Celebrate Our Staff – January 2022

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

Professor Melvin Hoare’s work in Africa has been recognised

Presentation slide announcing that Professor Melvin Hoare has received the Royal Astronomical Society's Education Award for higher Education. On the right of the image, Professor Hoare stands in front of a radar dish.

Featured this month:

Royal Astronomical Society recognition

Professor Melvin Hoare (School of Physics and Astronomy) has received the Royal Astronomical Society’s Education Award for Higher Education.

The honour recognises his work on the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA) project, which aims to train a new generation of radio astronomers across sub-Saharan Africa.

Professor Hoare said: “It’s an honour that the Royal Astronomical Society has recognised the work of the DARA project that I have led during the past six years.

“This could only have been achieved with the team of collaborators from the UK and South Africa, and in particular our partner institutions in eight African countries where we’ve been training.

“It has been a real pleasure seeing the excitement of the young people as they engage with the exciting world of modern astrophysics for the first time.”

The project has given students the opportunity to learn from, and work with, experts in radio astronomy, data reduction and analysis.

More than 300 graduates and more than 30 postgraduate students have benefitted from being involved in the project during the past six years.

Read the full story

New Year Honours

New Year Honours 2022. January 2022

New Year Honours have been announced for Ed Anderson and Tim Smith

Two members of the governing body at Leeds have been awarded CBEs in the New Year Honours list.

Ed Anderson and Tim Smith have each been named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in recognition of their wide-ranging achievements and service at international, national and regional levels.

A Deputy Pro-Chancellor at Leeds, Ed has been a member of the University’s Council since 2007 and chairs the Audit and Risk Committee.

His CBE is awarded “for services to the financial sector and public life in Yorkshire”.

Tim Smith has been a member of Council since 2019, sitting on both the Audit and Risk Committee and the Group on Pensions.

He chaired the Trade and Agriculture Commission – the advisory board set up to advise and inform the Government’s trade policies, which delivered its final report in March 2021 – and is awarded a CBE “for services to agriculture, food, and drink trade policy”.

Both have made, in their different spheres, an immense contribution to public life; their awards are richly deserved and the University congratulates them warmly.

Also among those receiving recognition in the New Year Honours were Professor Doug Oakervee, one of the country’s leading engineers and an honorary Professor in the School of Civil Engineering. 

Read more

Prestigious award for leading polar expert

Professor Ian Brooks in a dark polar landscape.

Professor Ian Brooks has received the Polar Medal

Ian Brooks, Professor of Boundary Layer Processes in the School of Earth and Environment, has been awarded the Polar Medal by the Queen.

It is awarded to people who have given valued service in the polar regions, and recognises Professor Brooks’ outstanding contribution to our understanding of atmosphere-ocean interactions in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.

He said: “It is a great and unexpected honour to be awarded the Polar Medal. It feels a little odd to receive a personal honour like this for what is inherently a collaborative endeavour – polar science can't be carried out alone.

“My reason for going to the poles is the science – to try and understand the processes controlling polar climate, and the accelerating changes taking place there.

“It’s a privilege to get to spend time in such beautiful, fragile places. There is something very special about working there which draws many of us back, again and again. Every time I return, I worry I might not get to go back.”

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Simone Buitendijk, said: “It is a remarkable achievement. The University of Leeds is at the forefront of polar research and the impact of climate change on this vulnerable region. Professor Brooks’ work in this field and his role in international research expeditions – often in harsh conditions – is well worthy of this recognition.”

Initially, the Polar Medal set out to reward the participants of the first successful expedition to the Antarctic region, but in recent decades most awards have been made to people who – over prolonged periods of time and often in harsh conditions – have worked to advance knowledge of the polar regions.

Read the full story

Going from strength to strength

Nina Anne Lawrence stands in a gym with her Remarkable Coach award.

Director of International Pathway Programmes, and strongwoman, Nina Anne Lawrence with her award

Nina Anne Lawrence has received the 2021 Remarkable Coach Award from Strength and Conditioning Education.

