News in brief

29 January 2015

World-class medical research at the University of Sheffield praised in national report

Allan PaceyWorld-class medical research from the University of Sheffield in the field of reproduction has been highlighted in a key report announced today (Thursday 29 January 2015).

The Health of the Nation: The impact of UK medical schools’ research report, published by the Medical Schools Council highlights pioneering projects from the universities of Sheffield, Leeds and Hull York Medical School, based at the University of York, as examples of research which have had a significant impact on societal health.

Professor Allan Pacey, from the Department of Human Metabolism at the University of Sheffield, has been recognised for his work examining the basic biological processes of human sperm transport through the male and female reproductive tracts.

The research from Professor Pacey and his team was developed into a film The Great Sperm Race, which was shown on television in 22 countries and was nominated for a Royal Television Society award and won a Canadian Society of Cinematographers award for best Docudrama amongst other accolades. It has now been watched more than 10.5 million times across the world.

Professor Pacey said: “Not only was it really rewarding to do this research, it was doubly rewarding to be able to help filmmakers turn our results into an epic and compelling television programme and game which continue to have global reach.

“Six years on from the The Great Sperm Race being first broadcast I still receive emails from people around the world who tell me that it increased their understanding of human fertility and sometimes how to deal with infertility.”

13 January 2015

Former Obama advisor to offer expert opinion on Sheffield’s economic growth

A former advisor to President Obama will be presenting a public lecture in Sheffield this month as part of a visit to boost the city’s economic growth.

The University of Sheffield has worked with Sheffield City Council and Creative Sheffield to organise the visit of Bruce Katz – an expert on the role of cities in growing the economy.

His visit is part of the new International Economic Commission designed to engage with leading policymakers from around the world in driving the city forward.

Mr Katz – who will also tour the University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre – regularly advises public, private and civic leaders on policy reforms and strategic investments that advance the competitiveness of cities and metropolitan areas.

He co-led the housing and urban transition team for the Obama Administration and previously served as Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Clinton.

Mr Katz, will be holding the talk ‘The Rise of Innovation Districts’ on Thursday, 15 January 2015 between 7.30pm and 8.30pm at Sheffield Cathedral on Church Street, Sheffield. Tickets are free, to book visit

9 January 2015

Nordic theme for University's spring concert series

Concerts at The University of Sheffield has today unveiled its new spring season – a series of 30 performances organised by the University's Department of Music.

The spring season is to explore a Nordic theme with a number of concerts celebrating some of the continent’s biggest artists.

Continuing Concerts’ tradition of dynamic programming and collaborations within the city, it reunites with Sheffield’s Showroom Cinema, screening a film by acclaimed artist Björk on Sunday 8 February 2015.

Biophilla Live was filmed on her last tour in 2013 and the screening will feature a talk from University of Sheffield academic Professor Nicola Dibben, who was personally contacted by the star to work as musicologist to help compose her critically acclaimed and international smash hit album Biophilla.

One of the world’s top harmonica players Will Pound, who was twice nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Musician of the Year Award, will make his debut at Concerts on Tuesday 24 February 2015, performing varying styles with his band from folk, jazz and rock, pop and funk.

Trevor Pinnock OBE is known the world over as an outstanding harpsichordist, conductor, recording artist and pioneer of the early music revival. With performances famed for their passion, energy and flare, Trevor returns to Sheffield on Sunday 1 March 2015 and to the city where he recorded his Gramophone Classical awarded rendition of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. He also makes a welcomed return to the University of Sheffield where he received his honorary doctorate in 2005.

The Sacconi Quartet will also showcase the works of two giants of Nordic music born 150 years ago: Carl Nielsen (Denmark) and Jean Sibelius (Finland) on Tuesday 14 April 2015.

Concerts’ Producer Stewart Campbell said: “Inspired by images of breath-taking natural beauty, and the anniversaries of two outstanding composers, the Nordic theme that permeates the season allows us to explore a number of diverse musically rich cultures.

“With internationally acclaimed performers, inspirational University of Sheffield research, collaborations with city partners, and education initiatives with schools in the region; this season is set to be an exciting and fascinating chapter in our offering as a Sheffield home for musical discovery and understanding.”

For tickets, or more information, visit

8 January 2015

University’s journalism department joins silent tribute to Charlie Hebdo attack victims

A minute's silence was held.Staff from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Journalism Studies have today (8 January 2015) joined a minute's silence to honour the victims of the Charlie Hebdo outrage in Paris.

