Celebrate Our Staff – March 2020

Here we celebrate our colleagues’ achievements across the University this past month.

Head of Security, Malcolm Dawson, and Deputy Head, Mark Bownass, with the Secured Environments award

Head of Security, Malcolm Dawson, and Deputy Head, Mark Bownass, with the Secured Environments award. March 2020

High safety standards recognised

Our strong and proven commitment to placing the safety of students, staff and visitors at the forefront of everything we do has been officially recognised.

Security Services have been awarded the police-certified Secured Environments accreditation, presented to organisations that demonstrate they have adopted key principles for protecting themselves against crime.

Operating on a large, 98-acre single site location just outside of the city centre presents the University with a complex set of challenges, and we work closely with local partners, such as West Yorkshire Police and Leeds City Council, to proactively manage the safety of the people and property on campus.

Malcolm Dawson BEM, Head of Security, said: “Receiving this award is a superb accolade. It reflects the high calibre of work done by all members of the Security Services to embed safety across the University.

“We are also extremely grateful for the support we received from members of the wider University community, who helped participate in the accreditation process.

“I would particularly like to thank those staff who worked tirelessly to achieve this award. Their excellent collaborative work was vital to our success. Key members of the team were Mark Bownass, Deputy Head of Security; Andy Gordon-Platt, Crime Prevention Advisor; Ian Crawshaw, Security Training Officer; PC Rebecca Hurrell, our Police Higher Education Liaison Officer; Danil Beekman, our Administrator; and Rebecca Damment-Vezzosi, Business Improvement Officer, who ably project managed the process. Throughout the entire accreditation we were also fully supported by Joanna Hynes, Deputy Director of Estates and Facilities Services.”

Dennis Hopper, Director of Campus Development, said: “This accreditation serves as a clear demonstration of the importance the University places on student, staff and visitor safety. I’m extremely proud of all the staff in the Security Services for the constant good work that this award recognises.”

The Secured Environments accreditation is valid for three years.

Water Woman Award winners

The Water Woman Award logo. March 2020water@leeds and Athena Swan have announced the first ever Water Woman Award winners

Winners have been announced for the first ever Water Woman Award.

Launched by water@leeds, in partnership with Athena Swan teams at the University, the awards aim to recognise the achievements of women in science and their power to inspire others.

By rewarding achievements by women whose work contributes to the scientific objectives of water@leeds in securing competitive research funds, producing world-class research or achieving significant societal impact, the Water Woman Award shines a light on their efforts in an academic world in which the hurdles are still greater for females.

The award is based on two equally weighted criteria: the nature of the achievement plus its potential for empowering and inspiring other women into following their example.

It is open to any colleagues at Leeds identifying as women and contributing to water@leeds missions.

The winners are:

Water Woman Award for Research Excellence (split award): Professor Lorna Dougan/Dr Tracy Aze

Water Woman Award for Research Funding (split award): Dr Cathryn Birch/Professor Pippa Chapman

Water Woman Award for Societal Impact: Professor Ann Mdee

Water Woman Award for Research Support: Dr Pazit Ziv

Special Commendations (for their stories, which serve to inspire and empower many others): Dr Paola Sakai/Dr Salma Al Arefi

See For Staff for full details of the winners.

Art historian Grisedla Pollock wins Holberg Prize

Professor Griselda Pollock, who has won the 2020 Holberg Prize. March 2020Professor Griselda Pollock, who has won the Holberg Prize 

Griselda Pollock – Professor of Social and Critical Histories of Art at Leeds – is the winner of this year’s Holberg Prize.

Awarded annually for outstanding research in the arts and humanities, social science, law or theology, the prize was established in 2003 by the Norwegian government and is worth NOK 6,000,000 (approximately £500,000).

Professor Pollock’s win makes this the first time that the award, which has been described as the ‘Nobel Prize’ for academic disciplines not covered by the more established Swedish accolades, has been awarded to an art historian.

A world-leading figure in art and cultural studies and a member of the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, Professor Pollock will receive the award in recognition of her profound influence on art history, as well as on related fields, including feminist cinema studies, trauma studies and Holocaust studies.

