Inside track...

February 2, 2007

Our occasional column keeps you abreast of developments in the jobs market, from tip-offs and career pointers to who's on the move in your field

Chemical attraction

A £17 million investment in new laboratories and facilities has helped Liverpool University's chemistry department secure the services of two international researchers.

The department has recruited Andrew Evans, an organic chemist from Indiana University, and Mats Persson, an expert on surfaces, molecules and atoms, from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.

Professor Evans brings with him a ten-strong research team, which will be supported by a new appointment to a Research Councils UK position in the department. Professor Persson has added two postdoctoral students to the mix.

The new appointments, combined with plans for a £8 million Centre for Materials Discovery and the most talented undergraduate pool in seven years, has given the department a welcome morale boost.

Stephen Holloway, the head of the chemistry department, said: "This has had a big impact on staff. It has shown them that we are moving forward, and we have had many stepping up to the plate and going for promotion because they can see positive things are happening."

Executive recruitment

The School of Management at the University of Wales Institute of Cardiff has given the lie to the notion that big hitters always gravitate towards bigger institutions.

Armed with a £1 million head-hunting pot, it has managed to poach one leading academic from the biggest university in Wales, and another from the biggest university in the UK.

Brian Morgan, director of the leadership and enterprise unit at Cardiff University's Business School, is due to become the head of the Centre for Creative Leadership and Enterprise in March.

Graham Hall, formerly professor of management at Manchester University's Business School, arrived this month to take charge of the Uwic's MBA programme.

David Pritchard, dean of Uwic's Business School, said the appointments were part of the university's push to strengthen its research credentials and gain research degree-awarding powers.

Professor Pritchard said it was more than money that attracted the new recruits. "I think the attraction of Uwic for these highly rated academics is that it is a place where they can make a real difference, and they will be working in an institution that is close to market," he said.

Cardiff gets the score

One of Britain's most prolific composers is to take up a three-year academic post at Cardiff University's School of Music.

Judith Weir CBE, who until recently held positions at Princeton and Harvard universities, now joins the school as distinguished visiting research professor in composition.

She told Inside Track that a 20-year working association with the school's ensemble-in-residence, the Schubert Ensemble, and close contacts with others including Anthony Powers, the school's head of composition, had helped raise her interest in the post.

Another attraction was Cardiff's new International Academy of Voice, as Professor Weir has worked predominantly in opera and music theatre since the early 1980s.

Forensic explorers

John Gow, an expert in DNA analysis, was among the many staff who took voluntary severance from Glasgow University last year. But he did not abandon higher education.

Crucial Genetics, his spin-off company specialising in civilian paternity testing and criminal forensic work, is relocating to Glasgow Caledonian University, where Professor Gow is now director of the Centre for Forensic Investigation.

Glasgow Caledonian is launching an MSc in the autumn, and Professor Gow will shortly take on a postdoc and two PhD students. But more studentships could be forthcoming if his proposed expansion of DNA profiling, designed to exploit the massive popular interest in family history, proves lucrative.

Engineering a life aquatic

University science and engineering departments, which have been struggling to reverse declining numbers of applications, could find themselves the new "in thing" as the oil and gas industry begins a drive to raise the profile of what it describes as "one of the most exciting industries".

The oil and gas industry's heaviest hitters, working through their representative body, Subsea UK, are launching a campaign to inspire 10,000 pupils to consider a career in science and engineering.

It aims to recruit an extra 100 engineering graduates this year and next, as well as 100 mature engineers from other industries.

As part of the national initiative, Robert Gordon University is starting a course for engineers and non-technical staff to prepare them for a new career. The global subsea sector is short of about 3,000 engineers, with the UK needing the majority. Subsea is understood to be working with a number of institutions with specialist expertise, including Aberdeen, Durham and Manchester universities as well as Robert Gordon.

David Pridden, Subsea's chief executive, said: "Our member companies are developing space-age technology under water.It's one of the most exciting industries to be in, but we need to get that message out there. We want people to think of subsea in the same way they think about Nasa."

The industry grew by about 30 per cent in the UK last year, and the same growth is expected this year.

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