Inside track

July 21, 2006

Welcome to our occasional column to keep you abreast of developments in the job market, from tip-offs and career pointers to who's on the up in your field.

American effect
With the effects of US foreign policy hitting the headlines almost daily, it is probably not surprising that the field of American studies is focusing more on how the US impacts on the rest of the world.

Inside Track has heard from Judie Newman, professor of American studies at Nottingham University and chair of research assessment exercise panel L that covers the discipline, that there are new avenues of opportunity emerging.

Professor Newman said that the headline-grabbing interventionist stance of the US was now shaping job opportunities and research directions in the subject. Nottingham started to search for an academic with expertise in Asian-American literature.

"There's a definite trend, and I strongly suspect that other departments will be adopting a similar recruitment strategy," she said.

Shipping forecast
Engineering expert Michael Thompson, whose work on offshore structures and the capsizing of ships in ocean waves has been crucial for marine engineering, has been lured north of the border to Aberdeen, the UK's oil capital.

Professor Thompson, a fellow of the Royal Society, is taking up an engineering chair at Aberdeen University.

He is also emeritus professor of nonlinear dynamics at University College London and honorary fellow of Cambridge University's department of applied mathematics and theoretical physics.

He will join Aberdeen's new Centre for Applied Dynamics Research and is expected to foster collaborative three-way links between Aberdeen, Cambridge and UCL.

All change
There is something of a game of musical chairs going on among the senior staff at universities in the North East.

Inside Track has heard that, hot on the heels of Durham and Newcastle universities appointing new vice-chancellors, neighbouring Northumbria University is looking for new senior staff.

Tony Dixon, the deputy vice-chancellor, has confirmed he is leaving to help run an institution in Singapore. John Ditch, a pro vice-chancellor, has left under a compromise agreement.

He is also emeritus professor of nonlinear dynamics at University College London and honorary fellow of Cambridge University's department of applied mathematics and theoretical physics.

He will join Aberdeen's new Centre for Applied Dynamics Research and is expected to foster collaborative three-way links between Aberdeen, Cambridge and UCL.

Police search
The hunt is on for someone to head up a new Universities Police Science Institute in Cardiff, where police training and research will go hand in hand from next year.

The Institute is a joint venture between Cardiff and Glamorgan universities and the South Wales Police. It will offer the prospect of bobbies on the beat progressing through higher education up to PhD level.

The institute's director will build a research team and is likely to have a voice in national policy-making for policing.

Super Trooper
Life has no doubt been tough over the past few months for university registrars posted on the front line of a bitter pay dispute.

But union activists at Leicester University would have been quaking in their boots if they had heard that a tattooed former squaddie was being parachuted in to bolster their university's management forces.

David Hall, who leaves his post as academic registrar at Birmingham University to take over as Leicester's registrar and secretary in September, served as a soldier with the Royal Green Jackets in Germany and Northern Ireland for three years before setting out on a career in higher education.

Hall has no doubts that army life was very good preparation for the cut and thrust of academia: "I always remember that no matter how bad it gets, it's never as bad as freezing your nuts off in the trenches."

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