News in brief

3 November 2015

Kind-hearted doctor urges locals to put on their walking boots

Dr Tim Chico

A world-leading cardiologist from the University of Sheffield is donning his walking boots and urging others to take part in the High Peaks Winter Hike for the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

BHF funded researcher Dr Tim Chico is calling on people from across the city to take part in the 17 mile route which follows the former Cromford and High Peak railway, on Sunday 15th November 2015.

Dr Chico and his team from the University’s Department of Cardiovascular Science are dedicated to research which could help mend broken hearts. They are studying zebrafish that unlike humans, can repair their own hearts after they become damaged.

Studying these amazing specimens could ultimately lead to new treatments to help over half a million people who are debilitated by heart failure, often caused by a heart attack. Heart attacks kill nearly 2,200 people prematurely1 each year in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Dr Tim Chico, consultant cardiologist and BHF funded researcher at the University of Sheffield, said: “Donations power our research so we’re enormously grateful to all the BHF’s supporters who take on a challenge to bring in the pounds.

“BHF fundraisers have just enabled the charity to contribute £243,000 towards a new state-of-the-art microscope at the University of Sheffield. With this new piece of equipment we can study zebrafish embryos which are transparent, as well as individual cells and tissues in minute detail.

“I’m hugely proud of being funded by the BHF and am very grateful to everyone who signs up for this challenge; they are making a real contribution to help find treatments for people with heart disease. I am confident that research from groups like ours will ultimately lead to new treatments for patients”.

The researchers believe this new equipment will help Sheffield become an internationally recognised centre for zebrafish research.

The BHF is the largest independent funder of heart research in the UK; in 2014 the charity invested more than £100 million in research funding scientists at more than 50 different research locations in the UK – including Sheffield.

To find out how you can take part visit:

28 October 2015

University appoints new Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health

Pam shawThe University of Sheffield has announced the appointment of Professor Dame Pamela Shaw as the new Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health. 

Professor Dame Pamela is currently Director of the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neurosciences (SITraN) and was made a Dame in 2014 in recognition for her internationally-recognised contribution to neurosciences, and particularly through the pioneering work she leads at SITraN.

During her eminent career Dame Pamela has supervised the research training of over 100 colleagues and generated over £52 million in research funding. She has also held a wide range of senior clinical and leadership roles in regional and national centres in her areas of research.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett commented: “I am absolutely delighted that Professor Dame Pamela has agreed to lead the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health, and I am sure that she will be a tremendous asset in our work together.

"As Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Medicine, Dentistry and Health, Pam will unite her enormous sense of vision and purpose with the strengths of our University and excellent-rated Teaching Hospital Trust.”

Professor Dame Pamela added: "I take up this role from my colleague Professor Tony Weetman who has led the Medical School and then the Faculty for the last 16 years. As a result of his leadership, I will be inheriting a very successful Faculty, with an award-winning team of professional services staff; research teams in biomedical sciences that were top-ranked in the most recent national Research Exercise Framework; a happy and well-supported cohort of students who ranked Sheffield very highly in the recent National Student Survey; and some wonderful new research facilities including the NIHR funded Clinical Research Facility for Experimental Medicine and the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 2010.

Professor Dame Pamela will take up the role of Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health from 4 January 2016 and will work with Professor Tony Weetman to ensure a smooth transition.

Professor Sir Keith added: "I would also like to offer my thanks to Professor Weetman who has demonstrated an enormous commitment to thel University over his many years in leading the Medical School and in the past eight years as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty. He has made a real difference in the world of clinical and higher education leadership and as a member of the University’s Executive Board, and we wish him the very best in his retirement."

Professor Weetman will continue his role with the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust Board and other senior commitments until his retirement during the summer of 2016

27 October 2015

University of Sheffield to serve as hub for national humanities festival

The University of Sheffield has been chosen as one of five hubs for Being Human 2015, the UK’s only national festival of the humanities.

The University will co-ordinate a series of public events involving its researchers and external partners, under the banner Seeing Human, from November 11-22 2015.

Seeing Human explores representations and perceptions of the humanities across the visual arts, music, speech and film.

Events include a look at the concept of a well lived life with philosopher Professor Angie Hobbs, award-winning folk singer Fay Hield staging an exploration of what it is to be human as expressed in song, and a Cyberselves exhibition where visitors can experience cyber-worlds with cutting edge technology

The programme has been made possible by a grant from the festival organisers, the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Now in its second year, Being Human is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and the British Academy (BA) with support from the Wellcome Trust.

As a hub, the University of Sheffield will not only be coordinating festival activities but will be putting forward Professor Angie Hobbs, as its ambassador to champion the festival.

Professor Hobbs is the Professor for the Public Understanding of the Past at the University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Her research interests lie in ancient philosophy, ethics and literature and she makes regular media appearances on TV and radio where she uses this research to address contemporary challenges such as the ethics of war, the ethics of money, how best to promote inter-faith and faith-secular dialogue and the notion of fairness.

