September 23, 2021, by Rob Ounsworth
Next steps in research strategy consultation
Update from Professor Dame Jessica Corner
Welcome to our new academic year. I do hope you enjoyed a relaxing break over the summer.
The new term is an opportunity to reflect and look to the future and I would like to remind you of an invitation from Vice-Chancellor Professor Shearer West to take part in the next stage of our consultation on the future of research at our university.
We had a remarkable 1,689 responses in the first stage of our consultation. This informed a white paper, setting out a framework for the delivery of a high-performing, inclusive research ecosystem.
Your input remains invaluable as we ask colleagues from all job families across our UK, China and Malaysia campuses to further engage with our consultation.
Please discuss the white paper and respond to a short survey on its ambitions to deliver a step-change in our research quality and performance over the next five years:
Is it sufficiently ambitious to deliver our new research strategy and the challenges ahead?
What opportunities does it offer you and how can you contribute?
The consultation closes at 5pm on Friday 8 October
We are grateful for the engagement of the university community over the past year in debating our research ambitions and how we can achieve them. As Professor West reflected as she launched this next stage of our consultation:
“What has come through most strongly from you, and aligning with my own mission, is that our people are at the core of a renewed research strategy.
“Now we want to ensure we are on the right track and that the white paper’s framework to deliver a step-change in our research quality and performance over the next five years is robust and truly reflective of our whole community.”
Please share the white paper, engage with your teams and encourage colleagues to share their views.
We look forward to your responses and consideration of how we can better support each other to strengthen our ambition to deliver research of the highest quality that develops new knowledge and transforms lives.
For further updates, resources and more on how to get involved, please visit and bookmark our research strategy white paper consultation pages.
Launch of Biodiscovery Institute and Cobot Maker Space
We return this term to a busier campus, with 100% capacity in all our research facilities, and a commitment to as much in-person teaching as we can safely deliver. Welcoming guests to recent official openings of two world-class research facilities, the Biodiscovery Institute on University Park and Cobot Maker Space on Jubilee Campus, further underlines that we are very much back in business.
The Biodiscovery Institute was opened by Professor Fiona Watt, Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council and Professor West, who were among 100 guests including leading scientists, government officials and key figures in healthcare and funding bodies from across the UK.
The Cobot Maker Space is a dedicated facility for research and industry collaboration into new innovations in robots and artificial intelligence, exploring ways to enhance human-robot interaction in a range of real-life scenarios.
Welcome to new and returning PGRs
I would like to welcome new and returning postgraduate research students, and remind you that the Researcher Academy, together with faculty PGR representatives and your supervisors, are here to offer support throughout the new academic session.
New starters will next week receive an email from the Researcher Academy, which will offer a snapshot of the dedicated training, resources and activities available.
Please also see information on inductions and events for new and returning postgraduate researchers.
I would also encourage all PGRs to bookmark the Researcher Academy pages, which are an invaluable resource.
PGRs are highly valued members of our research community and I wish you every success in your studies.
Recognition for outstanding researchers
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Engineering Professor Sam Kingman, a process engineer with a flair for providing industry with innovative solutions, and Professor Barrie Hayes-Gill, an electronic engineer with a passion for connecting his research to applications in industry and healthcare, have each been elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. Professors Kingman and Hayes-Gill are making a real difference in the world through their research, teaching and leadership and on behalf of the university I would like to congratulate them on this great achievement.
Dr Adam Berrington, based in the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre, has meanwhile been awarded a Fellowship from the Royal Academy of Engineering to support his research into how brain tumours are diagnosed and monitored.
Judith Still, Emeritus Professor of French and Critical Theory, has been elected as Vice-President (Humanities) of the British Academy, which champions the study of the humanities and social sciences in the UK.
Professor of Chemistry Mike George has been elected to the Academia Europaea, which promotes European research and advises governments and international organisations on scientific matters.
Emma Banks, a final year PhD student supervised by Professor Liz Sockett in the School of Life Sciences, is the Sir Howard Dalton Young Microbiologist of the Year, awarded by the Microbiology Society.
