Tom Rodden

February 26, 2024, by Rob Ounsworth

Celebrating excellence and improving the research experience

Professor Tom Rodden’s research update

In my latest update, I am delighted to share news of how the quality of research and knowledge exchange at Nottingham has been acknowledged and celebrated.  

We hosted visitors, including Science Minister Andrew Griffith MP and key funders, who were hugely impressed by our world-leading researchers and partnerships. I would like to thank colleagues involved in the visits, which also marked significant funding successes. 

My congratulations also to all those involved in the 2024 Knowledge Exchange and Impact awards, which represent only a fraction of the excellent work in these areas across the university. At an inspiring awards evening, we celebrated the impact of our research and knowledge exchange, while offering guests and colleagues the opportunity to connect and forge new collaborations. 

I’m also pleased to announce an ambitious project that is committed to making life easier at every stage of the research project lifecycle.

Visits by high-profile funders and Science Minister  

During his visit, Science Minister Andrew Griffith MP announced a £2m award to University of Nottingham spin-out company Cerca Magnetics to support research into detecting early signs of dementia, using revolutionary brain scanning technology developed at Nottingham. 

Mr Griffith, accompanied by Dr Amanda Collis of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, unveiled the Nottingham award as part of a £45m government investment in the UK’s quantum sector. 

The minister also visited the university’s GlycoCell Engineering Biology Mission Hub, which will develop vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, benefiting millions of people worldwide, thanks to funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The hub will receive £12.3m in funding as part of an overall investment of £100m from UKRI’s Technology Missions Fund. 

Professor Christopher Smith, executive chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, meanwhile visited the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University to learn about how we are working to support creative and cultural initiatives in the city, including the Department of Classics and Archaeology’s AHRC-funded City of Caves project. 

Improving the researcher experience 

I am also pleased to share news of an ambitious project aiming to making life easier at every stage of the research project lifecycle, as part of the university’s commitment to provide an environment that helps everyone deliver world-class research. 

Delivering our pioneering research involves teams of dedicated colleagues across faculties, schools and professional services. From putting in a bid, securing funding, getting a project code, signing contracts, recruitment and purchasing through to producing exciting outputs, delivering research is challenging and rewarding. And at points along this complex research lifecycle, it can be pretty frustrating! 

We have listened to your experiences and how this process could be improved, with the goal of creating a more streamlined, efficient and satisfying work environment for everyone. 

My thanks to all involved in this important work and to all the dedicated colleagues who have shared their expertise and experiences so far at workshops. By identifying challenges and offering constructive suggestions, your insights have helped Director of Research and Innovation Operations Rachel Brereton and her team develop actionable plans to improve how we support you. 

We are committed to keeping you informed of our progress and look forward to sharing outcomes and their positive impact. 

If you would like to get involved or share related workstreams with the project team, please contact 

Interim Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Researcher Academy and Researcher Career Development 

I am delighted to welcome Professor Richard Graham as Interim Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Researcher Academy and Researcher Career Development. 

Richard participated in the Researcher Academy’s Nottingham Researcher Leadership Programme so it’s fantastic to see he is now strategically leading the programme. It’s a great testament to the value of the Researcher Academy. 

Richard brings not only a great energy but also an excellent skill set and invaluable insight and experience thanks to his previous roles – I know he believes deeply in the importance of the experience of our research students and staff receive at Nottingham. 

He will be integral in steering the academic direction for the Researcher Academy, developing and delivering of strategic initiatives in relation to researchers and researcher career development, and in providing institutional leadership in the PGR space. 

Research Academy leadership programmes 

The application deadline for the Nottingham Research Leadership Programme is 28 February. 

The Researcher Academy has also launched a leadership programme for mid-career researchers. Nominations for the Research Leadership Accelerator Programme close on 4 March. 

This programme aims to inspire mid-career researchers and help them to excel in their current roles and prepare for leadership positions. Heads of Schools play a key role in the process by nominating researchers for this programme. If you meet the eligibility criteria and are eager to embark on this transformative journey, reach out to your Head of School to submit a nomination on your behalf. 

Find out more 

Knowledge Exchange and Impact awards 

More than 250 people – including researchers and our industry and civic partners – attended the 2024 Knowledge Exchange and Impact awards. 

It was a fantastic evening celebrating our achievements with colleagues, funders, collaborators and beneficiaries and the impact of our research and KE in Nottingham, the UK and across the world. 

I’m delighted that so many excellent projects, bringing together so many disciplines across the university, were highlighted. Congratulations to everyone involved, in contributing to the shortlisted entries as well as the eventual winners. The awards are also an opportunity to connect with colleagues and celebrate engagement with our partners. 

Director of IP Commercialisation Dr Susan Huxtable and Maxine Lazzari, IP Team Administrator did a wonderful job of organising a memorable evening. 

The evening demonstrated the power of face-to- face networking, with serendipitous interactions both between academic colleagues from different faculties and with external businesses. These interactions have already resulted in new relationships and joint research bids. 

The ceremony was introduced by Professor Shearer West, who presented Dr Vicky Kemp from the School of Law with the Vice Chancellor’s award in honour of a lifetime of achievement.  

The awards honoured all five university faculties, while a “rising stars” category celebrated outstanding younger researchers. 

Full list of winners 

University partnership with ITP Aero receives £1.5 million funding boost 

The University of Nottingham, Manufacturing Technology Centre and ITP Aero have been awarded £1.5m in Government funding to support a three-year Laser Welding research and development project. The three-year project, known as LADDER (Laser Automation and Design Development for future Engine Requirements), will see a total investment of £2.59m, both from ITP Aero itself and the Government’s Innovation Funding Service. This significant milestone reflects a shared commitment to investing in technology across the East Midlands. 

Spin-out raises £7.5m for research into cardiovascular disease 

A university spin-out that is developing a new treatment for patients with cardiovascular disease has raised £7.5m in funding. UK-based biopharmaceutical company IsomAb Ltd was founded in 2022 by Professor David Bates from Nottingham’s Centre for Cancer Sciences and Professor Steve Harper of the University of Bristol. 

And finally – discover a lost Hitchcock movie 

Kieran Foster, Assistant Professor in Film and Screen Studies in the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies, has been working with the Nottingham Contemporary as part of its Life After Dark Film Festival. 

Kieran is curating a live reading by actors of The Blind Man, a script co-written by Alfred Hitchcock, the legendary director of Psycho and other classic suspense movies, that was never made into a film. 

Find out more and book 

With thanks and best wishes 

Professor Tom Rodden
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange