A professor has expressed his "surprise and delight" at becoming the first academic from the Republic of Ireland to sit on the governing body of the European Research Council. Nicholas Canny, a historian at the National University of Ireland, Galway, has been appointed to the post by the European Commission. "While I am a little daunted by the challenge, I consider it an honour," he said. Currently director of the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies, Professor Canny is also the first historian to sit on the scientific council. "I am particularly pleased that the selection committee decided in favour of somebody from Ireland to uphold the interests and perspectives of researchers in humanities and social science disciplines from across Europe," he said. Educated at Galway, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of London, he has held postdoctoral appointments at Harvard and Yale universities, the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences. In 2005, he was a visiting professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris.
London School of Economics
The peer who led a governmental study of the economics of climate change has received an award. Lord Stern of Brentford, chair of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and the Asia Research Centre at the London School of Economics, was honoured in the climate change category at Spanish banking group BBVA's Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards. The judges said that the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change had "shaped and focused discourse" on the economics of the subject. The report found that world economic growth would contract by at least 20 per cent if no action were taken to tackle the problem. Lord Stern, who expects climate change economics to become "the next Industrial Revolution", said he felt "privileged" to receive the accolade. But he added that he would have to revise some of the figures in the 2006 report, including the statistic that switching to a low-emissions economy would cost about 1 per cent of global gross domestic product each year. "The cost of cutting emissions is more than we estimated...because the consequences of climate change are already here," he explained. "Emissions are rising rapidly and the capacity of the ocean to absorb carbon is less than we thought. Also, other effects, particularly the melting of polar ice, seem to be happening much faster. We need to take more drastic steps, so the costs inevitably will be higher."
After two years away from Manchester, Tom Jefferies has returned to the city to become head of the School of Architecture at Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester, a joint venture between the institutions. Professor Jefferies moves from Birmingham City University's Institute of Art and Design. His research centres on the relationship between culture, space, built form, landscape and the contemporary city. When he worked at the school in the 1990s, he set up one of the UK's first postgraduate degrees in architecture and urbanism. Professor Jefferies returns with a brief to work with regional, national and international partners. The world's growing population meant that design and architecture would become more important, he said. "The design challenges of the future are huge. More than half of the world's 7 billion inhabitants already live in cities, and the design of urban space must meet society's needs for a sustainable, productive, engaging, low-carbon future." He said he hoped to "test the possibilities of sustainable urban space" in his new role.
A chemical engineer is planning to fund a programme to pair graduate students with high school teachers thanks to an award. Chris Ellison, assistant professor of chemical engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, has received a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation. It provides $500,000 (£312,745) for five years of research and educational initiatives on the motion of polymers, long chain molecules and their use in nanotechnology applications. "Our research will provide better understanding of polymer physics to improve advanced materials design," said Professor Ellison, who studied for an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at Iowa State University before completing a doctorate in the same subject at Northwestern University. "This research will improve things such as hard drive lubricant to make data storage more reliable, and microelectronic manufacturing to manufacture smaller, more efficient electronic components." He also plans to fund a programme that will link postgraduate students with teachers to conduct polymer research. The project will also seek to engage economically disadvantaged students in mathematics, science and engineering.
The University Alliance has made a number of appointments. Sam Jones has joined the mission group as head of communications. He previously worked at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in a similar role. Mark Leach, a former policy adviser at the Higher Education Funding Council for England, has been appointed senior policy adviser. Alex Miles has joined as policy and parliamentary adviser from the University of Sheffield, where he was business development manager for the Public Services Academy. Liz Shutt, previously senior policy adviser for the group, has been made head of policy.
Stella Butler has been appointed university librarian and keeper of the Brotherton Collection at the University of Leeds. Dr Butler joins from the University of Manchester, where she was deputy university librarian and associate director of John Rylands University Library.
Karen Brown is the new executive director of finance at the University of Salford. Ms Brown joins from Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, where she was executive director of finance.
Harriet Dunbar-Morris has moved from her senior policy officer's role at the 1994 Group to the University of Bath. Dr Dunbar-Morris is now executive assistant to Bernie Morley, Bath's pro vice-chancellor for learning and teaching.
The University of Stirling has awarded three honorary professorships in its Institute for People-Centred Healthcare Management. They have gone to: Ian Anderson, president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and a consultant in accident and emergency medicine at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde; Fiona Mackenzie, chief executive officer of NHS Forth Valley; and Fraser Shaw, consultant psychiatrist in addictions for West Dunbartonshire.