April 28, 2011

New York University in London

Gary Slapper

A law professor who has helped turn The Open University into the biggest law school in Europe is joining New York University's London outpost. Gary Slapper, professor of law and director of the Centre for Law at The Open University, has been appointed director of NYU in London and global professor at the institution. When he joined The Open University in 1996, it had 690 law students: it now has more than 7,000 people studying the subject. Professor Slapper said that establishing the law school was a challenge. "Law is quite a conservative subject," he said. "Traditional methods are encouraged in a way you would not find in other subjects, such as dentistry. If you tried teaching 18th-century methods in dentistry it might be frowned upon, but in law, old is good." After studying as an undergraduate and a postgraduate at University College London, Professor Slapper gained a PhD from the London School of Economics and a qualification for teaching law in higher education from the University of Manchester. After working at several London colleges, he joined Staffordshire University before moving to The Open University. Professor Slapper said he had entered the academy because it was something he "was much more passionate about" than any other professional avenue open to him.

University of Portsmouth

Will Percival

For cosmologist Will Percival, who has been appointed to a professorship at the University of Portsmouth, "the Universe is like a laboratory where we can carry out experiments on a huge scale". This big-picture thinking comes naturally to Professor Percival, who said that one of the joys of the academy was the opportunity it offered scholars to engage in "blue-skies" thinking. "Most major scientific discoveries that eventually impact on our daily lives started with blue-skies research," he said. "Universities play a key role in keeping that going." Professor Percival worked for the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency before attending the University of Oxford to study for a doctorate. He then became a postdoctoral research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh's Institute for Astronomy. He joined Portsmouth as a lecturer in 2005, becoming a reader in 2009. His work was recognised by the Philip Leverhulme Prize in 2007 and the Royal Astronomical Society's Fowler Prize in 2008. He said of his subject: "Cosmologists have been looking at the Universe and applying current models of physics but they're simply not working - we know there's a missing piece of the physics jigsaw and we're working towards finding the next piece of the puzzle." Professor Percival said he was confident of "finding something significant" in the discipline within the next year.

City University of New York

David Crouse

A scholar in the field that could one day make invisibility cloaks a reality has been named director of the new Center for Metamaterials at the City University of New York. David Crouse, currently associate professor of electrical engineering in the Grove School of Engineering at the City College of New York, said that the potential of metamaterials went beyond the idea of invisibility: "The best-known examples are cloaking devices that allow light to wrap around objects, creating the perception of invisibility," he said. "But numerous other examples can be found in renewable energy and sensors." Professor Crouse studied for his undergraduate degree at Purdue University and went on to study for a PhD at Cornell University. In addition to his current roles, he is also the director of the CUNY Center for Advanced Technology, which conducts research leading to the production of commercial spin-offs. He said that he hoped the two centres could work together to develop and facilitate projects leading to "economic impact".

University of Bath

Chris Budd

Chris Budd has been made a Fellow of the British Science Association for his work helping students to tap into the potential of mathematics. The professor of applied mathematics at the University of Bath helped establish the "Bath Taps into Science" event, an annual science festival in the city, at the turn of the millennium, but stressed that it was not something he had achieved alone."While I coordinate it, it's definitely a team effort between the university and various other higher education bodies in the Bath area," he said. "What we're most proud of is that lots of schools come along and they don't come to look, they come along to do; they put on their own exhibitions." Professor Budd said his own love of maths could be traced back to his schooldays, a passion he was now trying to pass on to young people, for example by working with youth clubs. He said that Bath's annual science festival "combines my passion for maths and science with supporting and developing young people". In addition to his university position, Professor Budd is also professor of mathematics at the Royal Institution and education secretary for the London Mathematical Society. But he joked: "I also have two teenage children, so that's my main job."

Other changes

Ruth Harris has become the first professor of nursing practice and innovation at the Kingston University and St George's, University of London School of Nursing.

Chris Ashford, principal lecturer in law at the University of Sunderland, has been appointed reader in law and society at the institution.

De Montfort University has made Paul Edwards a visiting professor to develop its work on migrant businesses. He is currently professor of employment relations at Birmingham Business School and an associate editor of the journal Human Relations.

Helen Alexander, president of the CBI, has been appointed to succeed Sir John Parker as chancellor of the University of Southampton.

Leeds Metropolitan University has appointed Mohammad Dastbaz as dean of the Faculty of Arts, Environment and Technology. He joins the institution from the University of East London.

Dame Julia Goodfellow, vice-chancellor of the University of Kent, and Ian Taylor, former Conservative minister for science and technology, have been appointed to the council of the Science and Technology Facilities Council. They will serve on the body until 2014.

The University of Aberdeen has made three appointments: Steve Mason, currently Canada research chair in Greco-Roman cultural interaction at York University, Toronto, will take up the Kirby Laing chair in New Testament exegesis; Bernd Wannenwetsch, university lecturer in ethics, chair of the Faculty of Theology and Fellow of Harris Manchester College, Oxford, will join as professor of theological ethics; and Tom Greggs, professor of theology at the University of Chester, will become professor of historical and doctrinal theology.

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