“I am as profoundly stunned as I am deeply honoured by the award of the Holberg Prize for 2020,” she said.

“It is the most prestigious international prize for scholars working in the arts, humanities and social sciences. It thus publicly endorses the value of, and urgent necessity for, our research and teaching.

“I thank my colleagues at the University for my nomination. This award arises not only from my own long career dedicated to challenging the wrongs and violence of the patriarchal, the sexist, the racist, the homophobic, the anti-Semitic and the Eurocentric in art, thought and culture, it is also a very public approbation and recognition of the intellectual and pedagogical importance and the larger cultural impact of feminist, postcolonial and queer interventions in the way we understand our cultures, past and present.”

Read the full story.

First female Classics Professor 

Emma Stafford, who has become Professor of Greek Culture. March 2020Emma Stafford has become the first woman at Leeds to take on the title of Professor of Greek Culture

Emma Stafford, of the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, has been promoted to one of the Chairs, making her the first woman to become Professor in the discipline of Classics at Leeds. She takes on the title of Professor of Greek Culture.

Classics has been taught at Leeds since its foundation – the Chairs of Latin and Greek dating from 1904, the year in which the University became an independent body. Neither Chair, however, has previously been held by a woman.

“I took the academic leadership route to this promotion,” said Professor Stafford, “so I feel it’s very much bound up with the success of Classics as a unit.

“Since joining the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, we’ve gone from strength to strength, and from September 2021 we’re introducing a new Single Honours programme in Ancient History to complement our BA in Classical Civilisation.”

Professor Stafford's new title reflects her research and teaching interests. These span ancient Greek history and literature, with a particular emphasis on the visual evidence for the history of ideas and cultural practices.

Her most recent research encompasses the reception of Greek myth in later periods. This can be seen especially in the work of the collaborative, AHRC-funded Hercules Project, which published its first edited volume in February this year. Three more volumes are due for publication during 2020 and 2021.

Professor Stafford added: “The promotion means a lot to me, as recognition of the value of my work in research and student education, as well as leadership more broadly.

“And I really like my new title! The ‘professor’ tag will be helpful when it comes to establishing new research contacts, while ‘Greek Culture’ (rather than the more traditional History or Literature) encapsulates my holistic approach to study of the ancient world.”

Teamwork pays off!

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Employability Team pick up their award. March 2020The Engineering and Physical Sciences Employability Team was honoured for helping students maximise their work experience opportunities 

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Employability Team has won Best University Placement Service (Under 500 Placements) at the National Undergraduate Employability Awards.

The award celebrates the work of placement services that have helped small cohorts of students – under 500 – apply and maximise their work experience opportunities.

The citation highlighted the fact the team from Leeds had managed to timetable compulsory employability lectures across eight academic schools, from first year students onwards.

It also acknowledged the work the team carried out forming cohesive partnerships with academics, meaning that academic staff shared the message about the importance of work-based learning in sessions with personal tutors.

For those students who couldn’t do a placement for personal reasons, the team’s close working relationship with academics meant it was able to create summer internship research projects, which led to 50 students being employed last year.

The team was praised for supporting international, disabled and widening participation students by developing additional resources and events tailored to them.

It also had an impressive 250 students attending an international event with Deloitte.

Triple appointment of NIHR Senior Investigators

Jane Nixon, Hemant Pandit and Mark Hull have all been appointed NIHR Senior Investigators. March 2020The School of Medicine now boasts three NIHR senior investigators 

The School of Medicine is now home to three National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Senior Investigators.

The appointment marks them out as leaders of patient and people-based research within the NIHR community and will enable them to continue to demonstrate research excellence to the wider community.

Professor Jane Nixon has been reappointed for her work in the field of nursing.

And the school is also celebrating two new appointments – Professor Hemant Pandit, for his work in orthopaedics, and Professor Mark Hull, for his gastroenterology and hepatology expertise.

Professor Nixon, from the Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research (LICTR), said: “This award reflects the personal benefits gained from NIHR funding, the NIHR funded NHS infrastructure, collaboration with like-minded clinical colleagues and the support and academic expertise of Professor Julia Brown, the Leeds CTRU teams and the infrastructure provided by the Faculty of Medicine and Health, enabling the design and delivery of a world-leading portfolio of research in pressure ulcer prevention and wounds.”

