its new Institute of Digital Healthcare: Jeremy Wyatt as professor of e-health innovation, joining from the University of Dundee, and Christopher James as professor of healthcare technology, joining from the University of Southampton.

Andrew West, director of student services at the University of Sheffield, has been elected chair of the Association of Managers of Student Services in Higher Education for two years.

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