She said: “I am delighted to be the Being Human 2015 ambassador for the University of Sheffield. We have planned a varied programme of events for the people of Sheffield, featuring the very best of our research in exciting and innovative ways.

“The University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Sheffield is thrilled to join the other four hubs, as well as all those institutions contributing events to the Festival, in championing the work that we do to a wide audience and inviting lively debate about what the humanities can contribute to the world.”

Seeing Human will be part of an 11 day national programme of big ideas, big debates and engaging activities for all ages. The festival will inform, extend and ignite contemporary thinking and imagination around the humanities.

Events in Sheffield include:

Home is… | Thursday 12 November – Sunday 22 November

This exhibition of photographs by Gemma Thorpe, in collaboration with the University of Sheffield academic Richard Steadman-Jones, illustrates home in its many and varied forms, working with people in the city to define their notion of what home means.

The portrait and identity | Thursday 12 November

Spend an evening in one of the galleries of Sheffield’s beautiful Graves Art Gallery with art historian and art curator exploring how we think about portraits and what they tell us about ourselves.

Seeing human in song | Friday 13 November

Drawing from her new album, ‘Old Adam’, the award-winning folk singer and University of Sheffield ethnomusicologist Fay Hield brings together other academics and cartoonists, storytellers and poets in what promises to be a lively discussion, peppered with song, poetry and stories

Animating poetry: workshop for 14-19 year olds | Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 November

This two-day workshop, for young people aged between 14–1, will use the new poemfilm Questions of Travel – based on an Elizabeth Bishop poem of the same name – as a starting point to explore a range of creative skills and make a short animation.

Let’s discover stained glass | Saturday 14 November

Come and discover the art of stained glass at Sheffield Cathedral in this family, child-friendly art activity. Be inspired by the Cathedral’s famous Lantern Window and have a go at making your own stained glass window.

A life well lived? | Tuesday 17 November

In discussion, Angie Hobbs, professor for the public understanding of philosophy at the University of Sheffield speaks for the human while Robert McKay, senior lecturer in the School of English, provides a perspective based on his work on human-animal relations.

Intoxicants in the Sheffield Tap | Thursday 19 November

Join us for a night in the pub with Dr Angela McShane (V&A) and Lucie Skeaping, musician and presenter of Radio 3’s Early Music Show, to explore drinking in history and song from the 16th-19th centuries.

Cyberselves exhibition | Thursday 19 November

The Cyberselves exhibition encourages visitors to experience cyber-worlds with cutting edge technology and be involved in debates around cyber-spaces’ affect on our conceptions of self.

For more information, or to book tickets, visit:

13 October 2015

Power to the North? Debate examines political and economic future of region

A high-profile panel of MPs and experts will debate topics including devolution, the Northern Powerhouse and metro mayors during a public event at the University of Sheffield.

The Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) will host Power to the North, where key figures in politics and academia will discuss whether further powers should be devolved to Northern England and, if so, in what form.

The panelists will be:

  • David Davis MP, Conservative MP for Haltemprice and Howden
  • Lisa Nandy MP, new Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change & Labour MP for Wigan
  • Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • Ben Lucas, founding partner of Metro Dynamics & member of the RSA City Growth Commission
  • Dr Craig Berry, Deputy Director of SPERI

Dr Craig Berry, Deputy Director of SPERI, said: “The UK is facing radical and rapid constitutional change and Sheffield and the North are at the epicentre of this potential transformation. The Government’s Northern Powerhouse agenda is leading to new powers being devolved but many of the discussions that lead to the changes are held behind closed doors. This event will provide a public discussion of these potential changes and a debate about the political and economic future of Northern England.”

The event is hosted by SPERI , in collaboration with the Sheffield Urban Institute, as part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Festival of Social Sciences.

Power to the North is being held at the Sheffield Students’ Union Auditorium from 6pm-8pm. To register to attend, visit

30 September 2015

Chance to meet Man Booker Prize shortlisted author at the University of Sheffield

Award-winning American author Karen Joy Fowler is visiting the University of Sheffield to discuss one of her most acclaimed books as part of a Man Booker prize event.

The novelist will make a very rare visit to the city from her home in California to talk about her Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel 'We are All Completely Beside Ourselves' at the University’s Octagon Centre on Wednesday, 7 October 2015.

The evening will include a reading from the book, which was shortlisted for the esteemed literary prize last year, and a question and answer session with the audience. Fowler will also be signing copies of her book.

The event is part of the Man Booker Prize Foundation’s Universities Initiative. The aim of the programme is to create a shared intellectual experience and point of debate.

All first-year undergraduate students at the University of Sheffield will receive a free copy of 'We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves' which details the story of a young woman’s attempts to come to terms with her unusual start in life.

Karen Joy Fowler is the author of six novels and three short story collections. The Jane Austen Book Club spent thirteen weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list and was a New York Times Notable Book. Fowler’s previous novel, Sister Noon, was a finalist for the 2001 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. Her debut novel, Sarah Canary, was a New York Times Notable Book, as was her second novel, The Sweetheart Season.

