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We have an international reputation for research excellence across a wide range of disciplines; the results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) put us in the top 10 per cent of all UK universities.
Professor Richard Jones, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation
Professor Richard Jones is a physicist, with a PhD from Cambridge University. Following postdoctoral work at Cornell University, he lectured at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory before moving to Sheffield as a Professor of Physics in 1998, where he was Head of Department from 1999 to 2003. In 2006 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Role and responsibilities: Richard has overall responsibility not only for the quality and rigour of the £130 million worth of research that is carried out in Sheffield, but also for seeing that it has the maximum impact and benefit to society. His strategic role is to help develop a new model of partnership working that accelerates the translation of ideas into impact, while driving improvements in the quality and relevance of research.
Career profile: Richard is a trusted national policy advisor. He is a Council member for Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the government body responsible for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. He recently gave evidence to a high-powered government committee on innovation policy. His work with the Parliamentary Committee on Business Innovation and Skills on Business and University collaboration is helping to shape the government’s emerging industrial strategy. Along with his colleagues on the University’s Executive Board, he is exploring how Sheffield can set benchmark standards for a new kind of industry-led research university: one that plays a vital role not only in regional economic regeneration, but also in rebalancing the national economy through a strong focus on advanced manufacturing.
Career highlights: Seeing his seminal SPERI paper on Britain’s innovation deficit being taken up by policy makers in Whitehall and debated by the Parliamentary Committee on Business Innovation and Skills. Being awarded the Institute of Physics Tabor Medal and Prize for his work on nanoscience was also personally important because he spent his formative years working with David Tabor, the founder of modern tribology, at his laboratories in Cambridge. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2006 - the ultimate accolade for any British scientist.
Results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) put us in the top 10 per cent of all UK universities
Working with stakeholders: Whether it is strengthening and extending strategic partnerships with global brands such as Boeing, Rolls-Royce and Siemens – pushing back the boundaries of the possible in energy and aerospace – or translating research into reality through spin-out companies such as Phase Focus and Diurnal, Richard believes the key to success comes from listening closely to the industries and communities with which we work and who we serve.
Outside links: In his own research Richard continues to work closely with partners such as AkzoNobel – the global coatings and paint firm. His understanding of the importance of links with industry dates back to his days as a research student at Cambridge – his post-graduate degree was a collaboration with ICI, and since then he’s worked with chemicals, food and pharmaceutical companies. In his work with EPSRC’s Council, he is focused on making sure that its £800 million of public funding is turned into real world impact.
Research for his work on nanoscience – he is the author of Soft Machines: Nanotechnology and Life – saw him touring the country, engaging with communities about this significant new science. The experience underlined just how important it is to listen to, and reflect upon, the needs and concerns of the wider public.
More on Professor Jones
Soft Machines - Professor Jones' blog
@richardaljones on Twitter