December 6, 2012

University of Warwick

Sridhar Seetharaman

WMG (formerly Warwick Manufacturing Group) has appointed Sridhar Seetharaman to the Tata Steel and Royal Academy of Engineering joint chair for research into low-carbon materials technology. Professor Seetharaman, currently Posco professor of materials science and engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, will take up his position at the University of Warwick in March. His research interests focus on the kinetics and thermodynamics of high-temperature reactions and transformations that can help to improve the efficiency and product quality of metals, particularly steels. "The UK used to be at the forefront of (these fields), and I think that can be brought back again," he said. "There isn't much [going on] in Europe overall, and the UK could be the hub of this research again." He said that he wanted to make Warwick a "world-class institution" in process metallurgy as well as bringing back engineering at the highest academic level as an educational avenue for students who wish to enter industry. After gaining his undergraduate degree from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Professor Seetharaman completed his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before joining Carnegie Mellon, where he has spent most of his academic career, he was a research associate at Imperial College London.

University of Brighton

Guy Julier

One of the main aims of the new professor of design culture at the University of Brighton is to "raise the level of debate" about the role of design in society. Guy Julier said that the mission of the Victoria and Albert Museum, where he is currently principal research fellow in contemporary design, has since its inception been educational in raising awareness of design and that he wants to continue that. "Design history has existed as a discipline for 40 years, and design is being discussed increasingly in the humanities and social sciences, but I don't think there is sufficient appreciation of how each can enrich the other. I'd like to support more dialogue." Professor Julier thinks it is "glib and lazy" to say that life has simply become more aestheticised through design. "Design culture involves social relationships and works at all kinds of levels," he said. "(For example) in the production of urban identities so that city branding, planning, the patina of cultural infrastructure - but even myth and rumour - create particular aspirations and ways of living." Professor Julier studied the history of art at the University of Manchester before obtaining an MA from the Royal College of Art and a PhD from Leeds Metropolitan University.

Association of American University Presses

Peter Berkery

The incoming executive director of the Association of American University Presses has said that he is "genuinely humbled" to have been offered the role. Peter Berkery, who will take over in March 2013, joins the AAUP from Oxford University Press, where he served for four years as vice-president and publisher for the US law division. "Many small to mid-size university presses are in the throes of an existential crisis; they are facing a perfect storm of technology disruption, unprecedented budgetary pressures, and a fight for relevance within their individual ecosystems," he said. "I want to bring the depth and breadth of the AAUP's resources to (help) members meet these challenges and thrive in what promises to be a radically altered landscape." Mr Berkery has a BA in classical studies from Boston College, an MA and JD from the American University, and a master's in law from George Washington University. He spent 11 years at the publisher Wolters Kluwer before joining OUP, and he has extensive experience in government affairs and association management.

Heriot-Watt University

Alex Speers

Facilitating interdisciplinary "industrial research" in the malting, brewing and distilling sectors will be on the menu for the new director of the International Centre of Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University. "We want to work with industry and expand it," said Alex Speers, currently a professor at Canada's Dalhousie University, who will also become professor of brewing and distilling at Heriot-Watt. "In doing that, we want to use all the sciences ... This kind of work involves applied sciences, biology, physics and chemistry." Professor Speers uses physical chemistry tools to solve problems that occur in fermentation, looking at yeast flocculation - the clumping together of brewing yeast once the sugar has been fermented. Professor Speers' interest in brewing developed when, as a student, he spent five summers working in a brewery. "I learned just about everything about the business and got hooked," he said. Professor Speers studied for a BSc, an MSc and a PhD at the University of British Columbia, all sandwiched between stints working at Molson Brewery and in the oil and gas industries. Despite his expert knowledge, he is always wary of people asking him what is the best beer. "The answer is: the one you like," he said. "It's very diplomatic, but it's really true. It's presumptuous to think you can tell somebody what the best beer is. It's a matter of personal taste."


The University of Salford has named Maggie Pearson as pro vice-chancellor and dean for health and social care. She will join the university in the new year. For the past 20 years, Professor Pearson has gained board-level experience in local and national NHS organisations, and her international research has focused on health services, inequalities, diversity and people's management of their health.

Caroline Quest has been appointed director of enterprise and business development at the University of Leicester. Ms Quest joins Leicester from Queen Mary, University of London, where she was director of enterprise and innovation.

A University of Huddersfield professor has been appointed the new president of the Society for the Study of Labour History. Keith Laybourn was chosen as the successor to Eric Hobsbawm, who died in October. Professor Laybourn was already serving as secretary of the society when fellow members nominated him as the new president.

The University of Manchester has appointed a leading professor of cardiology to head its new Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and to lead an initiative to further develop cardiac research in the city. Bernard Keavney, who joins from Newcastle University, will also take up the position of consultant cardiologist at Central Manchester NHS Foundation Trust in April.

Malcolm Grant, the outgoing president and provost of University College London, has been named president of the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics. Cara was founded in 1933 as a response to Hitler's closure of German universities to Jews and other groups. "Cara has performed a vital function for 80 years in helping academics across the globe to escape from persecution and rebuild their lives," Professor Grant said.

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