Tickets for the event are free and available from, Doors open at 5.30pm for a 6pm start.

11 September 2015

Court rolls open window to medieval Sheffield

Neighbours seizing each other’s land and women being fined for not ringing the snouts of their pigs are just some of the unusual disputes in medieval South Yorkshire, according to historians at the University of Sheffield.

For the past eight months, historians from the University have been working with volunteers and local groups from the Tinsley area of Sheffield, to examine previously untouched medieval court rolls revealing a fascinating insight into the area’s history.

Among the findings are details of a fourteenth century event at Tickhill castle at which lords, ladies and knights met with King John I for an evening of celebration and feasting, resulting in the King giving a mysterious bird to the Lord of Tickhill – a mystery which historians are still trying to uncover today.

Dr Charles West from the University of Sheffield’s Department of History said: “The documents we examined are records made by the local court in Tinsley which reveal all sorts of things about life in the area during medieval and early modern times.

“Many of the early documents are in Latin meaning that the collection was almost entirely inaccessible to current Tinsley residents and the local community. The aim of our project was to address this and make this unique window into Tinsley’s past more accessible.”

As part of the project, Elizabeth Goodwin and Laura Alston, two PhD students from the University of Sheffield, worked alongside Sally Rodgers from Heeley City Farm to transcribe documents relating to life in South Yorkshire between 1284 and 1805.

Elizabeth Goodwin added: “The involvement of women in what appear to have been predominately male-focused sources was very interesting to us. The court rolls feature women in positions of responsibility over fines, farming and animal care across the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries – such as the case of John de Methbeke and his wife Godosa who seized the land and property of Henry Drake and his wife Letita – the court was effectively thrashing out who held the rights to it.”

The documents, which have never been transcribed or translated before, have now been typed up and made freely available to members of the public at Sheffield Archives.

The project’s findings will be celebrated at a talk and evening reception at the University’s Humanities Research Institute next week (Wednesday 16 September 2015).

Sheffield alumna helps England to EuroHockey title

hollie-webbUniversity of Sheffield alumna and Commonwealth silver medallist Hollie Webb has helped England women’s hockey team win their first Euro title for 14 years.

England recovered from 2-0 down to beat the Netherlands in a penalty shootout at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, and go one better than the EuroHockey silver they won in 2013.

Hollie, 24, won silver with the England women’s hockey team at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. She studied Economics at Sheffield and was part of the University’s Elite Sports Performance Scheme (ESPS) which was launched in 2009 to provide financial and non-financial support to talented student athletes at the University.

Thanks to donations from the Alumni Fund and other donors the ESPS is able to offer a small number of athletes a scholarship of up to £1,000, which they can then use to help fund their training and competitions, allowing many students the chance to take part in training camps and events that they previously wouldn’t have been able to afford to attend.

Mr Miles Stevenson, Director of Alumni & Donor Relations for the University of Sheffield, said:

“It’s fantastic to see Hollie Webb rewarded for her hard work and continue to perform at the highest level as a key member of a brilliant England team.

“She is an inspiration to current students on the University’s Elite Sports Performance Scheme and we wish her all the best in the build up to Rio 2016.”

To find out more about the ESPS please visit the Elite Sports Performance Scheme website.

To find out more about the Alumni Fund and to see how your donations can make a huge difference to the lives of current students please visit the Alumni Fund web pages.

4 August 2015

University academics secure hat-trick of fellowships

Three academics from the University of Sheffield have been awarded prestigious research fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust – one of the UK’s largest research funding bodies.

Dr Katie Ellis (Sociology), Dr Philippa Tomczak (Law) and Dr Anna Krzywoszynska (Geography) have been awarded Early Career Fellowships by the Trust. It is the first time three academics within the Faculty of Social Science have been recognised in the same year.

The three-year fellowships aim to provide career development opportunities for those who are at a relatively early stage of their academic careers, but who have a proven record of research.

Professor Gill Valentine, Pro-Vice Chancellor in the Faculty of Social Sciences, said: “It is fantastic that the Leverhulme Trust has recognised three outstanding academics in this way. Each of them has already made a significant contribution in their respective disciplines and I wish them every success with these Fellowships as they begin the next stage of their careers.”

Dr Philippa Tomczak, who is currently a Research Associate based in School of Law's Centre for Criminological Research, will examine the regulation of prison suicide as part of her fellowship.

Dr Katie Ellis, who joins the Department of Sociological Studies in September 2015, will investigate care and love in the child welfare state and consider the notion of resilience in enabling young people to negotiate successful pathways out of care. She has been a member of the University’s Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth (CSCY) since 2004.

Dr Anna Krzywoszynska, who will join the Department of Geography in February 2016, has been awarded her fellowship to research the relationship between knowledge and action in farmers’ soil conservation.