A professor of chemistry education who left "boring" industry for academia has been elected president of the education division at the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). Tina Overton, who has worked at the University of Hull since 1992, said she was hoping to use her new role to "raise the profile of chemistry education in society and beyond". Professor Overton left school at 18 to work in industry. She went on to join the NHS and it was while studying for a part-time degree at Humberside Polytechnic that she discovered her passion for academia. She went on to do a PhD, researching heterogeneous catalysis. Of her move away from industry, she said: "It was boredom. There wasn't enough of a challenge." Professor Overton worked at Humberside College as a postdoctoral Fellow and lecturer before moving to Hull. She was teaching Fellow, lecturer and senior lecturer before being appointed professor. In 1998 she was awarded the RSC Higher Education Teaching Award and won the society's Tertiary Education Award in 2005 and the Nyholm Prize for Education in 2009. She said that "boring" was not a word she would use to describe her current career: "What I'm doing now is the most challenging job I've ever done, and I love it."
European Science Foundation
Markku Mattila, president of the Academy of Finland, has been elected vice-president of the European Science Foundation. A specialist in occupational safety engineering, Professor Mattila has since 2007 been head of the Academy, which funds research, supplies science and science policy expertise, and aims to strengthen the position of science and research. He said that being a scientist was sometimes an exhilarating experience. "There is the possibility of finding something new all the time. It's very rewarding when, during your work, you discover new phenomena you can discuss with your colleagues. Although the everyday work is hard and lonely in many cases, it's still a privilege to be a scientist." As well as using his new role to champion the thriving scientific community in Finland, he said he wanted to share his experiences with colleagues throughout Europe in the hope it would provide a point of reference during lean times for government funding. "There was a recession in the late 1990s in Finland but the government continued to fund R&D and education," he said. "That's the message I'd like to share with colleagues to help them convince national governments and European policymakers (to do the same)."
A cricket umpire and coach with a passion for the LA Times crossword has been appointed director of the research institute in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. John Hattie, who is currently professor of education at the University of Auckland, began his career as a tutor in education at the University of Otago and went on to become senior tutor before moving to the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in Canada. Since then, he has worked at institutions including the University of Western Australia, the University of New England and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He returned to his native New Zealand in 1998 to take up his current position at Auckland. Away from academia, he has four sons, two of whom are accomplished underwater hockey players. "I've got one son in the New Zealand team, another was a gold medal winner at the World Games in the UK," he said. Despite his active research interests, Professor Hattie said he still managed to read 60-80 novels a year.
Queen Mary, University of London
Bringing a bit of small-screen glamour to Mile End, historian and broadcaster Amanda Vickery says she "can't wait to become an East Ender" when she takes up a new role at Queen Mary, University of London in the new year. Professor Vickery, whose BBC Two series At Home With The Georgians is to be broadcast soon, has been appointed professor of early modern history at the institution. An expert in the history of women, gender, culture and family, she said her current niche was not where she initially envisaged her career going: "When I went to university I thought Gladstone and Disraeli would be the things I was most interested in. I never imagined I would become the kind of historian I am, but that's how my work evolved." She initially studied for a BA in history at Bedford College. She later returned to the college, which had merged with Royal Holloway, University of London, to study for a PhD on women's lives in 18th century Northern England. Professor Vickery became a lecturer at Royal Holloway on modern British women's history and rose to the rank of professor, setting up the Centre for the Study of the Domestic Interior with the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal College of Art along the way. "I've enjoyed my broadcasting career in parallel, it's brought my research to a much wider audience," she said. "It also helps students feel they are doing a subject that is worthwhile."
Blair Jenkins, former director of broadcasting at STV and former head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland, has been made visiting professor in journalism at the University of Strathclyde.
St Cross College, University of Oxford, has elected Sir Mark Ellis Powell Jones, currently director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, as master of the college.
Sir Robert Balchin, pro-chancellor of Brunel University, has been appointed to the House of Lords as a Conservative peer.
Nottingham Business School, part of Nottingham Trent University, has made two new appointments to the roles of associate dean and head of commercial activities. The former post will be filled by Rebecca Taylor, former head of economics at Nottingham Business School. The latter has gone to Dawn Albery, who has worked at the school since 1995 in various academic posts.
Nick Lieven, professor of aerospace dynamics and dean of engineering at the University of Bristol, has been promoted to the post of pro vice-chancellor, education.
Mark Everist, professor of music at the University of Southampton, has won the Ruth A. Solie award from the American Musicological Society for his book Music, Theater, and Cultural Transfer: Paris 1830-1914 (2009).
Margaret Greenfields, reader in social policy at Bucks New University, has been appointed director of the institution's new Institute for Diversity Research, Inclusivity, Communities and Society.