Showcasing our academic expertise

The University is home to many inspirational academics with a host of expertise and knowledge.

In this section, we explore some of the successes of our academics at Derby, the impact they have made across the institution and within their specialist fields, as well as their work in helping to address societal challenges such as Alzheimer's disease and Covid-19.

Derby academics making a significant impact

Throughout the year, our staff have been using their academic and professional expertise and knowledge to make a real difference. From working to improve the lives of carers for people with dementia, to producing guidance on haemochromatosis, Derby academics have been making a significant impact across a variety of disciplines.

iconDerby academic made a National Teaching Fellow**Emma Hyde
icon300 delegates attended the Festival of Learning 2020
iconLaunched The Covid Talks series to explore how Covid-19 has affected the world

Awards, appointments and achievements

National Teaching Fellowship awarded to Derby academic

Emma Hyde, the University of Derby's Head of Diagnostic Imaging, was made a National Teaching Fellow earlier in 2020.

The National Teaching Fellowship Scheme, run by Advance HE, recognises individuals who have made an outstanding impact on student outcomes and the teaching profession in higher education.

Before moving into academia as a lecturer in 2003, Emma spent 10 years working as a diagnostic radiographer in various NHS trusts within the East Midlands.

In addition to teaching and undertaking research at the University, Emma oversaw the loan of an ultrasound scanner and x-ray machine from the University to hospitals in Chesterfield and Derby earlier this year to help ease the pressure on their resources at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I am honoured to be have been made a National Teaching Fellow, having always been passionate about teaching and research, especially in respect of the student experience in clinical placement and patient-centred care," said Emma.

"I very much enjoy the time I spend with students, and with my team, supporting them to become active researchers, to promote the work they produce and to make important contributions to our discipline. I feel privileged to be able to share my values and beliefs with students, and to help them to become highly skilled radiographers who put the patient at the heart of what they do."

Read the full story about Emma's award

Occupational Therapy lecturer nominated for national award

Sian Burgess, Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy, was shortlisted for the Most Innovative Teacher of the Year accolade in the Times Higher Education Awards 2020.

Nominated by a Derby graduate, Sian was put forward for her passion, enthusiasm, and commitment to her discipline of Occupational Therapy, helping to ensure that students have the best possible academic and clinical experience.

In the award submission, the nominator focused on the opportunities Sian creates for her students, the research she facilitates and her dedication to motivating and nurturing students.

Sian has been instrumental in launching the University's Cohort Integration Project, which pairs second and third-year students with first-year students so they can share knowledge and experiences.

Sian's nomination in the THE Awards was one of three awards the University was shortlisted for, including University of the Year and the Technological or Digital Innovation of the Year category.

Speaking at the time of the announcement back in September 2019, Vice-Chancellor Professor Kathryn Mitchell, said: "As a TEF Gold university, the culture of teaching excellence plays a crucial role in enhancing and enriching our academic delivery, nurturing productive links between teaching, research and professional practice."

Derby academic appointed honorary professor of international university

David McGravie, Head of the University's School of Arts and Deputy Dean for the College of Arts, Humanities and Education, was appointed an Honorary Professor of Beihai University of Art and Design in China.

Beihai has around 13,000 creative arts students across art, design media and performance areas and is working in partnership with the University of Derby. It is hoped this connection will help support student mobility and progression to Derby.

"I would like to think that Beihai University of Art and Design have in part awarded me the Honorary Professorship on the basis of my strong advocacy for transnational education work across many markets and countries over the last 15 years or so," said David. "This has necessitated many visits to Russia, Norway, Malaysia, USA, Canada, India, Japan and China to name but a few.

"The partnership with Beihai University of Art and Design will be significant for us both from a transnational education and a cultural perspective. Importantly, it will also facilitate increased recruitment to Derby and provide opportunities for UK students to visit China."

Education appointments 

Several staff within the Institute of Education at the University have been appointed to positions helping to positively impact the University’s status within the field of education.  

Head of the University’s International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS), Dr Siobhan Neary, is the academic chair for the Workforce of the Future Inquiry, currently being conducted by Policy Connect. The Inquiry has undertaken a first call for evidence and is engaging with a wide range of employers, education and guidance stakeholders to inform recommendations to be launched in early 2021. Siobhan has also been appointed academic chair for an inquiry into career advice guidance for FE young people and adults in precarious employment.  

In addition, Professor Deborah Robinson has been appointed member of the Editorial Board for Education and Employment for the British Journal of Learning Difficulties, and Hayley Wood has been asked to sit on the Enterprise Education group. 

Teaching and Learning

Festival of Learning

This year's Annual Festival of Learning - an event held to showcase the diverse approaches to learning and teaching at Derby - saw 300 delegates take part in a three-day virtual event.

