Celebrate Our Staff – April 2020

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

Two short story competitions have been won by Dr Rachel Bower

Double award win

Dr Rachel Bower has won both The London Magazine Short Story Prize 2019/20 and the Writers and Artists Short Story Competition 2020.

She is the author of Epistolarity and World Literature, 1980-2010 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and a poetry pamphlet, Moon Milk (Valley Press, 2018). She is also a Leverhulme Research Fellow, investigating the links between poets in Northern England and Nigeria in the 1950s and 60s, which will be published as a monograph with Routledge in 2021.

Dr Bower, from the School of English, said: “I am thrilled to have won The London Magazine Short Story Prize 2019/20 and the Writers and Artists Short Story Competition 2020.

“I would like to thank all of the judges and editors involved for their time and energy in making this happen, especially during such challenging times. It is a great honour to join the prestigious short-story writers recognised by these organisations over the course of their long histories.”

Her London Magazine winning story, Against the Tide, will be published in the June/July 2020 issue, while Potted Plants, her W&A winning story, is available to read now on the W&A blog.

You can also read her full acceptance ‘speech’ on the London Magazine website.

Dr Bower added: “The two stories are about human encounter, but also about loneliness and loss. In these very uncertain times, I hope that writing and reading can offer the possibility of hope, connection and community.

“I would like to applaud the many literary magazines, bookshops, artists and arts organisations for their continuing hard work and endurance during these difficult times.”

You can read more on the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures website.

Celebrate Our Staff April 2020. April 2020Professor Luke Windsor will become the next Dean of the Leeds Doctoral College 

Doctoral College Dean appointment

Professor Luke Windsor has been appointed as the next Dean of the Leeds Doctoral College.

He will succeed Professor Claire Honess at the end of the summer.

Professor Windsor is currently Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures and Professor of Music Psychology in the School of Music. Before coming to Leeds in 1998, he worked as a distance learning officer at the University of Sheffield and at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands as a postdoctoral researcher after completing his doctorate at City University, London.

Professor Windsor said: “Postgraduate researchers are fundamental to the work we do here at Leeds; they generate much of the very best research we do, teach and support students, and deserve to work in a healthy and developmental environment.

“I will work in partnership with academic and service leads, and with LUU, to continue the development of a Leeds Doctorate we can all agree on, and which ensures equity and quality.”

He added: “Times are hard during this global crisis: but we will prevail with energy, kindness and creativity. We won’t allow covid-19 to distract us from our mission as a University, and we will need to be agile to weather this storm.

“This role is an opportunity to bring together everything I love about being an academic: it’s about developing others and working across education, research and opportunity. I am looking forward to working with, and for, the next generation of thinkers and problem-solvers to help ensure they can meet the challenges of both the present and the future.”

Professor Jason Halford is the new Head for the School of Psychology. April 2020Professor Jason Halford is the new Head for the School of Psychology 

New Head for School of Psychology

Professor Jason Halford has become Head of the School of Psychology.

Since starting the role on Wednesday 1 April, Professor Halford has been getting to grips with the job in particularly challenging circumstances.

Professor Halford will use his appointment to consolidate the work the School is engaged in across education and research. The covid-19 outbreak itself is providing an opportunity to start illustrating how research can be translated into real-world impact, with highlights including the School’s involvement in organising crisis logistics, help for vulnerable groups in self-isolation and volunteering.

Professor Halford’s links with Leeds go back to his days as an undergraduate in the late 1980s, when he was taught by Professors John Rodgers and John Blundell; two academics he now counts among his colleagues.

Not only is he an alum, graduating with his PhD at Leeds in 1995, but Professor Halford’s wife, Lisa Richards, attended Leeds to study History, and his mother, Sandra Wood, studied Zoology here in the 1960s, making his appointment something of a homecoming.

Prior to joining the School of Psychology, Professor Halford was Head of Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Liverpool (2010-19), where his work still maintained strong links to Leeds – for example through the SATIN and then the SWEET EU Horizon 2020 project, which involved both institutions. Jason is also President-Elect of the European Association for the Study of Obesity, serving a three-year term from 2021.