The honour aims to recognise coaches who’ve achieved something out of the ordinary. In Nina Anne’s case, it references her efforts in setting up the Strength for Life programme at Leeds.

She started strength training only two years ago and, during Healthy Week 2021, as our very own over-50 competitive strongwoman, she volunteered to be a strength champion.   

Her initial seminar that week with Tim Jarrett, Lead Strength and Conditioning Coach, explored sarcopenia and the benefits of strength training to combat the natural loss of muscle and bone density, plus the mental benefits of exercise. 

From this – with the support of colleagues from Sport and Physical Activity – she developed a full five-week course.  

Nina Anne said: “As a competitive strongwoman in my 50s, I have a passion for strength training and its benefits, both physically and mentally, and really wanted to share this with the wider staff body at the University. 

“To have the course formally recognised by a respected external body is thrilling. I received this as recognition for my work, and also that of the Strength and Conditioning team at Leeds Sport.”

Attendees achieved everything from deadlifts and squatting to overhead press plus strongman techniques.

Strength4Life continues to grow and develop, with a new 10-week course currently underway.

You can also find Nina Anne on Instagram

Spin-off funding success

Professor Jaafar Elmirghani inspects some computing equipment in a lab.Professor Jaafar Elmirghani’s spin-out is celebrating a major funding boost

Ultracell Networks, founded by Professor Jaafar Elmirghani (School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering), has secured more than £1.6 million in seed funding.

Based in Nexus, Ultracell Networks focuses on transforming the Internet to improve its energy efficiency and sustainability.

Information and communication technologies have a carbon footprint comparable to that of the global aviation industry, and are responsible for 2% of global emissions.

Unlike global aviation, which has almost flat growth, traffic in communication networks continues to grow at 30-40% per year, doubling every two years.

The funding has come from multiple sources to support a host of projects in the spin-off:

  • Energy-efficient Cellular Optical Interconnects for Clouds and Edge-processing (ECOICE) aims to improve the sustainability of data centre networking;
  • Energy-efficient Cloudlets for Open Radio Access Network (ECORAN), which is at the heart of 5G and 6G communications network improves their energy efficiency; and
  • Energy-efficient Cellular Optical Networks (ECO-Net), which will develop proof-of-concept energy efficient cellular optical networks for interconnecting servers in an energy efficient manner.

Professor Elmirghani said: “I’m thrilled that our technology has been selected and supported by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) under the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund (EEF) programme, funding the ECOICE project.

“ECOICE will transform the networking used in edge processing and in data centres, improving energy efficiency and resilience. I’m delighted that ECOICE will be carried out in collaboration with world-leading network operators, including BT, Vodafone and Orange. I’m also excited that our technology has been selected and supported by the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in the Future Radio Access Network Competition funding the ECORAN project.

“ECORAN will have a significant impact on edge processing, improving energy efficiency and resilience, too. The support for ECO-Net is the icing on the cake.

“Adopted globally, the reduction in emissions through Ultracell Networks Technologies is equivalent to the elimination of home emissions in a country the size of Greece or Belgium.”

The research was initially funded by the £5.9m EPSRC INTelligent Energy awaRe NETworks (INTERNET) Programme Grant, and continued through the £6.6m EPSRC Terabit Optical Wireless Systems (TOWS) Programme Grant, where Professor Elmirghani is PrincipaI Investigator.

Find out more

Recognition for Physics outreach

Professor Michael Ries stands with his award in the garden.

Professor Michael Ries’ outreach work has been recognised

Professor Michael Ries (School of Physics and Astronomy) has received the Institute of Physics’ (IOP) Phillips Prize Award.

The award recognises his distinguished service to the IOP Yorkshire branch since joining in 1999.

In that time, he has performed many outreach events, inspiring countless children and adults alike with the fun of physics.

He said: “It’s an incredible honour to receive the Phillips Award for my contributions to the Institute of Physics.

“The IOP has given me the opportunity to communicate my passion for physics through outreach events and it’s wonderful to be recognised for this work.”

Professor Ries has been responsible for all of the regional events in the Yorkshire Paperclip Physics Competition, which explored physics through everyday items, and has held roles ranging from webmaster to honorary chair and honorary treasurer.

