News in brief - 6 February 2014

February 6, 2014

Meet the new chief

The pro vice-chancellor for research and enterprise at the University of Southampton has been named the new chief executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Philip Nelson, who is also professor of acoustics at Southampton and chair of the general engineering subpanel for the research excellence framework, will take over from David Delpy in April. He will also serve as the EPSRC’s deputy chair. The Southampton graduate, who will be seconded from his university during his four-year term, has directed several spin-off companies. Last year he and Southampton co-founded the Science and Engineering South Consortium, a research grouping including the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London and University College London.

Digital humanities
The full Jonson

An interactive website has been launched to provide the definitive resource for study of the 17th-century poet and playwright Ben Jonson. Although best known for comedies such as Volpone, The Alchemist and Bartholomew Fair, Jonson (1572-1637) was a prolific producer of plays, poems, court masques and entertainments, prose works and letters, including several recently discovered pieces. As well as texts of the complete canon in both old and modern spelling, The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson Online, launched on 28 January by Cambridge University Press, includes 550 court records and other contextual documents; 80 critical essays; several hundred high-quality images; 100 music scores; details of 1,300 stage performances; and a bibliography of more than 7,000 items.

Fraunhofer centres
Four needed to get into gear

Fraunhofer UK plans to create up to four research centres in its first five years, according to the head of the country’s first centre, in Glasgow. Martin Dawson told the Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee inquiry into business-university collaboration that to give the Fraunhofer model a “proper chance” in the UK, more than one centre was needed. Professor Dawson, who is head of the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics and research director of the Institute of Photonics at the University of Strathclyde, added: “Everyone involved would like to see a cautious expansion.” The centres are based on a German model for applied technology institutions that offer research and development services to industry. The UK’s first was established in 2012 and is linked to Strathclyde.

Bone satisfies MPs

Sir Drummond Bone’s appointment as the next chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council has been approved by the Commons Science and Technology Committee. Sir Drummond, a former vice-chancellor of the University of Liverpool and president of Universities UK, is currently master of Balliol College, Oxford. After a pre-appointment hearing last week, the committee said that it was “satisfied that Sir Drummond has a good understanding of the challenges facing the AHRC, including making a distinctive contribution and underpinning the UK creative industries with a strong research base”. Pre-appointment hearings are not binding but should “inform ministers’ decision-making on whether or not to proceed” with appointments.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

The Times Higher Education Best University Workplace Survey sparked discussion (and celebration) on Twitter. @sunderlanduni, @UniKentStaff and @UniofNewcastle all posted celebratory tweets after making the top five on some measures. Even the official Twitter account of Prince Andrew, @TheDukeOfYork, chimed in, tweeting “Congratulations @HuddersfieldUni on achieving 1st place in 4 key areas of the #BestUniWorkplace.” Of one survey finding, @carolinepennock said “Surprise, surprise. 86.2% of academic staff often work more than their contracted hours”, while @AngelaKBoyle said results showing that academics in STEM subjects feel more valued than those in arts and humanities “say a lot about current fads” in higher education.

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