Professor Halford said: “The School of Psychology at Leeds is a dynamic, research-based learning environment marked by excellence, innovation and partnership.

“Together, we provide a vibrant and proactive learning community dedicated to contributing to society. We translate world-leading research into real-world impact, which has resulted in innovative solutions positively impacting those around us.”

Professor Surya P. Subedi, who has been awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Hull. April 2020Professor Surya P. Subedi, who has been awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Hull 

Doctor of Laws honour

Accomplishments in the field of international law and human rights has seen Leeds Law Professor Surya P. Subedi QC OBE DCL awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, by the University of Hull.

Professor Subedi had obtained a Master of Laws (LLM) with distinction and a prize for best LLM student of the year at Hull in 1988.

Commenting on the award of such a high accolade, he said he was honoured by the recognition of his accomplishments by his alma mater.

Professor Subedi added: “It was immensely humbling to be awarded such a high academic accolade by a prestigious British university in recognition of my contribution to international law and human rights.

“This also is a recognition of the superb culture of research that exists at Leeds, which enables us to make a lasting contribution to a wider world and receive such external awards for our work.”

Upon completion of his LLM, Professor Subedi won an FCO scholarship to study for a DPhil (PhD) in Law at the University of Oxford and obtained his degree with a prize in 1993.

Last year, Oxford awarded him the highest degree – the Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) – in recognition of his contribution to international law and human rights.

The Early Career Research Leadership Fellowship will allow Dr Angelos Koutsourakis to explore ‘the Kafkaesque’ in a political context. April 2020The Early Career Research Leadership Fellowship will allow Dr Angelos Koutsourakis to explore ‘the Kafkaesque’ in a political context  

Early Career Research Leadership Fellowship

Dr Angelos Koutsourakis has been awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Early Career Research Leadership Fellowship.

Dr Koutsourakis, from the Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, said: “I am honoured to have received such a competitive award.

“It offers me the opportunity to work on a project beyond my comfort zone. The interdisciplinary quality of this project and the scheduled leadership and impact activities have the potential to raise my profile beyond the discipline of film studies.”

Due to start later this year, the project will be the first major investigation of ‘the Kafkaesque’ in World Cinema.

The project will aim to move away from the tendency to examine Kafkaesque cinema as an aesthetic of mood without any political content, in order to examine the transnational aspect of the Kafkaesque aesthetic, with the view to revealing its interconnection with historically specific experiences and persistent political contradictions.

Analyses of case studies from Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Chile, China, Cuba, the former Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, USA and the former USSR will deliver a crucial re-evaluation of the Kafkaesque as a critical category in film studies and will illuminate its political implications.

You can learn more about the project on the UK Research and Innovation UKRI) website.

Prize-winners Dr Katharine Mach, Harriet Thew and Oliver Grasham. April 2020Prize-winners Dr Katharine Mach, Harriet Thew and Oliver Grasham 

Piers Sellers Prize 2020: winners announced

Generating new possibilities for climate change risk assessment and responses has earned a researcher the prestigious 2020 Piers Sellers Prize.

Dr Katharine Mach, who has made a world-leading contribution to solution-focused climate research, will receive the award during a virtual event in June.

She is currently Associate Professor at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and a faculty scholar at the UM Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy.

The award is bestowed annually in the name of Piers Sellers, the former astronaut, climate scientist and Leeds alumnus, by the Priestley International Centre for Climate at Leeds. This year, nominations were focused on the contribution of an up-and-coming researcher or research group.

Additionally, two postgraduate researchers at Leeds have been named winners of the Piers Sellers prize for exceptional PhD research, and will receive their awards during the same event.

The 2020 recipients are Oliver Grasham, from the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Bioenergy, and Harriet Thew, from the School of Earth and Environment.

Find out more about the winners on the Priestley Centre website.

Among the recipients of a Future Leaders Fellowship are Dr James Poulter and Dr Lucy Stead. April 2020Among the recipients of a Future Leaders Fellowship are Dr James Poulter and Dr Lucy Stead 

Future leaders tackle global challenges

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has awarded three Leeds academics with a prestigious Future Leaders Fellowship.

