News in brief

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.

4 August 2015

New Dean for the School of Clinical Dentistry at Sheffield

Professor Chris DeeryProfessor Chris Deery has become the new Dean of the University of Sheffield’s School of Clinical Dentistry.
The School is one of the best in the UK and Professor Deery hopes to lead it to even greater success, breaking down barriers and collaborating with key partners in the field.

Professor Deery, who is an Honorary Consultant of Paediatric Dentistry, has worked at the school since 2006. He has a number of roles and responsibilities at both the School and the adjoining Charles Clifford Dental Hospital including: Associate Clinical Director, Clinical Lead for Paediatric Dentistry and Deputy Director for Learning and Teaching.

He is also the Regional Dental Advisor for South Yorkshire and East Midlands from the Royal College of Surgeons of England and Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry.

Professor Deery said: “I am really looking forward to working with my unique group of colleagues here in Sheffield, whose research, teaching and clinical skills are second to none.

“It is also a huge honour to be the Dean of a School with such excellent undergraduate and postgraduate students, who are at the centre of everything the School does.”

Professor Deery succeeds Professor Paul Speight who will continue his full time academic role in the school, having completed an eight-year term of office.

31 July 2015

Leading businesses experience a taste of China

taste of chinaFrom modern international business etiquette to a traditional tea ceremony more than 120 guests got a ‘Taste of China’ with a difference at a business culture event at the University of Sheffield this week (28 July 2015).

Jointly organised by South Yorkshire International Trade Centre (SYITC), UKTI, the China Britain Business Council, Sheffield City Council, the Confucius Institute and the University of Sheffield, the informal Taste of China event featured music, meditation and calligraphy, as well as interactive workshops and informative presentations.

The event was opened by Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sheffield and Professor Yibin Zhang, Chancellor of Nanjing University, China.

Professor Yibin Zhang, who travelled from China to Sheffield, told guests the Confucius Institute at the University of Sheffield was the best among the nine jointly-built institutes as well as the most active.

Mr Yin Wang, Consul of General Consulate from Manchester, was also a distinguished guest at the event.
Nick Patrick, head of SYITC, said: “The evening was designed to look beyond the ‘nuts and bolts’ of international commerce and focus on the essential oils that lubricate trust and friendship with customers and contacts.
“The understanding of cultural differences is an important foundation in building up repeat orders, leading to long-term business relationships from which everybody benefits.”

Dr Lucy Xia Zhao and Professor Li Xiao of the Confucius Institute led workshops on Chinese business etiquette and Chinese fitness - Taiji and meditation. Members of staff from the Confucius institute also hosted a Chinese tea ceremony and chopstick competition, plus Chinese calligraphy and souvenir stalls.

The main theme of the event, held at the Octagon Centre, was the successful Great Ambassadors (China) Scheme, which is an innovative national pilot scheme run by the University of Sheffield’s Careers Service in partnership with UKTI.

Steve Fish, Careers Service Director at the University of Sheffield said: “The scheme seeks to identify Chinese speaking students or graduates to work on placements with UK companies who are developing trade links with China.

“We’re pleased so many companies attended the event and we were able to inform delegates about the scheme. The evening also offered great opportunities for some of our Chinese students to talk to employers from these organisations.”

27 July 2015

Major funding boost to help bladder cancer patients in Yorkshire

Dr James CattoScientists from the University of Sheffield have been awarded £750,000 for a pioneering project to help bladder cancer patients across the county.

The major investment by Yorkshire Cancer Research marks Bladder Cancer Awareness Month.

Researchers from the University will carry out both a major survey of all patients diagnosed with bladder cancer in Yorkshire – estimated to be more than 5,000 people - and a clinical trial to discover the best way to treat aggressive bladder cancer that has been found at an early stage.

The survey will be focused on discovering what matters most to patients, identifying gaps in care and establishing methods to improve their quality of life. This will be the first survey of its kind to target bladder cancer patients. The results, known as ‘patient reported outcomes’, could help patients choose their most suitable treatment option, guide future care by identifying the likely outcomes of specific treatments, and improve services by recognising good practice and areas where improvement is needed.

The clinical trial will compare two different kinds of treatments for aggressive, but not yet invasive bladder cancer. Patients with this cancer are usually treated by either immediate bladder removal, called a cystectomy, or a bladder-preserving therapy.

Bladder-preserving therapy is the standard approach and involves a three-year treatment plan, but only a third of patients complete the three-year course due to side effects and a quarter go on to need a cystectomy anyway, with worse outcomes.

