Celebrate Our Staff – September 2021

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

Professor Cath Noakes received the honour earlier this month

Royal Academy Fellow Professor Cath Noakes.

Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowship 

Professor Cath Noakes (School of Civil Engineering) has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. 

She is Professor of Environmental Engineering for Buildings at Leeds and a member of the Government’s scientific advisory group SAGE. 

The award is given to outstanding engineers for their remarkable achievements in business or academia, and honours her research into the way Covid-19 spreads in buildings and enclosed spaces.  

Professor Noakes said: “I am honoured to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.   

“At school, I decided I wanted to be an engineer and to show that the profession can make a real difference and play a pivotal role in improving the world. The pandemic has presented society with enormous challenges. But science and engineering are enabling us to get back to as near as normal a life as possible.  

“I also want this award to send a message to young women interested in engineering: it is a great, exciting and worthwhile career.” 

Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at the University, said: “It is fantastic news that Cath is being honoured by the Royal Academy of Engineering.   

“Her research embodies the philosophy at the heart of the University, to make the world a better place, and her work with SAGE shows engineering and science at its very best, working in the public interest. She is a great role model for students and staff alike.” 

Read the full story 


Celebrating outstanding women in science 

L'oreal-UNESCO Rising Talent Fellowship recipient Dr Qian Wu.Academic Fellow Dr Wu has been recognised for achievements in life sciences  

Dr Qian Wu, Academic Fellow at the The Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, has been awarded a L’Oréal-UNESCO Rising Talent Fellowship for women in science.  

Thierry Cheval, Managing Director of L'Oréal UK and Ireland, said: “The outstanding women we recognise today through the […] programme are exceptional in their respective fields and are shaping the future of more inclusive research.” 

It is one of five L’Oréal-UNESCO Rising Talent Fellowship awarded this year. 

Dr Wu's research aims to understand the molecular mechanism of DNA repair for double-strand breaks, and develop protein tools that enable us to investigate the regulation of repair pathway choice.   

Dr Wu said: “I am extremely honoured […] I want to thank my school and the Astbury Centre for the strong support and mentorship. I will use this fellowship to further enhance my DNA repair research. At the same time, I hope this can inspire many more young people to join the fun of doing science!” 

The programme, a partnership between L'Oréal UK and Ireland, the UK National Commission for UNESCO and the Irish National Commission for UNESCO, with the support of the Royal Society, offers grants to promote, enhance and encourage the contribution of women pursuing their research careers in the UK or Ireland. 

Read the full story 


New Future Leaders Fellows announced 

Dr Viktoria Spaiser, Dr Rene Frank and Dr Timothy Thurston.New Fellows Dr Viktoria Spaiser, Dr Rene Frank and Dr Timothy Thurston 

Three researchers working at the cutting edge of their disciplines have received prestigious national awards.  

Dr Viktoria Spaiser, Dr Tim Thurston and Dr Rene Frank have been awarded Future Leaders Fellowships from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).  

The investment will enable the recipients to more rapidly progress their work tackling global problems by funding essential equipment and paying for researchers’ salaries.  

Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Innovation, said: “We are thrilled that Viktoria, Tim and Rene, three fantastic researchers whose work is already making a significant difference in their fields, have been accepted into the Future Leaders Fellowships programme by UKRI.  

“This substantial support will allow them to deepen their research into key areas of global significance, helping them to further develop their careers and make an even greater positive impact on our world.” 

Dr Spaiser (School of Politics and International Studies) leads a project titled, Understanding Normative Change to Address the Climate Change Emergency. It focuses on how we can establish the societal determination and consensus required to fight climate emergency. 

Dr Frank (Faculty of Biological Sciences) is leading, The architecture of Alzheimer’s disease-associated pathology by cryo-electron tomography, a four-year project which will bridge length-scales from molecules to the whole brain to identify the in-situ structural basis of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Dr Thurston (School of Languages, Cultures and Societies) is carrying out research for The Tibetan Sustainable Heritage Initiative which forwards cultural sustainability as a new way of working collaboratively with communities to document and revitalise cultures and knowledge systems.  

Find out more 


Advising the World Conservation Congress 

Professor Surya Subedi from the School of Law.Professor Subedi provided advice at the congress in September 

Professor Surya Subedi (School of Law) was appointed by the Council of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Legal Procedural Adviser to the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2021.  

Professor Subedi said: "I am honoured by this appointment and it would be a privilege for me to serve such a preeminent global institution working for global good." 

The congress, which took place in Marseille, was inaugurated by President Emmanuel Macron of France and attended by a number of heads of state or government, and Professor Subedi was able to attend the opening ceremony and the full proceedings of the congress.   

The IUCN, also known as the World Conservation Union, is a prestigious international organisation which brings governments and civil society groups together to conserve nature and accelerate the transition to sustainable development. 

Find out more about the congress and its outcomes 


Atmospheric science research award  

Ascent Award recipient Professor Ben Murray.Professor Murray received one of four Ascent Awards 

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) has presented its Ascent Award to Professor of Atmospheric Science, Benjamin Murray, for his research into atmospheric ice nucleation. 

The award recognises four exceptional mid-career scientists annually, for research and leadership in the atmospheric and climate sciences. 

