Celebrate Our Staff – May 2021

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

Professor Dame Jane Francis and Gregory Houseman, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics

A composite image of profile pictures of Professor Dame Jane Francis and Emeritus Professor Gregory Houseman. April 2021

Royal Society Fellowship honours

Two prominent Leeds figures have been elected as Fellows of the prestigious Royal Society.

Our Chancellor, Professor Dame Jane Francis, has been commended for her significant contributions to knowledge of the climate history of polar regions.

Joining her is Gregory Houseman, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics, who is acknowledged for his pioneering work leading our understanding of the deformation of Earth’s continental crust and lithosphere.

Dame Jane worked at Leeds from 1991 to 2013, the last five as Dean of the Faculty of Environment. She became Director of the British Antarctic Survey in 2013 and was appointed Chancellor at Leeds in 2018.

She said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have been elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society.

“It’s an honour to have my research and support of science recognised in this way, and I’d like to thank all my colleagues, past and present, without whom this would not have been possible.”

Professor Houseman joined Leeds in 2001, where he taught in the School of Earth and Environment. 

He became Emeritus Professor in October 2019.

He said: “I’m very happy that the Royal Society has recognised our research achievements at Leeds, within the Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics and the COMET consortium (Centre for the Observation and Modelling of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tectonics). 

“I’ve been fortunate to work with many excellent scientists over the years, using computer model calculations, seismic imaging and satellite geodesy to understand where, why and how the continents are deforming and what that means for earthquake risk in many parts of the world.”

Read the full story

New Director of Knowledge Exchange and Impact

Steph Morris, Director of Knowledge Exchange and Impact. May 2021.New Director of Knowledge Exchange and Impact, Steph Morris

Steph Morris has been appointed as the new Director of Knowledge Exchange and Impact.

She will be instrumental in the development and implementation of a knowledge exchange strategy and delivery plan to maximise the impact of our portfolio of underpinning research.

Steph said: “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to play a leading role in an exciting area of growing importance at Leeds.

“Knowledge exchange and impact are key to the delivery of the University Strategy, and I intend to build on our excellent achievements to date to help our research community make a positive difference in the world.”

She joined the University in October 2019 as Head of Innovation Development, since when she has worked with colleagues across the University to drive engagement with innovation activities, including knowledge transfer partnerships and translational research.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, Professor Nick Plant, said: “I’m very happy to announce this new role, which is an important statement of the University’s commitment to building and developing our successful knowledge exchange and impact activities, in line with the new University Strategy.

“Steph is the perfect person for this position, and her knowledge, passion and established networks will help her to deliver our ambitions – I look forward to working with Steph in making our shared vision a reality.”

Find out more

New Head of School

Professor Louise Ellison, Head of the School of Law.Professor Louise Ellison took over from Interim Head of School, Professor Loughrey

Professor Louise Ellison began the role as new Head of the School of Law on Monday 3 May.

Following Professor Alastair Mullis moving to the role of Interim Executive Dean for the Faculty of Social Sciences in January 2020, the School of Law was successfully led by Interim Head of School, Professor Joan Loughrey. 

Professor Ellison said: “I feel honoured to have the opportunity to serve as Head of the School of Law.

“With a proud history, we are one of the leading law schools in the UK. I am not new to the School, so I know I have the good fortune of working alongside highly talented and committed colleagues, and in partnership with a student body that never fails to impress.  

“I would like to pay tribute to my predecessors, Professors Alastair Mullis and Joan Loughrey. The School of Law has enjoyed many successes under their leadership, although both would be the first to say that everything the school has accomplished in recent years has been a team effort.

“Building on this foundation, I am excited about the future of our school and what we will achieve together as a community.”

Professor Ellison graduated from the University of Leeds with LLB Honours in 1993 and was awarded her PhD from Leeds in 1997.

