Celebrate Our Staff – November 2021

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

Dr Pierse’s new book has been recognised with an award

A profile picture of Dr Alison Peirse. Uploaded April 2021.

National Fantasy Awards accolade

Dr Alison Peirse (School of Media and Communication) won the Best Non-Fiction category of the British Fantasy Awards 2021 for her book ‘Women Make Horror’.

Dr Peirse said: “This award means a lot to me.

“While my work is grounded in scholarly thinking and research, I always strive to make it accessible and engaging for a wider audience, and this award suggests that my approach is working. I want to continue developing my career with this kind of public engagement and access in mind.”

Women Make Horror explores narrative and experimental cinema, along with short, anthology and feature filmmaking.

It also offers case studies of North American, Latin American, European, East Asian, and Australian filmmakers, films and festivals. 

The overall aim of the book is to transform how we think about women filmmakers and genre.

Dr Peirse said: “When women can see their likeness, in power, and know that there’s a history of them doing this kind of work, it emboldens them to not only curate and write about women-made horror films, but to also step up and make films themselves.”

This is the second award for the book, after it won the BAFTSS 2021 Best Edited Collection. It was also runner-up for Book of the Year at the 2020 Rondo Awards and a finalist for Superior Achievement in Non–Fiction at the 2020 Bram Stoker Awards.

The work stems from her academic research in genre film and television, with a particular interest in exploring women’s creative contributions to genre, as well as story development and creative process within media industries. 

Cleaning Services celebrate achievements

Theresa Fahy (left) cutting hair for charity, and the Cleaning Services team in the Leeds Dental Institute.Cleaning Services have had lots to celebrate of late

Colleagues from Cleaning Services have been celebrating some amazing achievements in recent weeks.

Theresa Fahy, Operations Team Leader, raised more than £900 for Cancer Research for Stand Up to Cancer Day.

This is a cause very close to Theresa’s heart, as she sadly lost her mother to cancer 11 years ago, and she’s always wanted to do something to raise money for the cause.

In order to raise her initial target of £200, Theresa agreed to stay standing for 16 hours, receiving lots of encouragement from colleagues across Cleaning Services and the wider Facilities Directorate.

As more donations flooded in, her colleague, Jonathan White, Assistant Team Leader, volunteered to let Theresa shave his head if she reached a target of £450.

Jonathan sadly lost his father to cancer, so was keen to help Theresa’s fundraising – even at the cost of his lovely locks!

In the end, Theresa managed to raise an impressive £906.

The Cleaning Services team in the Leeds Dental Institute has also been awarded a GR8X (Greatix) award in recognition of its efforts to go the extra mile.

The award is given to colleagues to highlight ‘incidents of excellence’ in their work.

Jill Roberts, Head of Cleaning Services, said: “I’m so proud of these recent achievements.

“We have such a positive team in Cleaning Services, and after such a tricky time where everyone has worked harder than ever, it’s great to see that being recognised and to see team members like Theresa and Jonathan still wanting to put the effort in to raise money for charity.

“Congratulations to the Leeds Dental Institute Cleaning Services team, and to Theresa and Jonathan, for their great efforts. And thank you to everyone who generously contributed.”

Leading scientist receives special award

Professor Sheena Radford outside Windsor Castle with her OBE and her husband.Professor Sheena Radford attending the official ceremony with her husband, Professor Alan Berry (Faculty of Biological Sciences)

Professor Sheena Radford has received an OBE for her services to molecular biology.

The award was originally announced in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in October 2020, along with accolades for two other leading academic researchers from Leeds, two alumni and a former Pro-Chancellor. But the ceremony was postponed until last month due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Professor Radford said: “I’m absolutely delighted to receive the honour for my contributions to molecular biology.

“It was wonderful to receive the award that represents the brilliant work of my research team, past and present, my colleagues in FBS and the Astbury Centre at Leeds.

“The support and good wishes I received from so many across the globe has been both humbling and inspiring for what we can achieve into the future in the exciting and important research field of protein folding and misfolding in health and disease.”

As Director of the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, Professor Radford has led a large group of researchers investigating the complex molecular basis of life.

Research undertaken in the centre is fundamental to the big challenges facing society, including understanding the diseases associated with ageing, improving cancer therapies and tackling antimicrobial resistance.

Professor’s inclusion and diversity role

Professor Helen Gleeson standing on a balcony on campus.Cavendish Professor of Physics, Helen Gleeson

Professor Helen Gleeson has been appointed by the Institute of Physics – the professional and learned body for physicists – to provide them with ‘advice and challenge’ on inclusion and diversity.