Bladder cancer is particularly common in places like Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley, where incidence and mortality rates are higher than the national average. In 2014, the county had the lowest survival rate nationally, and there are also huge variations in outcomes across healthcare providers in Yorkshire.

Professor James Catto, Professor of Urology at the University of Sheffield, said: “Bladder cancer is a huge problem in Yorkshire. This funding will allow us to carry out two vital studies that will help us ensure patients have the very best possible experience after they are diagnosed, and ultimately help more people survive the disease.”

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20 July 2015

Sheffield is first university to receive prestigious accreditation for counselling service


The University of Sheffield’s Counselling Service (UCS) is the first university counselling service, and one of only seven organisations nationally, to be awarded a new quality assurance accreditation badge.

The free, confidential service, which is available to all students at the University, has been honoured through the Accreditation Programme for Psychological Therapy Services (APPTS) – a partnership between the Centre for Quality Improvement at the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Psychological Society.

It has been awarded an accreditation mark following a rigorous, externally audited process that included a self-review workbook with an audit of 56 quality standards, feedback from service users and therapists and an on-site peer review involving interviews with service users and staff.

UCS scored 100 per cent in all type one standards, which are considered to be essential for the safety and dignity of service users. The service also scored very highly in other areas, with 93 per cent overall for type two standards, which are more aspirational in nature.

This is a formal recognition of the high quality service which UCS offers, sitting within a broader framework of other excellent student services at the University, which has won a hat trick of Times Higher Education awards over the last few years for Outstanding Student Services Team, Outstanding Student Admissions Team and Outstanding Administrative Services Team.

Louise Knowles, Head of UCS, said: “The APPTS accreditation is a real achievement for our service and will increase the confidence of our student population in the clinical rigour of the service.

“At UCS we are committed to continually improving the quality and standard of the service we deliver, balancing this against increasing numbers accessing our service and looking at new and innovative ways of working with the student population. This accreditation mark recognises both the extremely short wait times, as well as our talented and clinically robust team who offer a varied range of treatments and interventions in a challenging environment.

“It is a privilege to be amongst a select few national psychological providers.”

UCS had a 100 per cent return rate from the 50 service users selected randomly to give feedback on the service, with a significant number of positive comments.

The audit report said: “The service is very patient-led, and received positive feedback on its flexibility, and compassionate approach. There is a short waiting time target of 10 days, which the service is usually able to meet. Work has gone into ensuring that the venue is pleasant and the waiting area is well stocked with self-help materials and information about local organisations and services which may be of interest to service users. A lot of helpful information is also available on the service's website.”

9 July 2015

Out of this world science lesson with Nobel Prize winner creates a big bang

KrotoScientists of tomorrow will venture on a voyage of discovery in an enthralling workshop hosted by an internationally renowned Nobel Prize winner and University of Sheffield graduate.

Professor Sir Harry Kroto, who is known world-wide as both a scientist and a charismatic motivator of young people, will present his innovative Buckyball Workshop to more than 50 pupils from the Yorkshire region next week.

Sir Harry was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1996 for his discovery of a new form of carbon: Buckminster Fullerene or more affectionately referred to as a Buckyball. Shaped like a traditional football, these carbon fullerene molecules are made of pentagons and hexagons. The breakthrough has previously been named by fellow academics as one of the ten most important discoveries made by their peers at UK universities in the past 60 years.

During the innovative workshop, the budding scientists of the future will make their very own models of the Buckyball using a specially provided kit. The aim of the activity is to give pupils the chance to learn about the Buckyball's interesting properties and relate these to properties of other structures made from carbon, including graphite which is used in pencils, diamond necklaces and rings.

Later in the day pupils, from schools including: Holy Trinity School, Royston St John the Baptist School and Carlton Primary School in Barnsley will don lab coats and roll up their sleeves in a wacky Polymer Slime workshop, hosted by the University's Department of Chemistry. The youngsters will create brightly coloured polymer slime to demonstrate the idea of joining small molecules together to form long chain polymers.

Dr Sara Bacon from the University's Department of Chemistry said: "This is a fantastic event for primary school pupils. They get the chance to make polymer slime in one of the Chemistry Department laboratories during one session. In the other session, Sir Harry Kroto guides them step by step to make their own Buckyball which they get to take home with them.”

Kirsten Fretwell, Outreach Activities Officer at the University of Sheffield, said: “This is an amazing opportunity for primary school pupils to meet the renowned scientist, and Noble Prize winner, Professor Sir Harry Kroto and take part in an enjoyable day of hands-on science activities. We hope the day will spark their interest and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.”