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Board member news

My first six months

8 November 2017

During my first months as Pro Vice-Chancellor, College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, I have visited all of our seven Schools and enjoyed speaking to colleagues and students, as well as being shown research and teaching facilities. I am impressed by the many cutting-edge developments in our Schools.

As the new academic year takes hold, it is important that we continue to work on our priorities and focus our attention on the areas where we can make improvements, as well as celebrate where we are doing well. In preparation for the launch of the new Way Forward we have already started work on developing action plans and I am very much looking forward to working with colleagues across the College to ensure we achieve our strategic aims. I believe that we can only achieve this in an environment where all members of staff feel supported and can realise their full potential. Therefore improved support is one of the priorities of College Board for this year. Organisational Development Manager, Karen Cooke, and Manjit Bansal, Chair of the BME+ Network, recently visited a College Board meeting to inspire and educate us on positive changes in equality, diversity and inclusion. Visits to College Board are scheduled from other departments and Colleges to improve our collaborative working culture.

Our students continue to recognise us for our high quality of teaching and learning resources and we have received particularly good feedback in the National Student Survey for our Integrated Masters programmes, which are offered in the majority of our schools.  We know that there is room for improvement in a number of areas, and I have met with all schools to discuss how this might be achieved.  We have instigated a rolling review of teaching, which will focus on continual improvement and celebration of excellence.  I am particularly pleased when our students go on to achieve awards for their endeavours, and this year one of our computer science graduates, Samuel Martin gained a prize in the prestigious Undergraduate Awards for developing a low-cost 3D scanning robot that can be used in disaster recovery situations.

I have also been impressed by our fantastic College team, and their hard work and commitment to ensuring they are customer-focused and responsive to the needs of our Schools.

In October, I was delighted to learn that Professor Graham Hutchings, Director of the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, was awarded the Advanced Environmental Solutions Prize from the Italian company ENI for developing a process that uses the precious metal gold as a catalyst to produce vinyl chloride rather than a highly toxic mercury catalyst. Vinyl chloride is converted to PVC, the world’s third-most widely used synthetic plastic polymer.

Finally, our inaugural College Lecture Series launched in September with a sell-out lecture from Professor Patrick Sutton on gravitational waves. Cardiff University’s Gravitational Physics Group then celebrated the award of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics to Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne for contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves. Our Gravitational Physics Group, who are a key part of the LIGO team, have laid the foundations for how we go about detecting gravitational waves and developed novel algorithms and software that have now become standard search tools for detecting these signals.

Last month we were delighted to welcome Professor Aseem Inam from the Welsh School of Architecture who delivered a much-anticipated lecture on “Transforming Cities/Transforming Urbanism”. Professor Inam joined us last year as Chair of Urban Design, leading on one of our most successful postgraduate programmes, the MA in Urban Design which is jointly run with the School of Geography and Planning. I was fascinated to hear how students on the course use Cardiff, the city, as their laboratory as well as exploring precedents from around the world. This short film gives a very engaging summary of what the course offers –

I look forward to showcasing lectures from many more of our talented community across the next academic year and hope to see colleagues from across the university at the lectures as well as the reception that follows each talk.