She entered the profession in the 1980s, at a time when the overwhelming majority of physicists were men and attitudes prevailed that women were not cut out for ‘hard science’.

Throughout her career, she has worked to improve equality and diversity.

Professor Gleeson said: “There has been a strong focus on gender over the past 15-20 years in STEM subjects, including physics, as seen with the Athena Swan awards. For example, the proportion of female physics undergraduates has increased nationally from around 15% in the early 2000s to currently around 23%.

“However, the under-representation of some minority groups is a significant issue that hasn’t changed since the early 2000s. Nationally, there are only about 2% black and about 8% Asian descent physics undergraduates.

“Indeed, one of the recent returns from the Higher Education Statistics Agency showed that approximately 83% of physics undergraduates were white, compared with 75% in other subjects.

“The Institute of Physics is keen to help to change this and I’ll be working with them to try to make a difference.”

Progress has been made on reducing gender inequality during the past two decades, but very little has changed in terms of the under-representation of some minority ethnic groups.

Faced with a skills shortage, the Institute of Physics recognises it needs to redress this imbalance, particularly if physics is to play a full role in developing next-generation technologies that will be required to overcome climate change and other global challenges.

Read the full story

Natural England Scientific Advisory Committee appointment

Julia Martin-Ortega sits in front of the window in an office.Professor Julia Martin-Ortega has received a Natural England appointment

Professor Julia Martin-Ortega has been appointed a member of the Social Science Expert Panel (SSEP) of the Natural England Scientific Advisory Committee.

SSEP provides high-quality, independent social science advice, challenge and review to Natural England. It also works to strengthen its relationship with the wider social science community. 

Professor Martin-Ortega said: “Through this role in SSEP, I hope I can fulfil my aspiration of making use of my knowledge, research abilities and collaborative attributes to make a positive impact in the way in which society enjoys and respects the planet.”

The expert panel is expected to advise the Natural England Board on social science aspects of its science, evidence and evaluation strategy. It also challenges the rationale and methods for proposed studies and champions Natural England’s social science work.

Professor Martin-Ortega is Associate Director of water@leeds – one of the largest interdisciplinary centres for water research in any university in the world. 

She’s also member of the Steering Committee of the Leeds Social Sciences Institute (LSSI) and the Steering Committee of the Scottish Government’s Centre for Expertise in Waters, as well as a member of the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council Peer Review College.

Read the full story

Enterprise Ambassador programme the ‘best of the best’

Achille Traore (centre) mentors two students in the Leeds University Business School.Enterprise Ambassadors like Achille Traore (centre) gave their time to support the students

Leeds University Business School’s (LUBS) Enterprise Ambassador initiative has been recognised as an excellent example of student enterprise support by the Small Business Charter.

LUBS was recently awarded the Small Business Charter accreditation, a UK award that celebrates the role business schools play in supporting small businesses and student entrepreneurship.

The award also acknowledges particular specialisms that can be considered examples of excellence relative to other UK business schools – The Enterprise Ambassador initiative is one of two specialisms that has been awarded exemplar status.

The initiative, led by the Business School’s Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies (CEES), is a dedicated, student-facing, entrepreneurs-in-residence programme.

These schemes see successful small business founders and owners give up their time to support teaching and mentoring of students. The exemplar status recognises the Leeds programme as being the ‘best of the best in the UK’.

Dr Richard Tunstall, Academic Director of Enterprise at Leeds, said: “The breadth and depth of the relationship between the ambassadors and the University is exemplary; they’re high-profile business leaders in their own right, yet they’re active in our taught programmes, mentor students and influence our student enterprise strategy.”

Find out more

Sustainable wind industry research recognised

Dr Anne Velenturf (second from right) receiving the Poul La Cour award at an event.The award was received by Dr Anne Velenturf

Dr Anne Velenturf has received the Poul La Cour Award 2021 for her research on integrating circular economy approaches into the management of renewables infrastructure through their lifecycle.

Dr Velenturf’s work around using a circular economy framework for wind energy – where remanufacturing and reuse of components is more widely employed – has been recognised as an important step towards creating more sustainable wind farms. 

She said: “It’s such an honour to receive this award. I was so surprised.

“I’m hugely grateful to those who nominated me and the awarding panel. Thank you very much!

“I have very much enjoyed working with the wind industry since 2017 and am amazed about the speed at which circular economy approaches are starting to be picked up. For the sustainable upscaling of wind energy infrastructure, it’s essential to consider circular economy proactively from the design stage onwards.”

The award, presented by WindEurope and the Poul la Cour Foundation, has only been granted 15 times since 1992.

