May 3, 2012

Royal Holloway, University of London

Philip Steinberg

An expert in Arctic geopolitics will this month swap the Sunshine State of Florida for the Home Counties and a prestigious fellowship. Philip Steinberg, professor in the department of geography at Florida State University, will join Royal Holloway, University of London to carry out a research project on Global Alternatives for an Interconnected Arctic as holder of a European Commission Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship. "Fundamental questions about what the Arctic is underlie questions of how it is governed," Professor Steinberg said. "Is the Arctic understood as primarily a region of land, water or ice; a distant or near region; an uninhabitable, uninhabited but habitable, or already inhabited region?" His appointment is intended to add to the Royal Holloway geography department's expertise at the intersection of geopolitics, cultural and historical geography. Professor Steinberg gained a BA in politics from Oberlin College, Ohio before completing an MA and a PhD in geography at Clark University in Massachusetts. He has been at Florida State since 1997.

University of Sheffield

Angela Hobbs

The first scholar to be named to the post of professor of the public understanding of philosophy at the University of Sheffield has said she was drawn to the role by the work the institution has put into the field. "Sheffield has already shown its commitment to public understanding and civic engagement. I was particularly attracted to the public outreach work...already being undertaken by the philosophy department there," said Angela Hobbs, who comes to Sheffield from the University of Warwick, where she was associate professor of philosophy. Professor Hobbs is an expert in ancient Greek philosophy. In her new role, she said, she will "build on the work I already do in public engagement...through the media of radio, TV, podcasts" as well as "continuing to do some academic lecturing and scholarly my own specialism". She aims to increase awareness of "what philosophy has to offer us". Although she has featured widely in the media - including appearances on the BBC Radio 4 programmes Woman's Hour and Today - she does not believe that her reputation precedes her. "I'm certainly not a star or a celebrity: most of your readers won't have heard of me," she said. She added that Sunday Times columnist A.A Gill's recent comments about University of Cambridge classicist Mary Beard showed that some media representatives want to "keep academics confined to libraries". After an undergraduate degree in Classics and then a PhD at Cambridge, Professor Hobbs accepted a research fellowship there before taking up her post at Warwick.

University of Wolverhampton

Nduka Ekere

The new dean of the School of Technology at the University of Wolverhampton was attracted to the university's "international reach" and hopes that he can help his department gain "the profile and reputation it deserves". Nduka Ekere, professor of manufacturing engineering and dean of the School of Engineering at the University of Greenwich, will join Wolverhampton in July following the retirement of Robert Moreton, the current dean."I am very excited by the opportunity to lead the school in a university with such a rich history...and a distinctive mission of providing access to higher education," Professor Ekere said. He has been at Greenwich for 10 years; before that he was associate head and director of research at the School of Aeronautical, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Salford. "I look forward to working with colleagues within the school and with other stakeholders to ensure that it enjoys the profile and reputation it deserves," he added. After a BEng in mechanical engineering from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, he completed an MSc in flexible manufacturing systems and robotics at Loughborough University and a PhD in manufacturing engineering at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, now part of the University of Manchester.

University of Bath

David Leak

David Leak, who leaves Imperial College London to take up a chair in metabolic engineering at the University of Bath, will work on a biofuels project funded by a recent £900,000 Industrial Partnership Award (IPA) from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. "This new chair is a fantastic opportunity to develop the broad theme of producing fuels and chemicals from renewables," he said. "This needs interdisciplinary collaboration between biologists, chemists and chemical engineers, and key people at Bath are already getting engaged in this new venture." Professor Leak took a BA in chemistry at the University of Cambridge, an MSc in microbiological chemistry at Newcastle University and a PhD at the University of Warwick. He said he looked forward to working with biotechnology company TMO Renewables, which contributed 10 per cent of the IPA cash. "Collaboration allows us to ensure that the research we carry out will have real impact, with new technologies commercialised and made available outside the laboratory."

Other changes

Two academics from Birkbeck, University of London have had their work acknowledged by prestigious bodies in their respective fields. Gabriel Waksman, head of Birkbeck's department of biological sciences, has been elected to the fellowship of the Royal Society, while Edward Melhuish, professor in the department of psychological sciences, has been conferred the award of academician by the Academy of Social Sciences. Professors Waksman and Melhuish have been respectively honoured for excellence in science and leading status within a discipline.

Heriot-Watt University has named Mercedes Maroto-Valer the first Robert M. Buchan chair in sustainable energy engineering. Professor Maroto-Valer is currently head of the energy and sustainability research division at the University of Nottingham. The establishment of the chair was made possible by a £1.3 million donation to the university by Mr Buchan, a mining entrepreneur and Heriot-Watt graduate.

John Hay has joined the University of Hull as the new pro vice-chancellor for research and enterprise. Professor Hay, who joins from the University of Surrey, where he was dean of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, will work with colleagues on the research excellence framework and help to strengthen the partnerships Hull has built with key business partners and other stakeholders.

The University of Glamorgan has named Andrew Thomas as professor of internal operations and supply chain management in the Faculty of Business and Society. Professor Thomas, who gained his experience in the aviation industry, has worked in further and higher education in Wales, and has held posts at both Cardiff University and the University of Wales, Newport. He joins Glamorgan from Coleg Sir Gar in Carmarthenshire, where he was director of the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment.

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