An economist whose previous research has focused on such indelicate topics as methane emissions from animals has been appointed associate dean for research at the University of Portsmouth. Andy Thorpe, currently professor of development economics at Portsmouth, has taught at the university since 1993. Prior to that he was visiting professor in agricultural economics at the National State University of Honduras. He described his time in the country as a "springboard" for his early scholarly focus on the political economy of Central American agriculture. Since then he has undertaken a variety of research projects, looking into issues such as how methane emissions from animals are influencing the environment and how fisheries in Central Asia and Africa are being affected by climate and regime change. He said of his new role: "It will be a challenge in light of the new fees regime, the increased competition for funding and the forthcoming research excellence framework. It is, however, a challenge I look forward to taking on. In the current climate, I believe it is crucial to continue to explore synergies with businesses and other academic institutions, and also to encourage young researchers. I look forward to working collaboratively with fellow professors to identify new avenues of research that could have a meaningful impact on society."
A prominent environmentalist has been appointed associate director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles. Mark Gold, currently president of non-profit environmental organisation Heal the Bay, is an alumnus of UCLA, having received his bachelor's and master's degrees in biology and his doctorate in environmental science and engineering from the institution. He said that he was excited to be rejoining his alma mater: "UCLA's education enabled me to become an environmental leader at Heal the Bay, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to give back to the university through teaching, fundraising and leadership." Dr Gold has a long history of environmental advocacy in California; he served as Heal the Bay's executive director from 1994 to 2006 and was chair of the Santa Monica Environmental Task Force for 18 years, as well as being a member of the Urban Stormwater Federal Advisory Committee and vice-chair of the California Ocean Science Trust. At UCLA, he will devote half his time to the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and half to the university's development arm to attract donations for the institute. "The opportunity to have a hybrid job that's part-academic, part-development is really appealing," he said.
New College of the Humanities
An expert in the economics of warfare has joined the faculty of the New College of the Humanities. Eric Golson, who has been appointed lecturer in economics at the new private college in London, said he was attracted by philosopher and founder of the college A.C. Grayling's "fantastic" efforts to promote teaching and the student experience. "He is, in effect, trying to set up a US-style liberal-arts college in the UK with an emphasis on small class sizes," Dr Golson said. "I think it's important to convey ideas to students: the smaller the groups are, the better you can do that and the more focused you can be. We've gone the opposite way in the UK, and as a result one voice can easily get lost among many." Dr Golson studied for his undergraduate and master's degrees at the University of Chicago and received his doctorate from the London School of Economics in 2011. He was previously an Economic History Society anniversary fellow, a junior research fellow at the University of Oxford and a guest lecturer/teaching fellow at the LSE.
University of Canterbury, Christchurch
A New Zealand lecturer has won a national essay prize for a work on a local cemetery following last year's earthquake in Christchurch. Philip Armstrong, associate professor in English at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, won the accolade from Landfall, New Zealand's longest-running literary journal. He said inspiration for the essay came on his daily walk past the cemetery: "I walk my dogs there every day. When you do something like that you sort of stop noticing where you are, but I kept noticing because things would be different." Dr Armstrong studied for his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in English at the University of Auckland before moving to the UK to complete a PhD in critical and cultural theory at the University of Wales. He returned to New Zealand and taught in the English department at Auckland for three years before moving to Canterbury in 1998. Dr Armstrong said that writing the essay had helped him make sense of the devastation the earthquake had caused. "Living in a place where even the cemetery was liable to change day by day, it's quite an unusual experience. Many of us feel that it helps to record things like that, so I'm pleased that this is a record of my little corner of that."
Justin Fisher, deputy head for research at Brunel University, has been appointed head of its School for Social Sciences.
John Jeans, former chairman of GE Healthcare Limited and deputy chief executive officer and chief operating officer of the Medical Research Council, has been appointed chair of Cardiff University's council.
Polly Roy, professor of virology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has been awarded the General President's Gold Medal by India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in recognition of her research.
The UK Quality Assurance Agency has appointed Richard Jarman its director of public engagement. Mr Jarman joins from the University of Oxford, where he is currently head of government and community relations.
Aberystwyth University has appointed Jamie Medhurst head of the department of theatre, film and television studies. Dr Medhurst is currently senior lecturer in the department.
Alison Fox has joined the leadership, learning and change group in the School of Education at the University of Leicester as senior lecturer. She was previously based at the University of Cambridge and The Open University.
Ruth Wodak, distinguished professor in the department of linguistics and English language at Lancaster University, has been presented with the Grand Decoration of Honour in Silver for Services to the Republic of Austria by the Austrian government at a ceremony in Vienna. The award recognises her research on the discursive construction of national and transnational identities and patterns of racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism.