Academic Impact

Showcasing our academic expertise

Our academics play a key role in driving forward the University’s strategic objectives and longer-term ambition through their research, knowledge exchange, innovation and expertise. From award wins and research successes, to supporting major projects in advisory roles, influencing policy and leading on key events, our academics are crucial to Derby’s success.

Within our Strategic Framework, we emphasise the importance of supporting students during their time at Derby to become the next generation of game changers. This is achieved through our industry-connected and research-active academics who are able to share their experiences and create opportunities for our students.

two researchers working on study with plants

Academics making a difference

In this section, we explore some of the successes of our academics at Derby, and the positive impact they have had both within the University and on society more broadly.

iconNurse of the Year at the British Journal of Nursing Awards 2021 **Gerri Mortimore
iconWinner of Children and Young People Now’s Arts and Culture Award **Ava Hunt
iconDerby one of four national hubs for Being Human Festival

Awards, advisory roles and achievements

Nurse of the Year accolade for Derby lecturer

Senior Lecturer Gerri Mortimore was named Nurse of the Year at the British Journal of Nursing Awards 2021.

Gerri, who is a Lecturer in Advanced Practice at Derby, shares the accolade with colleague Yvonne Francis from the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. In the award entry, the pair highlighted their work with Haemochromatosis UK and research into venesection, a clinical procedure involving the removal of a volume of blood which is undertaken to treat thousands of patients across the country with genetic haemochromatosis, polycythaemia vera, idiopathic and secondary erythrocytosis.

The project culminated in the Venesection Best Practice Guidelines, the only resource specific to this subject.

Gerri said: “I am honoured to have won the Nurse of the Year Award. It is a culmination of three years’ work to support the care of adult patients undergoing therapeutic venesection. I would like to thank Haemochromatosis UK and everyone who has been involved in developing this valuable resource, which has been recognised for its significance by the Royal College of Nursing who have endorsed the guidance.”

Academic research used in National Trust guide showing pathways to a stronger connection with nature

Research from the University of Derby’s Nature Connectedness Research Group has devised five ‘pathways’ which the National Trust is using to help people form a stronger connection with nature.

The guide, ‘Nature & Me’, explores the research and how the pathways framework has been used to design activities at National Trust locations to enhance people’s engagement with nature.

Professor Miles Richardson, who leads the Nature Connectedness Research Group, said: “Our relationship with nature is critical at a time when we are trying to address climate change and the loss of wildlife, because a greater connection with nature inspires people to be more protective of it.

“The connection we form with nature does not depend on how much time we spend in the countryside. It is about a close attachment to nature, which benefits our mental wellbeing too.”

Award for academic who uses theatre to explore stories of asylum seekers

Senior Lecturer in Theatre Arts Ava Hunt won the Children and Young People Now’s Arts and Culture Award for her theatrical telling of the stories of young asylum seekers.

Ava was presented with the award for her project ‘Journey of Destiny’ and its companion piece ‘Destinies’. The work focused on the experiences of asylum seekers, both in Australia and here in Derbyshire.

‘Journey of Destiny’ was developed with Arts Council England and Foundation Derbyshire and toured schools throughout the East Midlands, reaching an audience of more than 2,000 people. It aimed to highlight the experience of young refugees and build an understanding of the emotional resilience required to adapt, accept change and, ultimately, succeed in life.

‘Destinies’ focused on the experiences of 12 young asylum seekers in Derbyshire, who co-created and performed in the piece.

Ava said: “I'm absolutely thrilled to win this award. The other projects that were shortlisted were all really strong, so I sat with my hand over my face waiting for the winner to be announced. This award is the result of the hard work of so many artists, young people, students and our partners.”

Impacting the future of the high street

Professor Carley Foster, Professor of Services Marketing and Head of the Centre for Business Improvement, acted as an advisor to Derby City Council's successful Future High Streets Fund application.

As a result of the bid, Derby will receive £15 million in government funding to support city centre regeneration. 

Carley, who has been ​an advisor for the project since Autumn 2019, said: “​I was able to support the Council to ensure that it put the strongest case forward. It's really pleasing to see that the University can work collaboratively with organisations like the Council and other stakeholders to help secure much-needed funding to regenerate the city centre.”

Carley continues to serve on the Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District (BID) as a Board Member and Director and has recently joined the Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire Board.

Watch Carley’s Inaugural Lecture, ‘Retail in the Community: Beyond the Buyer-Seller Transaction’.

Conferences and events

Derby acts as national hub for Being Human Festival

The University was selected as one of only four hubs nationwide to host events as part of major humanities festival, Being Human.

Academics from the University and students from the BSc (Hons) Lights, Sound and Live Events Technology course led on the event, which took place in November 2020.

Being Human is a multi-city humanities festival led by the University of London, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

The University hosted a series of free online events where Derbyshire residents could discover local history, geography and literature, which connects the city with the rest of the world.

Dr Cath Feely, Senior Lecturer in History and co-ordinator of the Derby Hub, said: “Being awarded the status of a Being Human Festival of the Humanities national hub was the result of a very competitive application process, with Derby only one of four universities to be chosen, and the only post-92 institution.