He was also the branch webmaster from 2002 to 2006 and was an outreach representative from 2010 to 2012. He has been, and still is, involved with the organisation of a number of workshops, lectures and science festivals.

Find out more

Climate emergency film award

The title splash from the Newland film.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) recognised the film’s artistic and technical skill, as well as its serious intent to ‘give voice’ to farmers

Two Fellows are celebrating success after their film won a coveted award.

‘Newland: new vision for a wilder future’ was created as part of the Land Lines: Tipping Points project to highlight how farmers are dealing with climate change. In 2021, it won Best Climate Emergency Film of the Year at the AHRC Research in Film Awards.

The film was directed and produced by Suzie Cross – Visiting Research Fellow and Artistic Director of Land Lines in the School of English – and Dave Lynch, Fellow in Art and Science in the Cultural Institute, as well as Artist in Residence in the Centre for Immersive Technologies.

Reminding viewers that farmers are custodians of the land, who care deeply about nature and the environment, the film focuses on how the agricultural community is moving towards more sustainable practices.

Ted Hughes, one of the farmers featured in the film, said: “It’s our duty to protect what we’ve got and improve it where we can. I hope the film shows people that’s what we’re doing.”

Suzie added: “It also explores the relationship between landowners and the community, a relationship which is often the subject of a lot of suspicion and misunderstanding on both sides.”

The film is part of the larger ‘Land lines’ project, led by Professor Graham Huggan (School of English), which looks at cultural responses to land-sharing in the north of England. The initiative has also involved nature writing and art workshops in association with Castle Howard, Wild Ennerdale and Stirley Community Farm.

Watch the film

Grant success for patient safety policy researchA black and white profile image of Professor Jane O'Hara.

Professor O’Hara is a Professor of Healthcare Quality and Safety in the School of Healthcare

Professor Jane O’Hara (School of Healthcare), along with national and international colleagues, has been awarded more than £1.6 million by the National Institute for Health Research to evaluate a new patient safety policy.

This policy represents the most significant change to patient safety incident investigation in two decades.

Professor O’Hara said: “I’m very excited to be co-leading this programme of work with Professor Carl Macrae, from the University of Nottingham.

“The upcoming introduction of this new patient safety policy has the potential to have a significant impact on both staff experience of care delivery, and the quality and safety of care.

“This new funding will help us to explore and document this impact, and support the development and implementation of future safety policy.”

This ambitious 39-month project will start in May 2022, and aims to influence the successful development and implementation of future patient safety policy.

Professor O’Hara added: "I am lucky to be working with a wonderful group of collaborators in this programme of research, including Professor Rebecca Lawton from the School of Psychology. I have been working with Rebecca since 2007 – it is fantastic to be able to continue our successful research partnership with this new award."

Recognition for outstanding musical composition

Professor Martin Iddon at the Ivor Novello ceremony with his award.

Professor Martin Iddon with his award

Professor Martin Iddon, Head of the School of Music, has won an Ivor Novello Award.

His winning piece, ‘Lampades’, written for tuba and fixed media, landed Martin with the Ivors Composers Award for Solo Composition.

It was commissioned and performed by musician Jack Adler-Mckean, who plays the piece in this YouTube video.

Professor Iddon said: “I’m thrilled that ‘Lampades’ has been recognised by the Ivors, especially amongst such a remarkable set of nominees.

“It’s particularly special because the pandemic has amplified how important it is for composers to work with brilliant collaborators. I’m incredibly grateful that, no matter how unreasonable my compositional ideas might have been, I had a collaborator like Jack, whose answer was always: sure, let’s make it work.”

The jury called the work a “strikingly beautiful and original sound world creating an immersive, mysterious sense of space”.

The Ivors Composer Awards celebrate the best new works by composers writing for jazz, classical and sound art in the UK. Winners receive an Ivor Novello Award.

Recognised as a pinnacle of achievement since they were first presented in 1956, Ivor Novello Awards celebrate creative excellence in composing and songwriting.