It honours outstanding achievements in the wind industry and is named after Poul La Cour – a Danish physicist, meteorologist, inventor and folk high school teacher. Today, La Cour is especially recognised for his early work on wind power.

Read the full story

Celebrating Early Career Lectureship

Professor Susan Bernal Lopez in the lab. May 2020.Professor Bernal Lopez’s lecture is titled ‘Cementing a Low-Carbon Future Infrastructure’

Susan Bernal Lopez – Professor of Structural Materials in the School of Civil Engineering – has been recognised by the Kavli Foundation and the Materials Research Society with an Early Career Lectureship.

The Materials Science Lectureship focuses on Professor Lopez’s outstanding work in the field of low-carbon future infrastructure.

Professor Lopez said: “I feel very honoured to count myself among the talented people that received this award before me.

“I think the past 20 months have been challenging for all of us in different ways, and I certainly welcome this recognition of my contributions, and those of all the people that have worked and collaborated with me over the years.”

Professor Lopez highlighted that it isn’t always easy to demonstrate the industrial importance of fundamental materials science. She said: “This award recognises the importance of fundamental research in materials we interact with on a daily basis, and that in many instances we take for granted.”

In the lecture, Professor Lopez plans to focus on how the climate emergency impacts upon our built environment.

She added: “I want to show how using advanced techniques to understand the fundamentals of novel cement and concrete enables us to create and design bespoke materials that can fulfil the high demands in sustainability, serviceability and longevity of cement and concrete for future infrastructure development.

“Hopefully, the audience will take away my messages and think that cement and concrete are amazing and interesting materials.”

Honorary Fellowship award

Professor John Blundell addressing an audience at a conference.Professor John Blundell, from the School of Psychology

Professor John Blundell has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship from The Nutrition Society.

The organisation periodically recognises individuals who’ve made significant and outstanding contributions to the advancement of the study of the science of nutrition.

An Honorary Fellowship is the highest honour they can give an individual.

Together with colleagues, Professor Blundell is investigating the control of human appetite, demonstrating that the drive to eat is determined by the lean tissues of the body and the metabolic activity generated.

This view is causing people to revise the way they think about the control of body weight, obesity and the problem of weight regain after loss.

Of the Honorary Fellowship, he said: “I’m very honoured by this award since my fundamental training is not in nutrition.

“This is particularly so when I see the great names in nutrition who are past presidents and fellows of the society. It’s a great compliment to be listed among them.”

Professor Blundell was also a member of the UK government’s Department of Science and Innovation Foresight Expert Group (2005-2008), which developed the concept of the Obesities Systems Map as the basis for the Change 4 Life Programme.

He was a member of the Department of Health Expert Group on Social Marketing approach to childhood obesity, and has been an expert consultant for the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). He has also served on a number of Scientific Obesity Advisory Boards.

His Honorary Fellowship includes life membership of The Nutrition Society.

Technician’s Papin Prize honour

Laura Wilkinson Hewitt stands with her award in front of a green curtain.Laura Wilkinson Hewitt won her category, and colleagues from the School of Physics and Astronomy were also shortlisted

Laura Wilkinson Hewitt – a technician from the Protein Production Facility – received a Papin Prize at the Higher Education Technicians Summit (HETS).

The Core Research Facility category, in which she was a winner, honours a member of technical staff in a central research facility or platform who has provided exceptional skills or expertise.

She said: “I was delighted to win the award, though it was very unexpected.

“I’ve worked really hard to improve the sustainability of our lab, as well as make it a supportive and comfortable environment for staff and students to learn and work in, so it feels great to have that hard work recognised.

“I couldn’t do any of it without my manager, Dr Brian Jackson. He’s been a fantastic mentor during the past five years and is always extremely supportive of everything I do, so a huge thank you to him for all his help (and for nominating me!).

“We also had a team of teaching technicians in the School of Physics and Astronomy – Angela Beddows, Yasir Khan, and Peter Hine – shortlisted for a prize, so they definitely deserve a big congratulations, too!”

Held biennially, HETS is the UK’s only event dedicated to celebrating the success and achievements of technical staff.

Papin Prizes are named after Denis Papin, a 17th century technician who worked with Robert Boyle. He invented the steam digester and was one of the first technicians to publish in his own name.

A total of 13 Papin Prizes were presented this year across a range of categories.

Find out more

Legal history prize

A profile image of Dr Priyasha Saksena in front of some foliage.Sutherland Prize winner Dr Priyasha Saksena

Dr Priyasha Saksena (School of Law) has won the American Society for Legal History’s Sutherland Prize for best article on the legal history of Britain and/or the British Empire.