“The funding allowed researchers across the School of Humanities to work with key partners, including Derby Museums, Derbyshire Record Office, Derby Local Studies and Family History Library, Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and the National Trust, to create a series of digital events and podcasts that explored stories of exploration, empire and exploitation in museum and archive collections.

“This included engaging people with making their own scrapbooks and mini-museums, as well as accessible conversations with artists and researchers. Not only did this highlight our research on an international scale (with praise coming from as far away as Canada) but it has led to the development of several new projects and funding bids with our partners.”

Academics host digital conference as part of FORMAT21 festival

Artists from across the world presented at a digital conference, organised and hosted by University academics, as part of FORMAT21, the UK’s leading international contemporary festival of photography.

Dr Philip Harris and Gemma Marmalade, both Senior Lecturers in Media, hosted the event, which saw a variety of contemporary researchers, photographers and artists meet virtually to explore the theme of ‘control’.

The event, which took place in March and kicked-off the FORMAT Festival calendar, followed on from the experimental research festival conference held at the University of Derby’s Markeaton Street site for FORMAT in 2019.

Derby Small Business Conference 2021

Dr Salman Ahmad, Lecturer in Business and Management, supported by various colleagues from within the Education team, initiated and organised the Derby Small Business Conference 2021, commissioned through the University’s Professorial Council to mark the United Nations’ Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Day.

The virtual conference, which took place in June 2021, aimed to understand the impact of Covid-19 on Micro, Small and Medium-Sized enterprises.

Dr Ahmad said: “The conference was a great success featuring a range of rich and diverse speakers from all over the globe, including the USA, Malaysia, Pakistan, Romania, UK, Armenia and France and we were delighted that some 346 participants registered from over 49 countries.”

In addition to this, Dr Ahmad was highly commended in the British Academy of Management Education (BAM) Practice Award 2021 for the development of the ‘Combining Adult Learning Theory with Lean Start-up Methodology for enhanced entrepreneurship education in online learning environment’ initiative. The initiative was designed to create a new entrepreneurial module for online students.

International perspectives shared through criminology conference

The University’s School of Law and Social Sciences co-hosted a British Society of Criminology Midlands regional online conference about international perspectives on desistance and rehabilitation.

The event drew an online audience of almost 300 people. Vice-Chancellor Professor Kathryn Mitchell opened the conference, and the audience listened to keynote speakers from Canada and Belgium, as well as from the University’s own researchers.

Professor Stephen Farrall, Research Professor in Criminology, explored research around ‘Agency and Structure in Processes of Desistance and Persistence’, and Professor David Best, Research Professor in Criminology, discussed research around ‘Measuring Pathways to Change: Recovery capital to institutional justice capital’.

Academic excellence

University part of global research team to reduce plagiarism internationally

Dr Shivadas Sivasubramaniam, Head of Biomedical and Forensic Science at the University, is leading Derby’s involvement in a university-based global research project on an international intervention for the prevention of plagiarism.

The global research team received a $2.5 million grant, awarded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, which will fund a seven-year project to establish a University Partnership on Plagiarism Prevention (PUPP). The team will focus on how university students think about, use, and misuse digital sources in academic writing.

The project is made up of 59 researchers and collaborators from various disciplines, across 34 partner institutions, and is being led by Led by Martine Peters, Professor at the University of Quebec in Outaouais.

Dr Sivasubramaniam, who is an active researcher in developing novel approaches in teaching biomedical sciences, including academic integrity/plagiarism deterrence and medical ethics, said: “I am delighted that University of Derby is part of the PUPP project and the important work that the partnership will be doing to reduce plagiarism internationally.”

Read more about the project here. 

Derby academics ranked among world’s most highly-cited scientists

Eight members of staff at Derby have been ranked among the most highly-cited scientists in the world.

Stanford University and Elsevier created a database of 160,000 top scientists, providing data on the global influence of academic study using a variety of impact metrics such as: citations, h-index and the co-authorship hm-index.

Data was analysed for career-long and single year (2019) impact. The research analysed data across 22 disciplines over a period of ten years, between 1996 and 2019.

The following academics were included in the top 4% of scientists (based on the citation year 2019)

Derby academics involved in ambitious project which seeks to understand how aquatic species thrive together

The University has become part of a new collaboration to sequence the genetic codes of 1,000 aquatic species to understand how these organisms have changed to depend on each other for survival.

The Aquatic Symbiosis Project involves the University, the Wellcome Sanger Institute, a world-leading genome research organisation, and the US-based grant-making body The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. It empowers researchers to answer important questions about the ecology and evolution of symbiosis, where two different species live in very close association in marine and freshwater ecosystems, at a time when biodiversity is being lost at an alarming rate. 

Dr Michael Sweet, Associate Professor of Aquatic Biology at the University, who is involved in the Coral Symbiosis Genome Project element, said: “This new and exciting project aims to increase the number and quality of reference genomes available to the wider coral community of both the host corals and their symbiotic algae. A specific goal of the Coral Symbiosis Genome Project is to compare the genomes of the corals symbionts and those which are free-living, often found in reef sediments and the water column for example.

“From this we hope to identify key adaptations associated with symbiosis in this important group of micro-organisms.”