Jessica Corner

May 28, 2021, by Rob Ounsworth

Research strategy consultation and town halls: your wonderful response

Update from Professor Dame Jessica Corner

Our consultation on the development of the University’s new research strategy is having a wonderful response.

More than 1,600 colleagues provided us with feedback on the green paper consultation, and around 500 of you attended virtual town halls, where we updated you on the consultation to date and discussed your further questions.

Together, we are creating a rich shared resource to draw upon as we plan for the challenges ahead.

Your thoughts and input will inform next steps, with a focus on the themes arising from the green paper consultation and the town halls.

On our research ambitions, your suggestions include:

  • Cultivating a culture that nurtures and encourages researchers at all levels of seniority
  • Developing a vibrant research community that is supportive, inclusive and ambitious, across all career stages
  • A focus on real change and work with our partners to tackle big challenges that will make a difference

On the question ‘what have we done well?’, you said:

  • Invested in collaborative research centres such as Beacons of Excellence and the Nanoscale and Microscale Research Centre, and our fellowship schemes
  • Encouraging radical multidisciplinarity
  • Improved support for funding bids

To do better, we should:

  • Invest in people, provide built-in time for the planning and development of projects, and prioritise talking about research a priority at grass-roots level.​
  • Empower academic staff to develop and lead research, and provide time to mentor staff effectively
  • Communicate clearly and consistently

Across all responses, wellbeing, time, quality of research, support and working conditions are recurring themes.

At the series of five faculty-hosted town halls, which were hosted by the relevant APVC for Research and Knowledge  – Professor John Gathergood (Social Sciences); Professor Chris Tuck (Engineering); Professor Lynda Pratt (Arts), Professor Richard Emes (Medicine and Health Sciences) and Professor Phil Williams (Science) – we were asked many varied and interesting questions. By demanding thoughtful responses to complex challenges, you will help us shape a research strategy that is agile and resilient and strengthen a confident, creative research culture.

Next in our research strategy consultation, we will look at the drivers and interventions needed to deliver our goals and ask smaller groups of colleagues what these should be.

Please bookmark and refer to the Developing our research strategy pages for updates and resources, including recordings from each of the town halls, a timeline and informative slides from town halls that tell the story of the consultation so far.

Thank you once again for your stimulating support and goodwill.

Realising our potential

The Russell Group has published Realising our Potential, a report setting out practical ways to improve UK research culture. Its recommendations include extending grant periods and reducing the use of short academic contracts, creating opportunities for progression, and recognising work outside of research that contributes to a better environment.  As a Russell Group university, we have committed to using the toolkit and the report makes interesting reading as we shape our new research strategy.

Government’s independent review of research bureaucracy

Also of interest to our own consultation, the Government is undertaking a review of research bureaucracy, which is chaired by Professor Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex. Adam Golberg is our point of contact in Research and Innovation and would like your input as we feed into this review, which supports the goals of the Government’s research and development roadmap.

Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor appointments

I am delighted to welcome Neil Crout and Phil Williams to our team of Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellors (APVC) for Research and Knowledge Exchange.

Their appointments are part of a review of leadership roles to strengthen delivery of the university’s renewed research strategy.

Neil, a former head of the School of Biosciences, is the Academic Lead for the university’s REF2021 submission and has been appointed to a new APVC post, supporting the Faculty Research AVPC team.

Phil becomes the Faculty of Science APVC, succeeding Professor Zoe Wilson, who has been appointed interim Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Science. He is currently Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange for the School of Pharmacy.

New Provost appointed for UoN Malaysia

Professor Sarah Metcalfe has been appointed as the new Provost for the University of Nottingham in Malaysia, taking up role from 1 August 2021 for an initial period of one year. Sarah has worked at the University of Nottingham since 2003, with roles including Head of School, APVC for Research and Knowledge Exchange for the Faculty of Social Sciences and lead of the Developing Sustainable Societies Global Research Theme.

Researcher Integrity Week, 21-25 June

The university is holding its inaugural Research Integrity Week from 21 June. A series of sessions are being held to promote awareness and discuss issues such as how research culture drives research integrity, the challenges of everyday research and the tools and support available to you, and the ethics of big data. Colleagues from the Rights Lab and Digital Research are among those sharing insights.

Find out more and book your place

Researcher Academy 2021 Tri-Campus Awards 

These prestigious awards celebrate our outstanding postgraduate researchers, research supervisors and postdoctoral researchers, and recognise accomplishments in research, publications, conferences and contribution to our postgraduate research and teaching community.

The awards include winners from University of Nottingham Ningbo China and University of Nottingham Malaysia and was streamed live across all three campuses.

I was delighted to take part in the virtual rewards ceremony and humbled to hear about so many inspirational colleagues.

Full list of winners

Researcher Wellbeing Week 28 June – 2 July

Researcher Wellbeing Week is open to postgraduate researchers and research staff, with more than 25 sessions throughout from the Researcher Academy, Support and Wellbeing team, Counselling Service, Sports Centre and others.  Booking information goes live today (28 May).

UK Research Supervision Survey

The UK Research Supervision Survey, run by the UK Council for Graduate Education and supported by Wellcome Trust and UKRI, closes on 31 May.