Professor Murray said: “I’m very pleased to be a recipient of the AGU Ascent Award. It demonstrates the importance of research into atmospheric ice nucleation and its influence on clouds and climate change.   

“The award also reflects the hard work and dedication of my students, postdocs and colleagues in Leeds and around the world who have contributed to this body of work.”    

Based in the School of Earth and Environment, Professor Murray leads the Atmospheric Ice Nucleation Group at Leeds. 

He is also President of both the Aerosol Society and the European Aerosol Assembly  


Recognition for hidden research role 

Tanyah Hopes, recipient of the Hidden Research Role awardTayah Hopes has been recognised for her collaboration, knowledge and management 

Tayah Hopes, Senior Research Technician from the Faculty of Biological Sciences, has won the Hidden Role award at the Hidden REF

The Hidden REF is a national competition that recognises every role that makes research possible.  

Tayah said: “I owe a huge thank you to the Aspden group, both for this nomination and for the supportive and collaborative atmosphere they all help to provide.  

“I have had so many opportunities – presenting my work at national conferences, learning new techniques and developing intriguing research projects.”  

Tayah was nominated by her colleagues for her lab management skills, collaborative attitude and application of her knowledge. 

Dr Julie Aspden, leader of the Aspden group, said: “The fact that Tayah was nominated by the group, all of whom contributed to writing her nomination, shows how much her work is valued by the team.  

“She is a fantastic lab manager, and contributes to every project either experimentally or intellectually, much of the time both.  

“Since Tayah joined my group in 2016, it has been great to see her develop as a scientist and gain confidence. Personally, I love working with Tayah. Her support has been invaluable, especially when I was on maternity leave.” 


Faculty recognised for commitment to gender equality 

The Athena Swan Silver Award symol – a silver curve on a white background.The Athena Swan Charter is a framework used across the globe for gender equality within higher education and research 

The Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences has received the prestigious Athena SWAN Silver Award. 

The award is granted by the Equality Challenge Unit, in recognition of a strong and continued commitment to gender equality. 

Leeds’ former Faculty of Engineering was given the award in 2019. This new award is for the faculty’s newer iteration, which also includes schools that were previously part of Mathematics and Physical Sciences. 

Executive Dean, Professor Nora De Leeuw, said: “In the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, we believe that our diverse community is fundamental to the achievement of excellence.  

“We promote a culture of mutual respect where everybody feels welcome and are equally supported to achieve their full potential.” 

The faculty’s aim of providing an inclusive working and learning environment is underpinned by five priorities: staff recruitment, career development, engagement and support, student diversity, and inclusive culture. 

With a dedicated Athena SWAN and Equality and Inclusion committee, the faculty is continuously working on expanding and broadening their action plan.  

Faculty Equality and Inclusion lead, Professor Vania Dimitrova, said: “I am pleased to see the wide support for our holistic equality, diversity and inclusion approach which underpins our inclusive culture across the faculty.” 

Read more about the Athena SWAN award 


Success for Michael Beverley Innovation Fellows 

Michael Beverley at an event in Nexus.The Fellows recently celebrated their success and met Michael Beverley, Leeds alumnus and donor to the programme, at an event in NEXUS  

Michael Beverley Innovation Fellow Dr Olivia Pabois (School of Food Science and Nutrition) has been awarded the Nestlé Young Scientist Award. 

She received the award for a presentation on aqueous lubrication and development of saliva substitute at the Food Oral Processing 2021 conference.  

The award – which recognises early career researchers – highlights excellent contributions to food science and engineering, with a demonstrated potential for translation into innovative products and services in the food industry. 

Olivia said: “I am absolutely exhilarated and grateful to be the recipient of Nestlé Young Scientist Award.  

“I feel so proud and honoured to see both my work and our multi-application lubricant (which we have recently developed as part of our European Research Council proof-of-concept funded AquaLub project) recognised.  

“This prize will certainly be an additional, excellent springboard for the commercialisation of a stand-out, value-added health/personal care and food product.”  

Olivia is part of the first cohort of Michael Beverley Innovation Fellows, and is not the only one finding success. 

Dr Vinton Cheung (School of Medicine) has taken on a 12-month position at the University of Virginia to investigate the use of focused ultrasound to enhance the immune response to treat brain metastases.  

Vinton said: “The Michael Beverley Innovation Fellowship has been very useful in providing me with the confidence to take the risk of approaching the US to take me on even though I had never done this type of work before.” 

Dr Aiqin Liu (School of Mechanical Engineering) has also seen success, receiving the UKRI Healthy Ageing Catalyst Award 2021 for development of an intelligent robotic knee device to support and monitor rehabilitation therapy for the ageing population with osteoarthritis – exactly what her MBIF project focused on.   

She said: “I am deeply pleased and honoured to receive this prestigious award, announced at the National Academy of Medicine’s Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge Summit”. 

The Innovation Fellowship programme provides an introduction to all aspects of commercialisation of research and business engagement, as well as mentors through a network of business experts, academics and Leeds Alumni. 

The team are currently seeking academic mentors to join the mentoring network and provide guidance and support for the second cohort of Michael Beverley Innovation Fellows. Contact Jo Howorth, Michael Beverley Fellowship Lead, for details.   


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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