Four of our researchers have been shortlisted in the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards 2021 –the ‘Oscars of Higher Education’:
Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community–Professor Louise Mullany (School of English) and Dr Loretta Trickett (Nottingham Law School), for a community project on gender hate crime that highlighted street harassment, violence and abuse of women and girls in public spaces.
Outstanding Research Supervisor– Dr Ravinder Anand-Ivell, Associate Professor of Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology and Director of Postgraduate and Postdoctoral Research (School of Biosciences).
Research Project of the Year (Arts)– for Dr Heike Bartel and the “Hungry for Words: Creative Approach to start the conversation about eating disorders in men” project.
UKRI Future Leaders Fellows
Nottingham Research Fellow Dr Peter Millington (Physics and Astronomy) and Dr Liam Ball (Chemistry) have been announced as UKRI Future Leaders Fellows. Peter has been awarded £1m for his research into the nature of the dark universe and Liam £1.75m to deliver new methods to streamline the discovery and development of the next generation of agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals.
These highly competitive and prestigious awards recognise the UK’s future science leaders, and we now number six Future Leaders Fellows at Nottingham, with a further six candidates under review in the latest round. This is an outstanding track record.
Professor Paul Brown of the Nanoscale and Microscale Research Centre has been awarded £1.47m by EPSRC to advance understanding of molecular structures with new state-of-the-art pixelated electron cameras.
Professor Justine Schneider and Research Associate Becky Dowson of the School of Sociology and Social Policy have been awarded £350,000 from the National Institute for Health Research to investigate the feasibility of a larger scale study to demonstrate the benefits of singing for people with dementia and their carers.
Update on fellowships recruitment
The 2021/22 round of our prestigious Nottingham Research and Anne McLaren fellowship schemes, which aim to attract and retain outstanding early career researchers, relaunched on 31 July. Please do promote this opportunity as widely as possible – ensuring that potential candidates contact their host school before applying to discuss their research proposal and fit to the research interests of the school.
Our sector leading fellowship schemes have so far recruited more than 80 exceptional fellows, with many now transitioned to permanent academic positions.
Vote for Sammi in global Three Minute Thesis competition
Sammi Harrison, PhD student in the School of Medicine is representing the university in the global online Under 21 Three Minute Thesis (U21 3MT) competition. Sammi has created an outstanding three-minute video presentation describing the complexity and relevance of her research to a non-academic audience. Sammi has already won the Researcher Academy 3MT, the Tri-Campus 3MT and the EMDoc 3MT competition. Voting in the peoples’ choice award is open until 4 October.
Your chance to influence UK research culture
I encourage colleagues from all disciplines to consider applying to join the UK Committee on Research Integrity (UK CORI). This new body, hosted by UK Research and Innovation, is seeking a Chair and members who are motivated to influence, inspire and catalyse positive change across research cultures within the UK and beyond. Find out more about the roles and how to apply.
SafePod allows researchers to access secure datasets
In August, the university became one of the first institutions in the country to offer access to a SafePod. Installed at Hallward Library, the SafePod allows researchers to access secure datasets, removing the travel, cost and time barriers involved in attending a data centre.
The SafePod is part of a new network funded by the ESRC. Data centres participating at launch are Office for National Statistics’ Secure Research Service, UK Data Service and SAIL Databank (Welsh health data). Other data centres are expected to join the network over time. For more information, visit the university’s SafePod page.
Building networks in Germany
The universities of Nottingham and Tübingen have announced a second round of a networking funding, with up to four fully-funded PhD studentships available for co-supervision. Two of these will be based at Nottingham and two at Tübingen. The scheme underlines our commitment to building relationships with Tübingen and other leading German research institutions. The application deadline is Sunday 17 October 2021. Find out more.
My thanks as we embark on the 2021/22 academic year
I wish to thank each and every one of you for your contribution, and reaffirm that the university remains committed to your wellbeing – please see this guide to Covid safety measures and policies on hybrid and flexible working, support, and safety on campus.
With very best wishes
Professor Dame Jessica Corner
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange
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