Local boy Peter Lunt has returned to his home town to take up a post as professor of media and communication at the University of Leicester. He said he was delighted to be able to focus on research in a place "committed to developing interdisciplinarity". Professor Lunt has previously worked in psychology and sociology, as well as his present discipline, at the University of Kent, University College London and Brunel University. His research on early talk shows and public participation led to the study of reality television, including infamous shows presented by Jerry Springer and Jeremy Kyle, where he is "interested in both the serious intent and the sensational forms of the genre". Professor Lunt recently co-authored a book with Sonia Livingstone on media regulation and intends to study the public response to the forthcoming Communications Act. He also hopes to write a book on the genealogy documentary programme Who Do You Think You Are? and what it says about "the relationship between history, memory and identity. Many of the people who take part are self-made and believe in reinvention and then look back to their origins in mid-life." Professor Lunt said the return to his Leicester roots may prove an "intriguing feature" of his new job.
Patrick V. Kirch
A professor of anthropology and integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, has been awarded the 2011 Herbert E. Gregory Medal for Distinguished Service to Science in the Pacific Region. Patrick V. Kirch, a native of Hawaii, recalled that he began his career in Pacific science almost 50 years ago as a high school student at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu (the prize honours the memory of the museum's second director). He has served as director of both the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle and Berkeley's Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, and now heads Berkeley's Oceanic Archaeology Laboratory. He has led expeditions to the Solomon Islands and Tonga, and conducted fieldwork across the Pacific region. Professor Kirch is currently working in Moorea in French Polynesia, where Berkeley maintains the Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station, on a project "to understand what characteristics of island ecosystems made some of them more vulnerable to human disturbance than others". He cited as his proudest research achievement the Hawaii Biocomplexity Project, which "brought together an interdisciplinary group including archaeologists, ecologists, soil scientists, demographic modellers and others who have revolutionised our understanding of the long-term dynamic interactions between pre-industrial agricultural societies, their landscapes and sociopolitical organisations".
Edinburgh College of Art
A cultural historian with a background in fashion is the new principal of the Edinburgh College of Art. A graduate of the Courtauld Institute and the Royal College of Art, Chris Breward taught the history of design at the latter institution between 1994 and 1999 before becoming research director at the London College of Fashion. He has also curated exhibitions on 1960s fashion and London as a fashion centre. In 2004, he joined the Victoria and Albert Museum as head of research and has now completed much of the work for its major Olympic-year offering, the exhibition British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age. "It involved a lot of touring around the country to look at architectural practices, sites and objects," he said, "so I've been spending much time in Scotland, where I am very impressed by the strength of their creative industries." Dr Breward is looking forward to joining the college as it merges with the University of Edinburgh. "There is a great tradition of British art schools being embedded in research-intensive universities. It offers many opportunities for wider engagement with geographers, social and pure scientists to create something more than the sum of the parts."
A distinguished scholar of 19th-century European and American literature has taken up the post of dean of the faculty at Brown University. Kevin McLaughlin joined Brown in 1996 after teaching at Harvard University and St John's University and has chaired Brown's department of English since 2005. He is just completing his third book, about the impact of Kantian philosophy on poetry in England, France and Germany. Among the major challenges of the new role, he said, will be to complete the academic enrichment plan to expand the existing faculty. He also hopes to break down barriers between disciplines. "Natural scientists often work in intensely collaborative ways. But many humanists are lone wolves. I want to convene the humanists in collaborative work and to make interdisciplinary appointments that strengthen humanities as a whole, as well as individual departments. We often tell students that a humanities education is the best preparation for any profession - so this will be a test case for me."
Joanna Verran, professor of medical microbiology in the School of Healthcare Science at Manchester Metropolitan University, has won the Society for Applied Microbiology's Communications Award for her work to explain the principles of applied microbiology to non-scientists.
Richard McLaren, professor of law at the University of Western Ontario, has been named president of the Basketball Arbitral Tribunal. The body was set up by the International Basketball Federation in 2006 to resolve disputes between players, agents and clubs.
The University of Oxford has appointed Terry Lyons the new director of the Oxford-Man Institute of Quantitative Finance. Professor Lyons, the Wallis professor of mathematics at Oxford, is a founding member of the institute, which conducts research into quantitative finance.
Jon Scott, a lecturer in the department of cell physiology and pharmacology at the University of Leicester, has been named the UK's bioscience teacher of the year. Dr Scott won the Higher Education Academy Centre for Bioscience's Ed Wood Memorial Award, sponsored by Oxford University Press.
Imperial College London has named Simon Buckle its new pro-rector for international affairs. Dr Buckle joined the institution in 2007 to help establish the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, of which he is currently the director.
John Smart, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Brighton, has been elected chair of the Council of University Heads of Pharmacy Schools. Professor Smart, who is also head of the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, will hold the post from 2011 to 2013. He takes over from Anthony Smith, dean of the School of Pharmacy.