Academic Impact

Showcasing our academic expertise

Our academics use their expertise and influence to nurture new talent, share skills and drive innovation and change. Drawing on their research, industry experience and strong business connections, they are influencing policy, winning awards and raising the profile of the University and city around the world.

Close up of a microscope

Appointments and achievements

Vice-Chancellor awarded CBE

Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to education in the 2022 New Year Honours List. The award recognises Professor Mitchell’s impact over her 30-year career in education, including seven years as a Wellcome Fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, and roles at the University of Chicago, the Rockefeller Institute in New York, and the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel. 

Since 2016 she has been Chair of the Derby Opportunity Area Board – during that time school attainment in the city has improved by 25 places and 70% of children have achieved good development, closing the gap by 4% to the national level of 72%.

Lord Burlington, Chancellor of the University, said: “Kathryn’s commitment and dedication to the University, as well as to the city and wider region, is impressive and unwavering, as is her drive to deliver benefits far beyond the student body. She is a truly inspirational leader and a passionate advocate for the transformational benefits of education and ensuring equity of opportunity for all.”

World-class scientist appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean

In the summer the University announced the appointment of Professor Alex Molasiotis as Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Education. 

Alex is rated among the top 2% of the world’s scientists in Stanford University’s database. Before joining the University, he was a Head of School and Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Community Health Services at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU). He previously worked at the University of Manchester; was Inaugural Head of the Academic Cancer Care Research Centre at the Christie Hospital; and a Professor of Cancer and Supportive Care.

New Pro-Vice Chancellor Dean for Health, Psychology and Social Care

Dr Denise Baker was appointed as the new Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the College of Health and Social Care. A registered diagnostic radiographer for over 20 years, Denise joined the University of Derby in 2013. She previously managed pre-qualifying healthcare and foundation degrees and apprenticeships at the University and supports apprenticeship development with various external bodies. She is a lay visitor for the Nursing and Midwifery Council and a public governor for the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton.

Our academics' successes

Here we highlight some of our academics' key achievements through the year, including awards, advisory roles and research activities.

iconQueen's Nurse status awarded **Louise Boole
iconWinner of Creativity for Good, Mainframe Awards 2022 **Ava Hunt
iconNational Teaching Fellowship awarded **Naomi Shiner

Biomedical and Clinical Sciences

Radiography academic awarded National Teaching Fellowship

In August Dr Naomi Shiner was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by Advance HE.

Naomi is the Programme Leader and a Senior Lecturer in Diagnostic Radiography and has been at the University since 2016. She is an expert in simulation-based education and chairs the College of Health, Psychology and Social Care’s Research Simulation Group. Her specialism is the use of moulage (professional make-up) in teaching.

Naomi joined five other University of Derby staff who are already National Teaching Fellows and was one of 54 new National Teaching Fellows to be awarded by Advance HE this year.

Professor Keith McLay, Provost Learning & Teaching, commented: “This award is testament to Naomi’s cutting-edge work in simulation-based pedagogies. It is especially pleasing to see the positive impact Naomi has had on both University of Derby students and the broader diagnostic radiography profession.”

Early Career Academic selected to national forum

Dr Yusra Siddiqui, Early Career Academic in Biomedical Sciences, has been selected as a member of the National Cancer Research Institute Early Career Researcher Forum Executive Committee. This role supports Early Career Researchers in the Institute by advising on forum activity, identifying and addressing members’ training needs, and chairing forum events.

In August she was also awarded a Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in recognition of her research-informed teaching.

Yusra joined the University of Derby in August 2021 and became a Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences in June 2022. Her current research explores the link between prostate cancer progression and risk factors such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), especially the human papillomavirus (HPV).

On her research-informed approach to teaching, Yusra commented: “From taking my students to see state-of-the-art instruments in research centres, to designing problem-based practical sessions, I have always tried to give a researcher’s experience to my students. They enjoy this and understand concepts better.”

Business, Economic and Social Policy

EU appointment for Law and Business professor

Professor Flora Huang, Professor of Law and Business, was appointed by the European Commission (EC) as a Chairperson for Arbitrations and Trade-and-Sustainable-Development Expert Panel Proceedings. Her role is to assist the EC to resolve bilateral disputes under the EU’s trade agreement with non-EU countries.

Flora will use her expertise to: help settle state-to-state trade and investment disputes to ensure that the rights and obligations provided for in EU free trade agreements are respected; clarify the obligations of states under international law; and develop a common understanding through case law.

Flora said: “This is a challenging but rewarding post for me. An appointment to the EU reflects both my international standing as a law professor and the University of Derby’s increasingly growing international reputation for research and teaching as well as policy engagement.”

Law lecturer achieves influential international appointment

In August Dr Eghosa Ekhator, Senior Lecturer in Law, was appointed as the Chair of the Committee on Teaching International Law, International Law Association (Nigerian Branch). 

An experienced lawyer and legal consultant in Nigeria, Eghosa is an expert on environmental rights and justice issues in developing countries, including Nigeria and the African Union. 

His academic research has been used to inform policy decisions for several key non-government organisations, international agencies and government agencies within and outside Africa. Eghosa’s publications on women’s rights in Nigeria are cited in the current version of the Nigerian National Gender Policy, published in March.

Founded in Brussels in 1873, the International Law Association promotes understanding and respect for international law. It has more than 50 branches across the world.

Commenting on his appointment as Chair, Eghosa said: “This is a recognition of my status as one of the leading scholars of international law and Sustainable Development Goals in the Global South, and it will provide me with an opportunity to engage in knowledge exchange and research impact events in both Nigeria and the UK.”