Due to Covid-19, the festival, which was packed with academic, student and employer keynote speakers, was held remotely. This year, the event focused on six key themes:

Eleven live sessions were held, with a further 44 asynchronous sessions delivered by staff and students. Workshops were also delivered to ensure preparedness for high-quality teaching across different modes of delivery, to complement an online facilitated staff development programme.

Derby rises up the rankings in National Student Survey

Teaching, academic support and learning resources were just a few of the areas Derby improved in this year's National Student Survey (NSS).

The University rose 38 places in the national rankings, achieving a rating of 85 percent overall student satisfaction in the NSS - the high-profile annual census of nearly half a million final year students across the UK, commissioned by the Office for Students.

As well as achieving 100% overall satisfaction in 14 subject areas, Derby's 2020 satisfaction rate saw it rise to 55th in the national rankings, out of 155 UK higher education institutions.

The University credited closer working with student representatives after increasing its scores in the key areas of teaching, assessment and feedback, academic support, learning resources, and student voice.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Kathryn Mitchell said: "The result is testament to listening closely to the needs of our students, the dedication of our staff and the high-quality teaching at Derby that has earned national recognition as a TEF Gold institution."

Helping tackle societal challenges

Improving the lives of carers for people with Alzheimer's disease

Academics at the University are part of a three-year project aimed at improving the daily life of informal caregivers for people with Alzheimer's disease.

The University of the Derby is the only UK university involved in the Co-Care project, which brings together universities, ICT professionals, the health and social care sector and users of ICT-based Alzheimer care solutions.

Researchers at the University have partnered with the Alzheimer's Society and Derby-based e-learning development agency, Marked Improvement, to work with organisations from across Europe to advance the design of ICT solutions created for carers to improve the quality of the care they provide, give them a chance to network and help them to stay healthy.

Jamie Bird, who is part of Derby's team of researchers working on the project, said: "This project aims to tackle the challenges in the sector by ensuring technology is designed in a way that specifically addresses the carer or end user's needs, in a way that helps them embrace the technology."

Read more about the Co-Care project and the University's involvement.

Derby's expertise helps health charity shape guide to improve vital treatment

The work of Derby academic Gerri Mortimore has helped a UK health charity launch a guide which could improve vital treatment for one of the UK's most common hereditary conditions.

Gerri, who is a Lecturer in Post-Registration Health Care at the University, has worked with Haemochromatosis UK to help nursing staff treat people with haemochromatosis, which affects an estimated 400,000 people across the UK.

The condition is caused by the storing of too much iron in the body, which can result in liver, heart and pancreatic problems.

Treating the condition involves taking blood from a patient at regular intervals to bring iron levels down. However, differing guidance for nurses and healthcare professionals to follow has raised concerns about consistency of care for patients.

Gerri, along with Yvonne Francis, of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust in London, worked with Haemochromatosis UK and obtained the endorsement of the Royal College of Nursing to produce a single set of nurse-led guidelines for venesection best practice.

"Treatment needs to delivered in the same way in every hospital in the country, so that nursing staff and healthcare professionals are clear about the most effective way of caring for patients," she said. "That can then help manage the condition and reduce the prospect of it causing more serious complications with their health in future. It also provides patients with the assurance that wherever they live in the UK, they will receive the same high levels of care."

In 2019, Gerri was appointed as a Medical Adviser for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Genetic Haemochromatosis (Iron Overload).

The Covid Talks - using academic expertise to understand the impact of coronavirus

Coronavirus and the impact it has had on the world has been the focus of a series of virtual events led by the University.

The Covid Talks, which are continuing in this academic year, draw on the expertise and knowledge of our academic staff to explore how the pandemic has affected the areas taught at the University, as well as key sectors across the globe.

The first event, which took place in August, debated the question 'A footnote in history or a pandemic that changed the future?', while the second focused on how current buildings and spaces have been altered to aid the fight during the pandemic.

Read more about The Covid Talks series.

Impact of climate change 

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the University of Education, Winneba, in Ghana to support collaborative research projects. Research will focus on the impact of climate change on costal villages and habitats. Led by Dr Sian Davies-Vollum, Head of School for Built and Natural Environment at the University, the collaboration will capitalise on research into sedimentology, human geography, biodiversity and climate change. 

Tackling inequalities in physical activity 

Dr Clare Roscoe, Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity and Health, and Dr Niamh Reilly, Lecturer and Online Tutor, together with Jessica Jackson, from the College of Health, Psychology and Social Care, have been successful in securing a £20k grant from Public Health England to research Understanding and addressing inequalities in physical activity. The aim of the project is to identify the inequalities in physical activity in individuals in the East Midlands area and to see what interventions are in place to overcome these inequalities.