Celebrate Our Staff – January 2023

Join us as we celebrate our colleagues’ achievements across the University from the past few weeks.

The six people of celebrate our staff in January 2023: Dr Tendai Mangena, Dr Manoj Sivan, Matt Howard, Professor Kanti Mardia, Professor Pinar Akman and Professor Nick Taylor.

Featured this month:

New Year Honour for mathematics professor

Professor Kanti Mardia, who has received a lifetime achievement award from the International Indian Statistical Association. February 2020

Professor Kanti Mardia has been awarded an OBE for services to statistical science in the New Year Honours.

Professor Mardia, whose work at Leeds School of Mathematics is at the forefront of medical imaging research, has been appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by King Charles III in this year’s New Year Honours.

Currently a Senior Research Professor, he was previously Chair of Applied Statistics – a position he had held since joining the University in 1973.

Professor Mardia is also a Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford and holds an Emeritus Fellowship of the Leverhulme Trust.

He said: “I have been very fortunate to work at two great universities – Leeds for 50 years as a full professor and for the past 10 years with Oxford.

“I am grateful to my PhD students, research fellows, colleagues and collaborators who work together to make such a large and successful statistical community here in Leeds, and more widely across the UK and internationally.”

Professor Mardia’s research includes life-saving shape analysis to assess the extent of brain damage in people exposed to alcohol before birth – known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Another of his projects is related to craniofacial surgery for deformities such as cleft lip, and the ability of patients to make natural facial expressions following surgery, such as smiling.

The founding Vice-President of the International Indian Statistical Association (IISA), Professor Mardia has received many awards during his career.

He’s also the founder and organiser of the Leeds Annual Statistics Research workshops, and The Royal Statistical Society has, since 2016, run the annual Mardia Prize for supporting interdisciplinary workshops.

Read more about Professor Mardia’s honour.

Recognition for competition law specialist

Professor Pinar Akman, Director of the Centre for Business Law and Practice

Professor Pinar Akman is celebrating being recognised as one of the world’s leading antitrust academics.

Pinar Akman, Professor of Law at Leeds, was profiled as one of the ‘world’s most influential’ antitrust academics by Global Competition Review – a leading news service for the world of competition law.

Antitrust law, also known as competition law, concerns ensuring there’s sufficient competition between businesses and that no groups of companies can exploit positions of monopoly.

Reflecting on the recognition, Professor Akman said: “I am delighted to be recognised by Global Competition Review as one of the world’s leading antitrust scholars. It is fantastic to receive such external acknowledgement of my contributions to the field and to have my research globally promoted in this way.”

Professor Akman’s work cuts across the different disciplines and methodologies of antitrust law. Her contributions to the field have included research on the historical foundations of the European Union’s competition rules, as well as empirical research on the use of online platforms by consumers.

It was on the theme of the internet that she was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize by the Leverhulme Trust in 2017, with the aim of furthering her research into how competition law can be applied in digital markets.

Since then, she has worked with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Economic Forum and International Monetary Fund, as well as the UK government, to provide expertise and advice on competition law and policy.

Recently, Professor Akman has been appointed to the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) inaugural Innovation Advisory Group.

Professor Akman also received a Woman of Achievement Award from the University of Leeds in 2018, which highlighted the work she had done with the funding from the Philip Leverhulme Prize.  

Presidency for field-leading medicine researcher

Dr Manoj Sivan

Dr Manoj Sivan has been appointed as the President of the British Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (BSPRM). 

The BSPRM comprises doctors who manage long-term medical conditions and disabilities. Dr Sivan, of the School of Medicine, joined the society as a trainee in 2007 and has since served on its various committees. 

Rehabilitation medicine is a field Dr Sivan has worked in for several years. He led the society’s landmark Rehabilitation Medicine Expansion Proposal (RMEP) initiative, which created a roadmap for how the UK could increase its number of rehabilitation specialists. 

He said: “I am in the role not because I wanted to be the President. It is the RMEP initiative that convinced colleagues to elect me as the right person to lead them on a path of expansion and growth.  

“It will be a tough act given the current NHS crisis and lack of funding for new training positions. But I am determined to take the society on a path of international equivalence and eventually make an impact on patients’ lives in the country with better specialist rehabilitation care.” 

Recently, he led a study that saw ‘impressive’ results for people with Long COVID, showing how a gradual return to exercise can help reduce ‘crashes’ and periods of exhaustion. 