The silence was called by the National Union of Journalists at 11am in response to yesterday’s apparent terror attack on the offices of the satirical magazine, in which 12 people died.

Members of the Department gathered on the steps of 9 Mappin Street to observe the silence, holding placards expressing solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo staff.

Joint Head of the Department of Journalism Studies, Professor Jackie Harrison, said: “The ability of journalists to undertake their work free of reprisal is central to a free press and attempts to stifle freedom of expression are a direct attack on the public's right to know.

"The murder of journalists in Paris isn’t an isolated incident and it is vital that work to protect journalists and to bring justice to those who threaten and attack them continues."

Professor Harrison is chairman of the Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFoM), a research centre based in the Department of Journalism Studies, which works to support journalists' safety and liberty.

23 December 2014

University's commitment to researchers of the future

The University of Sheffield is cementing its ongoing commitment to changing the world for the better by providing an exceptional work environment, not just for its current academics but also for future researchers.

The University’s Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) and its newly inaugurated Doctoral Academy are helping to ensure the research it does delivers real impact for the world through helping to train the researchers of the future.

In the recent Research Excellence Framework, published last week, the University was one of only three in the country to make 35 or more submissions in different subject areas.

Of the 35 submissions, 23 were judged to be in the top ten in the Russell Group for the quality of their research outputs. This breadth and depth has also been recognised by Research Councils UK, which has awarded significant funding for the University’s CDTs.

The University currently has 15 CDTs that reflect the breadth of its Doctoral provision.

From its Economic and Social Research Council funded Social Science CDT and White Rose College of Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH) with York and Leeds to its many science and engineering CDT, the University is ensuring it retains the research intensity across all disciplines that led to its success in the REF.

The University’s CDTs also provide an excellent opportunity for collaboration with business, industry and charitable organisations who wish to benefit from a thriving research environment and meet the research leaders of the future. Many partners now contribute both funding and training opportunities to the CDTs.

The University prides itself on providing internationally recognised research across many disciplines, affording all our researchers the opportunity to conduct interdisciplinary research.

To capitalise on these interdisciplinary opportunities the University launched its Doctoral Academy in 2014.

Professor Ian Douglas, Director of the Doctoral Academy, said: “Many of the world’s major research advances come from collaborative research across disciplines. It is the University’s mission to change the world for the better and we feel that our Doctoral Academy is the most effective way of maximising the impact of the activities of our young researchers by ensuring that all our doctoral researchers get the chance to work across disciplines”.

“Our CDT are already recruiting for 2015/26 entry and with our recent successes in both the REF and the Times Higher Awards we are expecting a great deal of interest from excellent students and we want to recruit the best.”

Anyone interested in applying to do a research degree at the University of Sheffield should visit:

19 December 2014

Research set to establish UK as manufacturing hub for nano-engineered materials and devices

The University of Sheffield has been given a slice of £2.65 million to establish the UK as a leading hub for the manufacture of advanced semiconductor materials.

The grant from the Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has been awarded to the universities of Sheffield, Bath, Bristol and Strathclyde, to fund equipment and researchers to develop advanced manufacturing techniques for nano-engineered semiconductors, a foundation of modern electronics.

A particular focus of the hub will be III-nitrides – semiconductors such as Gallium Nitrade (GaN) which underpin the emerging global solid state lighting and power electronics industries. The impact of these materials was recently recognised by the award of the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura, pioneers in the field.

Professor Tao Wang, Professor of Advanced Optoelectronics at the University of Sheffield, said: “I am delighted by this phenomenal support from EPSRC. It will play a vital role in scaling up laboratory-scale process of manufacturing III-nitride semiconductors to pilot scale, significantly benefiting both academia and industry in the UK through working closely with the experts in Bath, Bristol and Strathclyde and also a number of industrial partners.”

Professor Mike Hounslow, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield, added: “We are delighted to have received this award, which, combined with our exceptional record on advanced manufacturing techniques and semiconductors and our strategic academic and industrial partners, will enable us to be the UK world leader in this area.”

17 December 2014

Children’s use of apps studied to help parents and teachers

TabletWith almost 40 per cent of pre-school children in the UK now using tablets, a new study by the Universities of Sheffield and Edinburgh will examine how these youngsters use apps to learn and play.

