September 2, 2010

University of Reading - Stephen Belcher

A mathematician has been appointed to a chair in weather systems at the University of Reading. Stephen Belcher said that he became interested in meteorology when studying for a mathematics degree at the University of Cambridge. "What drew me is that you can look out of the window and see what you're studying," he said. "It has that immediacy and relevance." His new position has been created to lead the Reading Weather Initiative, which aims to integrate and enhance Reading's research into the physics, dynamics and forecasting of "high-impact" weather. Professor Belcher said that the initiative marked the beginning of "a more structured partnership" between the Met Office, which is sponsoring the chair, and the sector. "My role is to see that the initiative bridges the gap between academic research and the Met Office's operational practices," he explained. He said that he got frustrated by the view that meteorology was studied by geographers, and stressed that the subject was "a fundamental physical science".

De Montfort University - Alasdair Blair

An expert on British foreign policy in Europe has been rewarded with a prestigious Jean Monnet Chair by the European Commission. The role will bring European politicians on to campus at De Montfort University, enhance study of the European Union, and generate debate on related issues. Alasdair Blair, professor of international relations at De Montfort, said he got his "first break" at the University of North London covering for a lecturer less than a month after completing his doctoral viva. He went on to work on the European Working Time Directive at Nottingham Business School, part of Nottingham Trent University, as a one-year fellowship.

A move to Loughborough University followed, where he stayed for just one year of a three-year fellowship: "I was getting married and I needed a bit more money," he said.

He was then appointed to a permanent position at Coventry University, which he said was a "pivotal moment" in his career: "I'd been very research-focused before," he said, "but moving to Coventry took me down more of a teaching route." He worked in the history, international relations and politics department before moving to his current position in 2008.

King's College London - Peter Davies

A former major general in the British Army who went on to become director general of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is to combine his expertise in both areas to lead the Marjan Centre for the Study of Conflict and Conservation at King's College London. Born into a military family in Gibraltar, Peter Davies went to school in Wales before studying at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He was commissioned as second lieutenant in the Royal Signals in 1958 and went on to spend 33 years in the Army. During his military service, Major General Davies held a number of senior posts, ending his career as General Officer Commanding Wales. When he retired in 1991, he was invited to apply for the director general position at the RSPCA, although he admitted that, at the time, he was not an expert in the area. "I had no specific background in animal welfare other than that I'd always owned animals," he said. During his 11 years in the role, however, he "learned on the job" and became passionate about animal welfare. After stepping down at the RSPCA he went on to accept the job of director general at the World Society for the Protection of Animals, which he held until last year. He became involved in the war studies department at King's after a friend who was completing a BA there asked him for his help checking facts about conservation of wildlife during conflict. "I had a foot in both camps, you see, being in the army and in animal welfare," he said. He said he was very much looking forward to combining his two careers in his new role at King's. "I spent the first third of my life defending humans, the next third defending animals and combining those two issues in this way is a very exciting finale to my life," he said.

University of Dundee - Nora Kearney

Nora Kearney has been appointed as professor of nursing and cancer care at the University of Dundee. She brings with her a team of researchers that she has worked with to improve the experience of the patients and families affected by cancer. Although she describes herself as "not a traditional academic", Professor Kearney has held a range of senior positions in both clinical and academic settings and, most recently, was the director of the Cancer Care Research Centre at the University of Stirling. Professor Kearney said the appointment of her and her team was a "wonderful opportunity" to bring experience from a variety of disciplines, including nursing and psychology, to the science of cancer care. She will be based at the Dundee Cancer Research UK Centre, which was launched in February as Scotland's first link in a UK-wide chain of CR-UK centres. The centre specialises in the treatment of bowel, breast and skin cancer.


The University of Wolverhampton Business School has appointed Anthea Gregory as its new dean. Dr Gregory is currently the deputy dean of Hull University Business School.

Four mathematicians have been awarded the prestigious Fields Medal by the president of India in a ceremony at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Hyderabad. Elon Lindenstrauss, of Princeton University, and Ngô Bào Châu, of Université Paris-Sud, were awarded the prize for their work with applications to number theory. Stanislav Smirnov, of the University of Geneva, and Cédric Villani, of the Henri Poincaré Institute in Paris, received their medals for theoretical work in statistical physics.

The University of Greenwich has appointed Neil Spiller as head of the School of Architecture and Construction. Professor Spiller is currently professor of architecture and digital theory, graduate director of design, and vice dean at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London.

Zulfiqur Ali is the new dean of Teesside University's Graduate Research School. Professor Ali joined Teesside as a senior lecturer in chemistry and has also been reader, professor and assistant dean for research and innovation.

Nick Rogers, currently director of human resources at Kingston University, has been appointed the next director of human resources at University of the Arts London.

Peter Mills has taken up the role of vice-principal at Harper Adams University College. Professor Mills joins from the University of Warwick.

Durham University has appointed Richard Davies as director of the new Durham Energy Institute. He was previously director of the Centre for Research into Earth Energy Systems at Durham.

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