She joined the School of Law as an Associate Professor from the University of Manchester in 2003, having also previously taught at the University of Reading. She was one of the first three women to be appointed internally to professor, along with Joan Loughrey and Anthea Hucklesby, in 2012. 

Professor Ellison has held a number of leadership roles in the school, including Director of the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies (2014-19) and Director of Research and Innovation (2010-2013 and 2019-21). 

Read more

Royal College Vice-President announced 

Dr Jonathan Darling, Royal College Vice-President.The RCPCH has welcomed Dr Jonathan Darling as one of its seven senior officers

Dr Jonathan Darling has been elected to the role of Vice-President for Education and Professional Development at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).

Dr Darling is Clinical Associate Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health and Medical Education in the Leeds Institute of Medical Education, and Director for Student Support in the School of Medicine.

He’s also a consultant general paediatrician in Leeds Children’s Hospital at the LGI and Designated Doctor for Safeguarding Children in Leeds.

Dr Darling said: “I felt excited and delighted when I got the news, but also somewhat nervous!

“I feel really honoured to have this opportunity and am very grateful for the support I have received.

“I think it’s beneficial to the School of Medicine and the University to have staff involved in this way with the Royal Colleges – to play our part in the national systems that help support the delivery of high-quality medical care, and to help the college be grounded in the reality and challenges of delivery of paediatric education and care across the current NHS and University systems.”

The RCPCH has more than 20,000 members and plays a major role in postgraduate medical education, professional standards, research and policy, including advocacy for child health.

Dr Darling aims help the college to continue to build a thriving specialty and to advocate for better child health.

He added: “I’m looking forward to helping the college achieve these goals through the vital areas of education and professional development.

“We have some big challenges as we emerge from lockdown, but those also bring opportunities.”

New journal editorship in POLIS 

The welcome sign at the entrance to the School of Politics and International Studies.The team from POLIS will be taking over editorship in August

A team within the School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) has successfully been awarded the editorship of a leading journal.

The British Journal of Politics and International Relations (BJPIR) is a leading UK Politics journal and will be moving from the University of Edinburgh to Leeds in August.

The team will consist of five editors (Drs Emma-Louise Anderson, Derek Edvayne, Richard Hayton, Jack Holland and Victoria Honeyman) and two deputy editors (Professors Jocelyn Evans and Cristina Leston Bandeira).

They will be supported by nine associate editors. 

Dr Honeyman said: “We are delighted to welcome the British Journal of Politics and International Relations to POLIS.

“By using our expertise in the politics of global challenges, and introducing measures which will encourage submissions from a wider range of academics across the world and across the discipline, we intend to build on the journal’s reputation for excellence and make it the first choice for academics in our diverse field.”

PSA Vice-Chair and Publications Lead, Professor Claire Dunlop, added: “We are excited by the Leeds team’s intellectual vision for the journal and deep commitment to diversity in the academy.

“We know BJPIR will be in safe hands and will continue to go from strength to strength. We also extend huge thanks to the Edinburgh team, led by Alan Convery, for the massive contribution it has made to our community and for carrying on the work started by Alan and the late John Peterson.”

Gödel Prize 2021 winner

Professor Martin Dyer in his home office.Professor Martin Dyer has been recognised for his paper

Professor Martin Dyer has won the Gödel Prize 2021 for outstanding papers in the area of theoretical computer science.

The award was given for ‘An Effective Dichotomy for the Counting Constraint Satisfaction Problem’, of which Professor Dyer was the lead author.

The paper – one of three winners for 2021 – is part of a larger body of work on the classification of counting complexity of Constraint Satisfaction Problems (CSPs) and prove an all-encompassing Complexity Dichotomy Theorem for counting CSP-type problems that are expressible as a partition function.

Professor Dyer said: “It’s a great honour to have a paper named among the winners of this year’s Gödel Prize.

“Thank you to my colleagues, particularly my co-author, Dr David Richerby, for their help and support.”