Creative and Cultural Industries

Academic's partnership production wins Mainframe Award

Senior Lecturer and MA Applied Theatre and Education Programme Leader Ava Hunt won the Creativity for Good category at the Mainframe Awards 2022.

The awards celebrate digital and creative businesses in Derby and Derbyshire. Ava won her award for Destinies, a theatre and music production filmed over two years during the pandemic. The production is a partnership between Ava Hunt Theatre, Sinfonia Viva and Orchestras Live, and co-created with young people and Derbyshire County Council Virtual School. It tells the stories of young refugees and asylum seekers living in Derbyshire.

Ava said: “Winning this award is so important. The journey that the young people went on was enormous. For those young people to stand on stage and receive the award with me was a huge acknowledgement of their hard work, learning and creativity.”

Using the creative arts for impact

Dr Rhiannon Jones, Associate Professor (Civic), was appointed Chair of Project and Programming for New Art Exchange (NAE) in Nottingham. This is a ground-breaking, award-winning, internationally recognised creative space which promotes excellence in culturally diverse contemporary arts through exhibitions, events and engagement initiatives.

Rhiannon is CEO and Creative Director of Social Higher Education Depot (S.H.E.D), the University’s first spin-out company. She was invited by the Design Council UK to design a bespoke S.H.E.D installation for Design for Planet at the V&A Dundee. The installation, timed to coincide with the COP26 conference in Glasgow, was themed around climate change. The project included a workshop with local Dundee schools on the topic of climate change, a pledge wall to capture pledges from design leaders, and a sound pod with podcasts created by young people aged 6-18 on the subject of climate change.

A group of people holding placards and illustrations

Data Science

Cyber Security Professor in national collaboration

Fatih Kurugollu, Professor of Cyber Security, has been selected to the Expert Fellows Community of the Security, Privacy, Identity, Trust, Engagement, Network+ (SPRITE+) hub, which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences [HT1] Research Council (EPSRC) and is managed by the University of Manchester, Queen’s University Belfast, Imperial College, University of Southampton, Lancaster University and UK Research and Innovation.

The hub brings together representatives from academic and non-academic communities to collaborate on issues around security, privacy and identity with a focus on digital platforms.

Fatih said: “I am delighted to participate in the SPRITE+ hub. I believe this will help us not only disseminate our research findings in the cyber security community, but also develop fruitful collaborations with academia and industry.” 

Leading conversations on artificial intelligence

Farid Meziane, Professor of Data Science, was appointed co-chair of the International Conference on the Application of Natural Language to Information Systems (NLDB2022) in Valencia. The annual conference explores the many applications of natural language processing, the branch of artificial intelligence concerned with giving computers the ability to understand text and spoken words in much the same way that humans can. This area has seen some exciting and game-changing advancements thanks to the latest developments in Deep Learning and Data Science. Farid has also led a successful bid to hold the 2023 conference at the University of Derby.

Farid was also a guest speaker at the Midlands Obesity Symposium organised by the Association for the Study of Obesity. At the event, held at the Museum of Making in Derby, he talked about the potential uses of artificial intelligence in healthcare and obesity.

Public Services

Nursing academic awarded Queen's Nurse status

Louise Boole, Senior Lecturer in Post-registration Healthcare, has been awarded Queen’s Nurse status. This is awarded to recognise nurses’ commitment to quality care, advocacy for individuals, families and carers and to leadership, learning and development.

Louise’s professional interests are around District Nursing and District Nurse education, as well as long-term condition management, especially dementia and frailty. She is an advocate of interprofessional learning as key to providing holistic care to improve quality of life.

Academic leads international long Covid studies

Dr Mark Faghy, Associate Professor in Respiratory Physiology, is leading influential international investigations to increase understanding and awareness of long Covid. He is a core member of the Healthy Living for Pandemic Event Protection (HL-Pivot) international network and the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) Public Advisory and External Affairs Committee.

Mark is a respected authority on Covid and long Covid and is in regular demand as a speaker. Over the year he has been invited to speak at many in-person and online events, including the BASES 2021 annual conference, on the lessons Sport and Exercise Sciences can learn from Covid-19, and the American College of Sports Medicine’s international learning collaborative on Engaging Healthcare Providers in Clinical Research. He led an international writing group on behalf of HL-Pivot, with an article published in Science Direct, and spoke to the Long Covid Podcast about his research in May. 

Scientists in a laboratory wearing face masks

Zero Carbon

Professor highlights biodiversity issues

Following a government nomination, Miles Richardson, Professor of Human Factors and Nature Connectedness, was invited by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES) to be a lead author on their global transformative change assessment. The objective of this assessment is to understand and identify factors that may be used to bring about transformative change for the conservation, restoration and wise use of biodiversity.

Miles also created an innovative set of biodiversity stripes, based on the climate stripes created by Professor Ed Hawkins at the University of Reading in 2018. The biodiversity stripes highlight the decline in biodiversity between 1970 and the present day, which according to the Living Planet Index is 69%. The stripes have proved very popular and were used in a Greenpeace t-shirt design among other things.

International contributions to coral reef research

Michael Sweet, Professor in Molecular Ecology, has been continuing his work on coral reef restoration. He was part of a UK government-funded team who travelled to the Red Sea Research Centre base at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudia Arabia to share knowledge and insights.

Michael also attended the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow as a representative of the International Coral Reef Society.

A person looking at a fish in a tank