Dr Charisma Choudhury, from the Faculty of Environment, and Dr James Poulter and Dr Lucy Stead, both from the Faculty of Medicine and Health, are all celebrating following the announcement.

The UKRI scheme invests in outstanding individuals across the UK, and these research and innovation leaders will be supported to develop their careers while tackling ambitious global challenges, such as understanding our future travel behaviour, combating disease and developing treatments and therapies.

The scheme provides sustained funding and resources for the best early career researchers and innovators, allowing them the time and flexibility to tackle ambitious research projects.

Dr Charisma Choudhury is an associate professor in the Institute for Transport Studies and the School of Civil Engineering.

Her Fellowship will focus on developing the next generation mathematical models of travel behaviour that can better predict activity and travel decisions.

Dr James Poulter is based in Leeds Institute of Medical Research. His Fellowship – Characterising and targeting Cyclin D stabilisation in development and disease – will focus on the role of the D-type Cyclin family in development and disease. These proteins play an important role in cell cycle progression.

Dr Lucy Stead is a brain cancer computational biologist in the School of Medicine. Her work is focused on trying to understand why glioblastoma (GBM) – the most common and malignant form of adult brain cancer – is able to resist current treatments and grow back, resulting in an average survival of just 14 months post-diagnosis.

Read the full story about the winners.

Pictured is a scene from one of the operas Dr Venn will be studying. Credit: Salzburg Festival, Monika Ritterhaus. April 2020Pictured is a scene from one of the operas Dr Edward Venn will be studying. Credit: Salzburg Festival, Monika Ritterhaus 

Fellowship to study British operas

Dr Edward Venn has been awarded a Leadership Fellowship by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to study the operas of the British composer Thomas Adès.

As part of the Fellowship, Dr Venn will be visiting archives at major international opera houses and working with Opera North to understand better the complex creative decisions that occur when mounting productions.

Dr Venn, Associate Professor in the School of Music, said: “During the past 25 years, Thomas Adès’ operas have maintained a constant presence in opera houses around the world. This is unusual enough for contemporary composers, but Adès’s operas have also been given multiple new productions by some of the leading operatic directors and creative teams.

“The Fellowship provides a wonderful opportunity for me to understand the operas not only as they are written down in scores, but to understand the vital function staging plays in their realisation.

“My research will draw upon recent trends in opera studies, and examine the combination of words, music and staging as realised in performance. Close collaboration with Opera North will enable the Fellowship to be informed by, and reciprocally contribute to, practices within operatic production, and develop new models of audience engagement.”

The award of a Fellowship will enable Dr Williams to explore citizen science approaches to large-scale data collection. April 2020The award of a Fellowship will enable Dr Emily Williams to explore citizen science approaches to large-scale data collection 

Helping explore citizen science

The School of Psychology’s Dr Emily Williams has been awarded a Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF) Fellowship.

It was awarded for her proposed project, Pioneering an immersive citizen science approach to large-scale cohort data collection.

The aim is to complement the next phase of the Born in Bradford (BiB) birth cohort study. This next phase will be where the children move into secondary school, resulting in significantly less time for traditional monitoring of their cognitive and sensorimotor development as part of BiB.

Dr Williams said: “I will be developing a method to accelerate and streamline this data collection process by harnessing virtual reality and adopting a citizen science approach.

“It is my intention that the student participants are actively involved in the development of the research focus, the data collection sessions/lessons are interactive and empowering, and the students develop skills needed to excel in STEM. I will be specifically investigating the development of children’s interceptive timing skill – their ability to hit a moving object.

“I feel extremely proud and excited to have been awarded this funding. It brings together three of my all-time favourite things: timing/time perception (my PhD specialism), increasing children’s STEM aspirations and skills, and citizen science.

“Strategically, it also brings together two major university research initiatives – the Centre for Applied Education Research and the Centre for Immersive Technologies.

Finally, this Fellowship means that I can continue working with amazing groups like Born in Bradford, the ICON and HEADING labs, the Public Engagement Team and Open Research Leeds.”

The funding is for 12 months, intended to start in October 2020, and will be based in the Wolfson Centre for Applied Health Research.

“I’m looking forward to getting stuck in!” she added.


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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