It was announced at the society’s 2021 annual meeting, along with other prizes, honours and fellowships.

Dr Saksena received the honour for ‘Jousting Over Jurisdiction: Sovereignty and International Law in Late Nineteenth-Century South Asia’ – an article published in the May 2020 edition of the Law and History Review.

Dr Saksena said: “I’m very pleased and honoured to have been awarded the Sutherland Prize by the American Society for Legal History.

“It’s excellent to see the recognition of South Asian legal history and the prize highlights its continued significance for understanding imperial histories, as well as our contemporary international order.”

Her citation for the prize praises the piece as an “erudite, thoughtful and well-written article” that offered a reevaluation of the role of international law – and debates over the nature of sovereignty itself – in controversies over the legal status of princely states, an area run by a local ruler under the British Raj, in post-1858 colonial India.

The Sutherland Prize was this year awarded jointly to Dr Saksena and Dr Sonia Tycko, from the University of Oxford.

Read the full story

Honour for outstanding geodynamics researcher

A profile image of Tim Craig in front of a plain white background.The European Geosciences Union has recognised Dr Craig

Dr Timothy Craig – Royal Society University Research Fellow in the School of Earth and Environment – has been recognised for his outstanding contributions to the field of geodynamics.

Awarded by the European Geosciences Union (EGU), Dr Craig was given the 2022 Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award for the Geodynamics division.

Dr Craig joined the University in 2015, specialising in intraplate earthquakes and tectonics. Since then, he has excelled by winning other prizes, including the Winton Award (Geophysics) for Early Career Progression from the Royal Astronomical Society in 2019.

Dr Craig said: “It’s an honour to receive an Early Career award from the European Geosciences Union.

“I’m very grateful to all the excellent people I’ve had the privilege of working with during my research career – science is, after all, predominantly a team effort. My early-career progression has been greatly helped by a series of mentors, who knew both when to help and when to step back, and I’m forever thankful for that.

“I would also like to thank both the Royal Society and the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, whose funding and support has made the research independence behind this award possible.”

Read the EGU’s announcement

Positive feedback for Alumni Step Challenge

Two people ducking out of the way of a splashing wave at the sea front.Alumni were encouraged to take photos on their travels

The team behind the Alumni Step Challenge has once again been praised for its efforts in putting the community-focused activity together.

Colleagues from Get Out, Get Active and the Alumni and Development (now Advancement) teams collaborated on a virtual step challenge that saw 72 alumni from 24 different countries take part.

Collectively, they managed to take more than seven million steps and travelled just under 3,000 miles – the distance from Leeds to Maine in the US – in the space of just one week.

Kate Petty, Physical Activity and Wellbeing Manager, said: “This is the second virtual step challenge that Get Out, Get Active has hosted in collaboration with the alumni team and it has proved to be a real success yet again.

“It was lovely seeing alumni from around the world connect with one another and share stories about their time studying at the University, while encouraging one another to get active.

“Those taking part were also encouraged to share photos throughout the challenge and there was a great array of pictures from all corners of the globe.”

Feedback on the challenge has been positive, with a number of participants praising the organisational efforts of the team.

Other alumni who took part also noted how it offered them a valuable opportunity to connect with the wider alumni community, get some exercise and explore the world through other participants’ photographs.

Highly cited researchers

A view across some of the rooftops of buildings on campus, looking towards the Parkinson Building.Several academics from Leeds have once again been noted for their contributions to research

Eight colleagues at Leeds have been recognised by Clarivate in its list of Highly Cited Researchers 2021.

Those making the list are:

  • Professor Eric Dickinson
  • Professor Paul Emery       
  • Dr Alexander Ford  
  • Professor William Kunin    
  • Professor Oliver Phillips    
  • Professor Dominick Spracklen                         
  • Professor Piers Forster; and        
  • Professor Mark Wilcox.

Statistics used in compiling the list come from the Web of Science – a website that provides subscription-based access to multiple databases supplying comprehensive citation data for many different academic disciplines.

Web of Science provides data, analytics and workflow tools to the research community, across higher education, governments and research-intensive corporations around the world.

The list aims to highlight researchers who “have demonstrated significant influence through publication of multiple highly cited papers during the past decade”.

This year’s list took into account papers published between 2010 and 2020.

Researchers featuring in the list had multiple highly-cited papers that ranked in the top 1% by citations for a particular field and year, or across multiple fields.

Of the eight researchers listed from Leeds, five were highlighted as working across multiple fields.

See the full list

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.

December break

Please note that the next Celebrate Our Staff will be published at the end of January. Thank you for reading and we’ll see you in the new year!

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