Appointments - 18 April 2013

April 18, 2013

University of Cambridge
David MacKay

David MacKay, who has recently been appointed the Regius professor in engineering at the University of Cambridge, said that despite a brief phase when he had other ideas, he always knew his career was destined to be in academia. “I grew up in an academic family,” he said. “When I was about 11, I thought I wanted to be an architect, but by the time I was heading towards O levels, I knew I enjoyed science and problem-solving.” Professor MacKay is the chief scientific adviser to the government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change and will continue in that role four days a week. “The notion of being a senior civil servant never crossed my mind and I’m still quite surprised to find myself sitting where I am today, but I’m having a great time,” he added. He said he had four areas he wanted to explore as Regius professor: working on whole energy system modelling; bioengineering activity - making systems more efficient and ecological; using kite power to extract wind energy; and designing reusable components for different industries. Professor MacKay studied at Cambridge as an undergraduate and obtained his PhD from the California Institute of Technology before returning to Cambridge in 1992. He has since held various academic positions at the university.

Roger Crouch, City University London

City University London
Roger Crouch

The new conjoint dean of the School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and the School of Informatics at City University London said he wanted to see more crossover between the disciplines. Roger Crouch, who oversaw the joining of the School of Engineering and the department of computer sciences at Durham University, said he saw many interdisciplinary opportunities. “Computer science has become a cornerstone of much of what we do in science, and maths underpins everything, so for me it’s very natural the three should come together,” he said. Professor Crouch said one challenge facing computer science was to encourage more of it in schools where children now “do little or no coding”. “I think we haven’t ever caught up and helped schoolteachers. Often IT was seen as the subject that you got the short straw to teach. There’s a misconception that one might have been pigeon-holed as geeky or a bit dull to study computer science when in fact it’s a rich and challenging area.” Professor Crouch studied at Imperial College London and the University of Manchester and held positions at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland and the University of Sheffield besides Durham.

Stephen Waite, Writtle College

Writtle College
Stephen Waite

“I would say I wasn’t your typical university attendee,” said Stephen Waite, the new principal of Writtle College. “I’m an ex-secondary modern student who went to a technical college originally to do an ordinary national diploma in science, but studied A levels because the programme had closed. That’s how it started.” Dr Waite, who took over his role at the beginning of April, said it was a combination of his interest in life science and middle-distance running that encouraged him to attend university. “I chose the University of Sussex [because] I had heard that David Bedford [a former 10,000m world-record holder] had been there at some point. That turned out not to be true!” He said that what attracted him particularly to Writtle - which specialises in land-based subjects such as agriculture - was the staff and students’ “pride to be involved with the institution”. “When I was here for the interview, I made a point of talking to them,” he said. “By and large they were extremely complimentary about the experience they got at Writtle, and there was a sense of loyalty to the college that you don’t always get among staff or students at other institutions.” Dr Waite completed his PhD at Sussex and has worked at numerous institutions including the universities of Brighton and Westminster.

Ed Louis, University of Leicester

University of Leicester
Ed Louis

The University of Leicester has appointed Ed Louis the director of its new Centre for Genetic Architecture of Complex Traits. The centre aims to improve the understanding of evolutionary aspects of adaptation in populations and the nature of disease, as well as helping to build tools for use in other disciplines. Professor Louis returns to Leicester having previously served as professor of genetics, director of research for biology and founding director of the Institute of Genetics at the university. “One of the big problems in modern biology is the understanding of the underlying genetics of the traits (phenotypes) we observe in organisms, from disease in humans to disease resistance in parasites to productivity in agriculture,” he said. “The research of the centre will concentrate on exploring and exploiting variation in yeast to understand the genetics of complex traits in yeast and other organisms, to build tools for use in other systems and to develop better yeast.” Professor Louis obtained a BSc in biology and mathematics from Clarkson University in New York State and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. He has held positions at Brandeis University in Massachusetts and at the universities of Oxford and Nottingham.

Other changes

Jack Zipes, a world-renowned children’s literature expert, has joined Anglia Ruskin University as Leverhulme visiting professor of storytelling, fairy tales and fantasy. In addition to his scholarly work, which includes editing the Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales and being the general editor of The Norton Anthology of Children’s Literature, Professor Zipes is an active storyteller and has worked with children’s theatres across Europe and the US.

Tony McNally has been announced as the chair in nanocomposites at the University of Warwick’s manufacturing group (WMG). Professor McNally, who joined WMG on 1 March from Queen’s University Belfast - where he was associate professor in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and director of the Polymer Processing Research Centre - will head a new research team within the field.

Rebecca Jester has been appointed the new head of department for adult nursing and midwifery studies at London South Bank University. Professor Jester, who began her role at the beginning of April, will lead and manage the adult nursing and midwifery department team.

The vice-chancellor of the University of Winchester has been appointed deputy lieutenant of Hampshire. Joy Carter was handed the position in recognition of her significant contribution to local, county and national life.

Imperial College London has appointed G. “Anand” Anandalingam, an expert in electronic markets and telecommunications networks, dean of its business school and professor of management science. Currently dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, Professor Anandalingam will take up his role at Imperial on 1 August.

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