It gives all those involved in research supervision an opportunity to share their experiences of supervising doctoral candidates and its findings will inform a report on research supervision and how it is supported, recognised and rewarded.

Complete the survey

Doctoral training programme with University of Queensland

The University of Nottingham, in partnership with The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia, is inviting applications to join a doctoral training programme dedicated to transforming healthcare by delivering the next generation of biomedical imaging.

The two successful UK candidates will join a cohort of eight doctoral students working across both institutes, with research placements of up to six months at UQ an integral part of the studentship. The DTP underlines a deepening collaboration between the University of Nottingham and UQ.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council will fund the successful UK candidates, with support from Nottingham’s flagship Centre for Additive Manufacturing  and the Precision Imaging Beacon.

Find out more

Internationalisation, research and security

Continuing to strengthen our international partnerships is integral to delivering world-class research and a key goal of our research strategy. Following the UK’s research and development roadmap, and reflecting on Universities UK’s report on managing risks in internationalisation, we have reviewed our policies on protecting our reputation, people, campuses and partnerships against international risks, while safeguarding our academic freedom. Our priorities – ensuring staff are aware of such risks and that training is robust; a system for sharing geopolitical intelligence; a framework to allow staff to raise concerns – can be found on the Global Engagement Hub, together with the University’s report on Internationalisation: Security Related Issues, and other resources.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has meanwhile launched a Research Collaboration Advice Team to promote government advice on security-related topics, such as export controls, cyber security and protection of intellectual property. It will ensure researchers’ work is protected, and that the UK research sector remains open and secure.

Updated guidelines for travel

Following the launch of the university’s new travel system provided by Key Travel and to align with the government’s updated guidelines on travel for essential purposes, the process for booking travel has been revised.

The guidance will be updated next week on the Business Travel Pages.

Please note the following:

  • Any travel booked must be for essential purposes only at this time
  • All travel should be booked through the Key Travel system
  • All travel should be supported by a risk assessment approved and signed off by a FPVC or Director level in APM departments
  • Any travel to a country classified as Red for Covid risk or high risk via the FDCO  or includes a high risk activity as per the risk assessment must also be approved by the Registrar prior to travel being booked.

New publishing opportunities for researchers

Senior Research Librarian Tony Simmonds has written a valuable blog about new publishing opportunities for researchers as the Open Access revolution gathers pace. The university is signing up to more and more agreements with publishers, with paywalls that block access to your discoveries coming down and the administrative burden on authors easing.

Find out more, including guidance from Libraries.

GeoNutrition in Nature

GeoNutrition, a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded project led by the university has been published in Nature. The project is led by Professor Martin Broadley of the School of Biosciences and includes Future Food Beacon colleagues Murray Lark and Diriba Kumssa.  GeoNutrition tackles hidden hunger – micronutrient deficiencies in food crops in Ethiopia and Malawi – and its partners include Addis Ababa University, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Malawi and Ethiopia governments, Rothamsted Research, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and the British Geological Survey. It is worth noting that a key aim of the project is building research capacity in Africa and that the paper’s co-lead authors are Dr Dawd Gashu of Addis Ababa University, and Dr Patson Nalivata, who leads the Malawi arm of GeoNutrition.

Trio of success for healthcare technologies networks

The university has been awarded three new Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) healthcare technologies NetworkPlus grants.

The scheme supports interdisciplinary research networks working to deliver the science needed to transform healthcare. Nottingham was awarded three of the seven EPSRC NetworkPlus grants available:

Professor of Additive Manufacturing Ruth Goodridge leads the network on Next Generation Rehabilitation Technologies, in partnership with Loughborough University.

Dr Bindi Brook of the School of Mathematics leads the BIOREME network on Integrating data-driven biophysical models into respiratory medicine (with the universities of Oxford, Leicester, Warwick and Manchester).

Dr Serhiy Korposh of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, is co-investigator of the network on Future blood testing for inclusive monitoring and personalised analytics Network+ (led by University of Reading with Universities of Warwick, Southampton and Kent)

More awards success

Other notable awards include £7.6m by the D2N2 LEP towards the development of the £16.8m UK Electrification of Aerospace Propulsion Facility. Hosted within the new Power Electronics and Electrical Machines Centre, the facility will support the East Midlands vision to be the world’s foremost location for low carbon aerospace innovation.

Mike Slade, Professor of Mental Health Recovery and Social Inclusion, from the School of Health Sciences and the Institute of Mental Health, will lead the first citizen science and mental health study – the Citizen Science To Achieve Coproduction at Scale, thanks to the largest public engagement grant ever awarded by UKRI.

The university is to lead the world’s largest trial to evaluate the viability of a material called biochar to store carbon from the atmosphere to counter the impact of climate change. Professor Colin Snape, Director of the Nottingham’s EPSRC Centre of Doctoral Training in Carbon capture and Storage and Cleaner Fossil Energy, is leading the £4.5m UKRI-funded project.

Thank you once again for your dedication.

Best wishes

Jessica Corner's signature

Professor Dame Jessica Corner
Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange








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