The award is made annually, with the presentation taking place alternately at the International Colloquium on Automata, Languages and Programming (ICALP) and ACM Symposium on the Theory of Computing (STOC).

This year the award will be presented at STOC.

Professor Dyer graduated from Leeds in 1967. He then went on to obtain his MSc from Imperial College London in 1968 and his PhD from Leeds in 1979.

He’s currently part of the Algorithms and Complexity Research Theme in the School of Computing, with research interests in algorithms and computing theory – in particular, randomised algorithms, computational complexity and algorithms for geometric problems.

He’s also interested in parallel computing and problems in computational biology.

Read more

Charles Chadwick Prize Medal honour

Dr Michael Drozd, winner of the 2021 Charles Chadwick Prize Medal.This year’s Chadwick Prize Medal was award to Dr Michael Drozd

Dr Michael Drozd has received the Charles Chadwick Prize Medal in recognition for an outstanding research presentation delivered to the Leeds Medico-Chirurgical Society, which explores non-communicable disease (NCD), sociodemographic factors and infection death.

NCDs have been highlighted as important risk factors for covid-19 mortality. However, insufficient data exists on the wider context of infectious diseases in people with NCDs.

Dr Drozd’s work aimed to investigate the association between NCDs and the risk of death from any infection in 500,000 people before the covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “I’m delighted to be the recipient of this award.

“It recognises the portfolio of research we’re conducting in Leeds to understand why some patients with cardiometabolic disease are at particularly high risk of dying from an infection. This will be especially important in the post-covid-19 era.

“It’s a collaborative team effort and I’m very grateful to all that have contributed.”

This prize-winning work has recently been published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases and has also been discussed in the government’s recent Health Inequalities Report.

Dr Drozd is a Clinical Research Fellow in Dr Richard Cubbon’s (School of Medicine) group.

Presidential appointment

Professor Jason Halford is the new Head for the School of Psychology. April 2020The EASO has appointed Professor Jason Halford to a senior role

Professor Jason Halford has become president of the European Association for the Study on Obesity (EASO).

Established in 1986, EASO is the voice of obesity science, medicine and community in Europe, working actively to promote science and improve treatment, advocate for policy change and challenge stigma.  

Professor Halford said: “I look forward to the next three years and am honoured to lead EASO.”

During his presidency, he aims to emphasise a personalised approach to treatment and recognise the lived experience of patients, and to continue to improve the food environment.

On the treatment side, work is needed to ensure people living with obesity seek and gain help far sooner in their struggle with weight, and that healthcare professionals better understand the full implications of obesity as a disease.

He will continue EASO’s push on marketing, advertising, nutritional labelling, reformulation and tax, with the aim of making sure the healthy and sustainable option is the default and those options are available, attractive and affordable.

The covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the mental health issues associated with living with obesity. Before the pandemic, issues of depression and anxiety where widely recognised, but various factors in recent months have added additional stresses to the lives of people living with obesity. Professor Halford will be developing a Psychology, Behaviour and Mental Health group with EASO to guide education, research and advocacy in this area.

He also hopes to support local services in Leeds for adults and children to become EASO collaborating centres for obesity management.

Lobbying to maintain digital apprenticeship funding

Christina Lovelock standing in a garden.Christina Lovelock was part of a group that has been able to secure ministerial support for digital apprenticeships

Christina Lovelock has been contributing at a national level – along with the Institute for Apprentices and Technical Education – to work defining and reviewing digital apprenticeship standards.

Such schemes are widely regarded, both within the University and nationally, as a great way to address the digital skills gap. But they were, until recently, at serious threat of having funding reduced.

The details of the schemes are defined by employer groups, and reviewed regularly to ensure they remain relevant to the role and job market.

Christina works alongside chairs from employers including Microsoft, IBM, the Ministry of Defence and Qinetiq to conduct these reviews.