University researchers will collaborate with the BBC children’s television channel CBeebies, development studio and consultancy Dubit, children's media company Founding Bird and Monteney Primary in Sheffield to explore how far tablet apps for 0-five year olds promote play and creativity.

The study, which is being funded by the Economic and Social Science Research Council, will begin in January 2015.

Professor Jackie Marsh from the University of Sheffield’s School of Education, who is leading the study, said: “We know that almost 40 per cent of pre-schoolers in the UK use tablets, but many parents and teachers say that they are not sure how to choose good apps for this age group.

“From our work, we aim to develop guidance on the features of apps that promote play, creativity and learning”.

The study will be completed in June 2015, along with guidance on choosing apps for parents and pre-school teachers.

Kay Benbow, Controller of Cbeebies, said: "It's hugely helpful to be working with partners to benefit from an academic lens on the work which will help us shape our future output and serve our audiences the best we possibly can."

Peter Robinson, head of research at Dubit, added: "We've seen how tablets are able to grab children's attention in ways that physical media isn't always able to do. We're looking forward to taking part in this project.

"The more we can understand how children use these devices, the more we can help to improve their entertainment and their education."

16 December 2014

University lecturer elected Vice President of Education at the British Institute of Radiology

Dr Elspeth WhitbyA senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield has been elected as the Vice President for Education at the British Institute of Radiology (BIR).

Dr Elspeth Whitby, from the Academic Unit of Reproductive and Developmental Medicine and Honorary Consultant at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, was elected as the Vice President for Education by the oldest radiological society in the world.

Within her new role Dr Whitby will be working to expand the education available outside London and develop diplomas, online courses, and accreditation programme and webinars.

Dr Whitby said: “With a new education strategy, the BIR is in a great position now to offer really exciting and innovative education and I am really looking forward to working with the team to develop some fantastic resources for multi-disciplinary working.”

After joining the BIR in 1994 as a radiology trainee Dr Whitby is currently the Northern Branch Chair and was awarded the BIR Flude Memorial Travelling Fellowship in 2003.

Her research interest of obstetric MR imaging allows her to develop new services for the benefit of patients and teach colleagues to help develop a nationwide service.

Dr David Wilson, President of the BIR, said: “We are thrilled to have Dr Whitby on board. She brings a wealth of expertise and experience, not to mention lots of energy and innovative ideas.”

11 December 2014

University welcomes 100 postgraduate scholarship students

Postgraduate student Ali Hayward received a scholarshipFive Sheffield residents are among 100 students to be awarded scholarships to study masters degrees at the University of Sheffield as part of a multi-million pound scheme to encourage under-represented groups into taught postgraduate education.

Ali Hayward, 50, who is a wheelchair user and lives in Gleadless, has been awarded a scholarship to undertake a masters English Literature degree in Creative Writing. Ali completed an undergraduate English Literature degree through the University of Sheffield’s Department for Lifelong Learning, and is now determined to take her passion for creative writing further.

“This university is amazing,” she said. "I'm not well enough to work and so there would have been no way I could have afforded to do a masters degree. I love creative writing and I’m hoping that this will allow me to teach, particularly those who missed out on education like I did.

"A university should reflect the city it’s in and it’s great to see Sheffield is taking such positive steps to widen participation."

Another Sheffield recipient is Amberly Richardson from Birley. After completing a psychology degree at Sheffield Hallam University she worked as a teaching assistant for three years.

"I wanted to do social work but just could not afford to do the two year Masters degree,” said 26-year-old Amberly. "There is a career development loan but that would mean getting into even more debt after my undergraduate degree so this scholarship has really opened the door for me."

Sheffield is the lead member of a consortium of six universities (Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Warwick and York) which secured £3m of HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) funding to support progression to postgraduate study. The project aims to test ways of supporting progression into taught postgraduate education by stimulating participation by students who would not otherwise progress to this level of study.

The successful scholars were selected from over 300 eligible applicants who applied for the scholarship offer which is the biggest postgraduate taught scholarship offer the country has ever seen.

An event to congratulate the scholars’ success in securing their award was held on Friday 28 November 2014 at the University’s Firth Hall. Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett welcomed the scholars and the Lord Mayor of Sheffield Councillor Peter Rippon was present and joined in the celebrations.

In his opening address, the Vice-Chancellor said: "This University was built by people who were determined that education should be in the reach of all those who had the talent to make the most of it. They believed that privilege and family wealth should not be the only things which determined opportunity. We still believe that."