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University of Bristol appoints three new heads of school for Faculty of Science

(Left to right): Professors Emma Raven, Nigel Wilding and Rich Pancost

Press release issued: 12 April 2018

The University of Bristol has appointed new heads of school for Chemistry, Physics and Earth Sciences.

Professors Emma Raven (Chemistry), Nigel Wilding (Physics) and Rich Pancost (Earth Sciences) start their new positions from the start of the next academic year in September 2018.

In addition, recruitment for a new Dean for the Faculty of Science is now underway and it is hoped this person will also be in place by September.

Professor Emma Raven graduated with a BSc in Chemistry from the University of Leicester before undertaking a PhD at the University of Newcastle specialising in the field of bioinorganic chemistry.

She then took up a lectureship at the University of British Columbia before moving back to her alma mater, the University of Leicester in 1995 where she has held numerous positions including Head of Chemistry. She became a Professor in 2006.

Her work and research has been focused on understanding structure and function of heme proteins and their role in biology, including the globins/cytochromes, peroxidases and dioxygenases. Her early studies on peroxidase work is now cited in numerous text books on bioinorganic chemistry.

Professor Raven has also undertaken extensive work in improving our understanding of heme dioxygenase enzymes and heme regulation in biology.

She said: “I can’t wait to start my new job! Bristol Chemistry is an incredibly strong school and one that is widely admired across the chemistry community, so I am proud to be leading it forward over the next few years and I take the responsibility very seriously.

“I am really looking forward to meeting the students and post docs, and finding out first-hand about their work. And, once I get to know the ropes I hope that I will be able to contribute to the life and times of the University in other ways too.”

After graduating with a BSc in Physics from Edinburgh University, Professor Nigel Wilding remained in Edinburgh to do a PhD in Statistical Physics. Five years as a postdoc in Germany followed before returning to Edinburgh to take up a Personal Research Fellowship.

His first academic appointment was as a Lecturer in Applied Mathematics at Liverpool University before a move, in 2002 to a Lectureship in Physics at the University of Bath, becoming a Professor in 2009.

Professor Wilding’s research is centred around theoretical soft condensed matter and statistical physics.

Much of his work involves developing and applying state-of-the-art Monte Carlo simulation methods to explore the fascinating physics that occurs in soft matter systems such as complex colloids. He and his team also investigate a range of phenomena including self-assembly and novel phase behaviour.

Professor Wilding said: “I am excited about joining the School of Physics at Bristol, which boasts a proud history of significant achievements in Physics.  As incoming Head, I am greatly looking forward to my role in helping the School to continue to go from strength to strength.”

Professor Rich Pancost is a well-known academic based at the University of Bristol, heading up and leading the prestigious Cabot Institute.

After obtaining a BSc in Geology from Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH) and a PhD in Geosciences from Penn State University, he held a post-doctoral fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research.

In 2000 he joined the University of Bristol as a Lecturer in Biogeochemistry in the School of Chemistry's Organic Geochemistry Unit (which celebrates its 50th anniversary this summer) before being promoted to Professor in 2010.

Professor Pancost’s research focuses on how organisms adapt to environmental conditions at the molecular level and how this generates molecular and isotope signatures that can be used to trace biogeochemical processes or be preserved in rocks for hundreds of millions of years.

A champion of interdisciplinary research, he was involved in the creation of the Cabot Institute and became its Director in 2013.

The Institute engages interdisciplinary approaches to address the major environmental challenges of the 21st century, and in that role, Professor Pancost has worked with academics from across the University and partners from across the city of Bristol, the country and the world. 

Professor Pancost said: “The School of Earth Sciences at Bristol is one of the very best in the world, and I have had first-hand experience of that through five years of Directing the Cabot Institute and nearly two decades of research and teaching collaboration.

“It is a School where you can learn about everything from the evolution of life and the origin of planets to climate change, environmental degradation and natural hazards.

“It is endlessly stimulating! But I am also excited about the people with whom I'm going to work; my new colleagues are passionate about research and teaching as well as engaging with those outside the University. It's an honour to be Head of this School but it is also going to interesting, inspiring and fun!”

Professor Tim Gallagher, the current Dean of Science, said: “2018 is a time of considerable change within the Faculty of Science. 

“Mike Walter has just finished his role Head of School of Earth Sciences to take on a senior leadership role as the Carnegie Institute’s Geophysical Laboratory Director. 

“In addition, Nick Norman (Chemistry) and James Annett (Physics) are completing their terms as Head of School in July.  We want to thank Mike, Nick and James for the job that they have done, which is a difficult and demanding one, and we also want to welcome three new Heads at what is a very exciting time.

“Professor Emma Raven (to Chemistry) and Professor Nigel Wilding (to Physics) are joining Bristol from Leicester University and Bath University respectively.  They will bring new ideas and perspectives to their Schools and to the wider Faculty, and they will be joined by Professor Rich Pancost who will move from Chemistry to take over as Head of the School of Earth Sciences. 

“Rich’s outstanding leadership of the University’s Cabot Institute will complement the external view that Emma and Nigel will bring and that, together with the experience of our current Heads - Jens Marklof (Mathematics) and Tony Payne (Geography) – are well-placed to share. 

“This will provide the Faculty with the leadership needed to develop, grow and evolve within an ever changing and challenging environment in order to deliver the University’s vision and strategy.”


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