Professor Pandit, from the Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine, added: “I am very chuffed to receive this award. It has given further recognition for my work in translational research in orthopaedics and I will use this honour wisely to further improve patient outcomes and increase awareness amongst colleagues, patients and policy makers of the importance of various musculoskeletal pathologies.

“This honour is not just for me but also for my entire team based in Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine (LIRMM) and Chapel Allerton Hospital, as well as the University of Leeds as a whole, as it reflects the world-class research we do, and long may it continue.”

Professor Hull said: “I’m really proud that my contribution to NIHR leadership, grant review and cancer prevention research has been recognised by this prestigious personal award. I’d like to thank all the NIHR staff, University colleagues and, of course, the research participants for their help and commitment over the years.”

PhD researcher to rub shoulders with Nobel Laureates

Dr Balkees Abderrahman, named as an honouree in the Forbes Magazine 30 Under 30 list for 2020. December 2019Balkees Abderrahman has been selected to attend the next Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

Dr Balkees Abderrahman, a Leeds PhD researcher, has been selected to attend the world’s second largest congregation of Nobel Laureates.

With 70 in attendance, the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany is second only to the Nobel Prize Ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, and being selected to attend is widely recognised as a prestigious accolade in the world of science and medicine.

Thousands of academics from 100 countries have been nominated to attend by world-class scientists and official bodies, such as the National Academies of Science.

Through a rigorous multi-step evaluation process, the Lindau Council and Committee selects the world’s best young scientists for this honour, to help foster scientific exchange between different generations and cultures.

Many noteworthy guests of honour have visited the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings in the past, including the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel; philanthropist and entrepreneur Bill Gates; and the President of Singapore, Tony Tan, among others.

The meeting is currently scheduled to take place between Sunday 27 June and Friday 2 July 2021.

Dr Abderrahman is a split-site PhD researcher based at Leeds and is the Dallas/Fort Worth Living Legend Fellow of Cancer Research at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, Texas).

She works under the co-supervision of Leeds alumnus, V Craig Jordan CMG OBE, Professor of Breast Medical Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Professor John Ladbury, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Biological Sciences at Leeds.

Her research is focused on the molecular mechanisms underpinning tumour regression seen in patients with advanced breast and prostate cancers.

Dr Abderrahman was also named as an honouree in the Forbes Magazine 30 Under 30 list for 2020.

Prestigious prize for academic

Alex Dunhill, who has been awarded the Geological Society of London's Murchison FundThe Geological Society of London has recognised Dr Alex Dunhill

Dr Alex Dunhill – a numerical palaeobiologist in the School of Earth and Environment – has been awarded this year’s Murchison Fund by The Geological Society

The award recognises exceptional contributions to geoscience by an early-career scientist with £500 plus an invitation to a special reception and awards ceremony at Burlington House later in the year. It was given to Dr Dunhill as part of the Geological Society’s 2020 Awards.

He said: “I am both surprised and delighted to win the Murchison Fund.

“I’d like to especially thank my nominators for putting me forward for this award and also my many colleagues and collaborators, who have contributed massively to my work over the years.”

Dr Dunhill's work focuses on researching long-term evolutionary and ecological patterns in the fossil record, drawing on his specific expertise in quantifying biodiversity changes through Earth’s history and the broad scale evolutionary and ecological responses to mass extinction events.

Lecturer wins international competition

Dr Andrew Kirton, winner of the 2019 IJPS essay competition. March 2020IJPS essay competition winner, Dr Andrew Kirton

Dr Andrew Kirton has won the 2019 International Journal of Philosophical Studies (IJPS) Robert Papazian Essay Competition.

The award, named after Robert Papazian, a political prisoner in Iran who was executed in 1982, focussed on the theme of 'the ethics and politics of vulnerability'.

Dr Kirton, a Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures, said: “I feel deeply honoured to have won the Robert Papazian prize, given who he was and the values he stood for.”