Published in the Journal of Medical Virology in December 2022, the approach has the potential to be an effective treatment option. 

Read more about the study into Long COVID recovery led by Dr Sivan. 

Global professorship for new Leeds academic

Tendai Mangena

Dr Tendai Mangena will take up a position at Leeds having been awarded a prestigious Global Professorship by the British Academy.

The University is delighted to welcome Dr Mangena, who will, with this award, take up a four-year position associated with the Leeds University Centre for African Studies and the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science. She will undertake a research programme titled ‘Uncoupling Heteropatriarchy in African Feminism’.

Dr Mangena is currently Associate Professor of African Literary and Cultural Studies at Great Zimbabwe University in Masvingo, and Research Fellow at the University of the Free State, South Africa. She received her PhD in 2015 from Leiden University. Since then, she held an Alexander von

Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Bremen University and a Fulbright Visiting Scholarship at the University of California, Riverside.

Dr Mangena said: “I feel greatly honoured and also overwhelmed to have been selected as one of the eight recipients of the Global Professorship award in 2022.

“The Professorship will offer me a great opportunity to collaborate and set an innovative research agenda of promoting the emerging field of ‘single studies’ as a critical sub-field of gender studies in Africa. 

“I am very excited and look forward to joining the internationally renowned Leeds University Centre for African Studies (LUCAS) and to working closely with colleagues at LUCAS, as well as with my host professor, Adriaan van Klinken, whose passion for the development of African studies is both unwavering and inspiring.”

Find out more about the Leeds University Centre for African Studies.

Parkinson's no barrier as professor achieves England goal

Professor Nick Taylor playing walking football for people with Parkinson's

When Professor Nick Taylor was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 10 years ago, he never dreamed he’d play football for England.

His first thought was that it was ‘the end.’ But after he read a tweet about the possibility of playing football, Nick joined up with other people living with Parkinson’s through social media to start a walking football team called the Pennine Parkies.

The team got the opportunity to play in a national Parkinson’s walking football tournament at St George’s Park in March 2022 and he was later selected for the England team – something he had “never dreamed of”.

Nick, a professor in the School of Law, said: “With Parkinson’s you often think – certainly when you get it – that’s it, that’s the end… so, if there’s an opportunity to play football again, it’s just brilliant.”

Staying active is one of the best ways to slow down some of the degenerative effects of Parkinson’s, and the social aspect of playing is also very important.

Nick added: “You tend to shrink away from social activities when you’re first diagnosed. You see people coming out of the shadows to play when you know full well they would otherwise be slipping into the background.”

Looking ahead, Nick now wants to raise greater awareness of Parkinson’s walking football wherever possible. Interest in Parkinson’s sport generally is also growing and it attracts people of all ages.

Read more about Nick’s story. You can also find out more about the Pennine Parkies on Twitter.

National publication for conservationist poet

Matt Howard, Douglas Caster Fellow in Poetry

Matt Howard has had his poem ‘The Pond’ featured in news magazine The New Statesman.

Matt, the Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow in Poetry in the School of English at Leeds, works as a conservationist alongside writing poetry.

‘The Pond’ was published in The New Statesman’s 13 January edition. It tells the story of a duck awakening from winter:

Here’s the start of a new sense of things –
just into March, the light and air fuller
and that mallard, so still there at the edge,
her heaviness pending, neck stretched,
not at rest; she can only be considering
her own streaked reflection, herself, held there
in the shade, and in the clay-backed mirror
of water, with no call for contact or confrontation,
just caught in a glance of the ways things are;
meeting a fresh slant of our mirrored selves;
now surely this is how it all begins, continues,
as this one, then another and then another.

Many of Matt’s poems are inspired by “the more-than-human world” where he lives in Norfolk.

He said: “When writing, what I'm most after is something that works first as a poem. Though, as a conservationist, there's always a part of me thinking about what more can be done to reconnect us with the natural world, how to feel, think and maybe even act. 

“Of course, it's too grand an ambition to think that a poem, or indeed any work of art, can solve the nature and climate crisis on its own, but given that the arts are such an expression of how we feel and think, there’s undoubtedly a vital role in that space.”

Matt’s first full collection of poems, titled ‘Gall’, was published by the poetry magazine Rialto in 2018. He’s currently working on his second, ‘Broadlands’, which is due out next year – with a possible third collection coming after that.

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 and Engagement 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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