This group was also able to successfully lobby the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills), Gillian Keegan, and gain her support to maintain the current funding for all the digital apprenticeship standards.

Christina said: “By collaborating with my fellow chairs from a wide range of organisations, we were able to ensure current funding levels are maintained.

“It will help to protect the quality of apprenticeship training participants receive, and invests in digital professionals of the future.”

Dave Golding, Head of Architecture and Governance in IT Services, added: “This is a major achievement.

“It is great to see Leeds playing a sector-leading role in this area, working in partnership with other digital employers.”

Read more about the first six apprenticeships launching as a result of the review Christina chaired.

Learned Society of Wales Fellows elected

Professors Paul Emery and Rob Knipe.Professors Paul Emery and Rob Knipe have been recognized by the Learned Society of Wales

Professors Paul Emery and Robert Knipe were recently named as new Fellows of the Learned Society of Wales (LSW).

The honour aims to highlight Welsh research, universities and intellectual life, with election to the Fellowship based on a ballot of existing Fellows.

Professor Emery said: “As a Welshman, who spent all his schooldays in Cardiff, I’m very proud to have been recognised by the LSW, particularly as it recognises excellence in a diverse range of areas.”

Professor Knipe added: “It is a privilege and honour to have been elected.

“I’m looking forward to working with the LSW and contributing to increased public awareness of the links between the geosciences, landscapes, culture and history in Wales, and by helping to promote the Energy Transition.”

They were named as part of an intake of 45 academics, researchers and professionals, with specialisms ranging from nanotechnology to jazz.

The list included academics from higher education institutions, both in the UK and abroad, as well as individuals who play a significant role in Welsh public life.

The Society’s President, Professor Hywel Thomas, said: “I’m delighted to welcome our new Fellows to the Learned Society of Wales.

“This past, extraordinary year has shown the value of world-class research. There is a thirst for knowledge and expertise, in all fields, as we try to recover from the challenges of the pandemic.

“Our Fellows are at the forefront of that knowledge and expertise.”

The new Fellows were formally admitted during the LSW’s AGM on Wednesday 19 May.

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Paper wins Sanders Prize in Metaethics 

Graham Bex-Priestley in the Brotherton Library.Graham Bex-Priestley’s paper has received a prize from the Marc Sanders Foundation

Graham Bex-Priestley’s paper ‘Expressivists Should be Reductive Naturalists’ has won the Sanders Prize in Metaethics.

His work received first place commendations and will be published in Oxford Studies in Metaethics.

The Sanders Prize in Metaethics is a biennial essay competition, which is open to scholars within 15 years of receiving a PhD, or students who are currently enrolled in a graduate programme.

Mr Bex-Priestley said: “I’m elated! It’s a huge honour to have my essay chosen for this prize and I’m very excited to see it published in such a wonderful series.

“I’m incredibly grateful to all the many people who helped me along the way.”

The Marc Sanders Foundation, which awards the prize, promotes the use of philosophy to help the world approach larger personal and societal issues.

Find out more about the prize, and read an abstract of Mr Bex-Priestley’s winning paper, on the Marc Sanders Foundation website.

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Nominations open | Global Food and Environment Institute Food and Agriculture Awards

A mountainous landscape. Credit: Paul VincentThe first GFEI Food and Agriculture Awards will be held later this year  

Nominations open on Monday 31 May for the first Global Food and Environment Institute (GFEI) Food and Agriculture Awards.

Open to both staff and students, whose research or studies are related to food and agriculture, the awards aim to highlight work towards a sustainable, socially-just food system.

Nominations close on Friday 9 July and winners will be announced as part of the GFEI symposium on Wednesday 22 September.

Get in touch!

We know there are lots of great things happening to support the work of the University – and we want to hear about them! 

Please follow the staff Twitter account to see the latest updates and copy in our @UniLeedsStaff handle when posting success stories, so we can share them with colleagues. 

You can also contact Internal Communications directly 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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