Martin is Professor of Music and Aesthetics in the School of Music. A composer and musicologist, his works have been performed and broadcast on radio and television all over the world.

Read the full story

Pioneering fellowship for transport safety researcher

A profile image of PhD researcher Rafael Goncalves.Rafael Cirino Gonçalves has received an 18-month postdoctoral fellowship from Australian company, Seeing Machines

Rafael Cirino Gonçalves, a PhD researcher in the Institute for Transport Studies, has been awarded a fellowship by Seeing Machines – a company that provides innovative in-cabin monitoring technology for transport safety. 

The 18-month postdoctoral fellowship will support Rafael’s investigation of safety in self-driving cars.

Rafael said: “I’m really thankful to Seeing Machines and I’m so delighted that my work is recognised by industrial partners, and beyond academia. 

“This fellowship is not only a great opportunity for my career development as a researcher, but also a step towards the development of safer technology in the future.”

Rafael’s PhD supervisor and research collaborator, Professor Natasha Merat (also Institute for Transport Studies), explained the importance of his research: “As the inclusion of more advanced technology in vehicles increases, and infotainment systems attract our interest in the car, there’s concern that drivers’ attention is moved away from the roadway and the driving task, which can be detrimental for road safety.”

This safety concern will only be amplified when the development of autonomous cars gives drivers permission to engage in other activities, taking their attention further away from the road. 

The partnership with Seeing Machines has allowed Rafael, Natasha and colleagues to use a range of Occupant Monitoring Systems in the University’s Driving Simulator. This technology tracks the location of drivers’ head, eyes, hands and other body parts, to understand user behaviour, helping to develop technologies that support the driver to remain safely engaged in driving. 

Understanding how such systems can be used effectively, especially at higher levels of automation, and ensuring that they’re accurate and inclusive for all driver types, is part of a long-term research programme at Leeds. 

World Changers: Researcher spotlights

World Changers

The essay collection was curated by Vice-Chancellor, Professor Simone Buitendijk

During the past few weeks, we’ve been taking a look at the work of those who contributed to a collection of essays exploring research at Leeds, and how it’s helping to change the world.

The World Changers: Celebrating Impactful Research collection features 13 essays by early-career researchers working across an array of disciplines to make the world a fairer and more equitable place. 

The authors’ areas of expertise are wide-ranging and diverse, but the common thread tying them together is a vision of a better future for humanity, working together to tackle inequalities and create a fairer future for all.

You can now read:

You can read World Changers: Celebrating Impactful Research in full on Spotlight.

The essays are also available as an audiobook series on our SoundCloud page.

Read more about Research Transformed and how we’re enabling our research to thrive in the future.

Online courses success

Class Central's Best Online Courses of All Time in white text on a blue and orange background.

Our courses have once again featured heavily on the list

Leeds has featured heavily in this year’s Class Central 'Best Online Courses of All Time’ for 2021 list.

Eight courses made the list – double the number that appeared in 2020 – with seven receiving a five-star rating.

Class Central is a leading search engine and review site for online courses. The Best Online Courses of All Time rankings have been published on the site since 2016, based on thousands of reviews written by real learners.

Christopher Hassall, Lead Educator from Ecology and Wildlife Conservation, said: “It’s wonderful to see so many learners enjoying the Ecology and Wildlife Conservation course.

“The FutureLearn course has given an ideal platform to communicate important information about the biodiversity crisis and what researchers are doing to help.”

Some of Leeds’ courses that feature on the list are:

Find out more and see a full list of our courses.

Nominate now | Leeds Partnership Awards 2022

The Leeds Partnership Awards 2022. A young woman smiles while writing in a book.The shortlist will be announced on Thursday 24 March

Nominations are open for the Leeds Partnership Awards.

They will once again celebrate the achievements of staff and students who truly put into practice the Leeds Partnership – an agreement setting out our shared commitment to work together to support all aspects of our University community. 

It only takes a few minutes to fill out the form, and you can nominate yourself, a colleague or a student for any of the 13 category awards up for grabs.

Nominations are open until midnight on Sunday 20 February.

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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