His essay – Matters of Trust as Matters of Attachment Security – aimed to point out that trust and distrust, whether in close relationships or impersonal modern communities, are fundamentally shaped by the ‘attachment’ system, something that keeps us bonded to one another in close relationships and social groups.

Dr Kirton added: "I think our understanding of human cooperation can be enriched if we connect the dots between trust as it manifests in fairly detached contexts, like workplaces, political systems, business and marketplaces etc., and the primal bonding machinery that comes online when we are vulnerable infants with no choice but to depend on the love of parents for continued survival.

“I don’t mean to suggest that we should love our colleagues like our children, or all join in a writhing cult-like ‘free for all’ with no boundaries, or something. Rather, I’m suggesting that if it makes sense to talk of people of any distance from us breaking our trust, then this implies that there is some sort of bond to be broken, and this only matters to us as the kinds of things that form social attachments.

“Understanding this, I hope, helps frame why we get fluctuations in the gravitational centres of our unwieldy societies, in a way that could aid our ability to navigate the kinds of threat to humanitarian values that Robert Papazian himself defiantly stood up for.”

Customer Service Accreditation success

The Facilities has once again received Customer Service Excellence Accreditation. March 2020The accreditation highlights the Facilities Directorate’s commitment to putting customers first

The Facilities Directorate (FD) has once again received Customer Service Excellence (CSE) accreditation – a government standard that recognises an organisation’s commitment to putting customers first.

Following a tremendously busy year in 2019, services in the FD have worked harder than ever to deliver continuous improvement on their existing ‘Compliance Plus’ status.

Jo Hynes, Deputy Director Estates and Facilities, said: “I would like to thank and congratulate all our staff across Campus Support Services, Catering and Events Management, Marketing and Communications and Sport and Physical Activity.

“This achievement is testament to everyone’s continued hard work and commitment to deliver excellent service to our customers. This year we have achieved Compliance Plus across a further 10 accreditation criteria. This is a fantastic result and demonstrates our ability to deliver continuous excellence.”

The services received additional praise for various areas, including:

  • measuring customer satisfaction on a regular basis, then analysing and publicising those findings, and improving as a result
  • a corporate commitment to putting the customer at the heart of service delivery, with leaders actively advocating for customers
  • empowering and encouraging all employees to actively promote and participate in the organisation’s customer-focused culture
  • demonstrating a commitment to developing and delivering customer-focused services through recruitment and training policies for staff
  • providing customers with the information they need in ways that meet their needs and preferences, using a variety of appropriate channels; and
  • identifying individual customer needs at the first point of contact and ensuring an appropriate person, who can address the reason for contact, deals with the customer.

Top Chemistry accolade

'Accident and Convergency' won the 7th annual Retrosynthesis CompetitionAccident and Convergency – 2020 Retrosynthesis Competition’s winning team

A team from Leeds has won first prize at the seventh annual Society of Chemical Industry (SCI)/Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Retrosynthesis Competition.

Retrosynthesis is the process of breaking a target molecule apart until available starting materials are reached. This gives a forward synthesis for execution in the lab.

The national competition attracted entrants from universities and industry, with the final involving the 10 shortlisted teams presenting their retrosynthesis solutions to the judges and their peers. They were also questioned on their route and the choices they made.

The Leeds team, made up of Andrew Gomm (PDRA), Andrew Harper (PDRA), Chloe Townley (fourth year PhD), Scott Rice third year PhD) and Alex Hindle (first year PhD), are early career researchers from Professor Adam Nelson and Professor Steve Marsden’s research group within the School of Chemistry.

Professor Marsden said: “The team proposed the synthesis of a highly complex natural product that has never been made before. This stern challenge required them to draw on their scientific, teamworking and communication skills.”

Professor Nelson added: “The teams of early career researchers that made it to the national final came from a range of different universities and companies. The winning team from Leeds did brilliantly to triumph against this strong field!”

More information about the competition and SCI can be found on the SCI website and you can read the full story of Leeds’ victory on the School of Chemistry website.

Please contact Internal Communications if you or one of your colleagues would like to appear in this monthly feature. This is open to all staff – professional and academic.

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