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University strives for world-leading research profile


A £6m investment to fund research has been made over the next three years, with the primary focus being the recruitment of new academic staff that will significantly enhance the research capacity and capability of the University in target areas. 

The appointments include Professor Gary Sheffield, who along with existing staff, will establish the UK’s leading centre in war studies. He has been a lecturer at various institutions including Sandhurst and is widely published on both the First and Second World War. He is working closely with the Government on the commemorations of WW1 in 2014.

There have been a number of posts created within the field of art and design. British documentary film director Franny Armstrong, who has her own company, Spanner Films, was a pioneer in the use of crowd funding for independent films and developed an innovative form of film distribution known as Indie Screenings. In 2011 she was named as one of the Guardian newspaper's "Top 100 Women". Franny becomes Professor of Film.

She’s joined by new colleague Michael Brennan-Wood who is a visual artist, curator, lecturer and arts consultant. He is internationally regarded and celebrated as one of the most innovative and inspiring artists working in textiles. Examples of his work can be seen in major public, corporate and private collections worldwide including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa and National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. He will become Professor of Ornament.

And Turner Prize nominee Jane Wilson has been named as Professor of Art. Jane along with sister Louise Wilson are British artists who work together as a sibling duo with their art work based in video, film and photography.

Dr Graham Brooks has been named Professor of Law, coming to Wolverhampton from his position as Director, Centre for Counter Fraud and senior lecturer at the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Portsmouth. His areas of expertise are fraud and corruption, community safety and crime prevention, youth justice and gambling addiction.

In education Professor Denis Gleeson, formerly Professor of Education at the University of Warwick and Head of the School of Education at Keele University, will lead the Centre for Research and Development in Lifelong Learning (CRADLE). CRADLE focuses on research into further education policy and practice, with a particular emphasis on the early years of a teacher or trainer’s career.

The University of Wolverhampton Business School has appointed Dr Michael Blowfield as Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility. Michael has written papers for the UK government, the European Commission, the UN and the World Bank, and has worked on several projects analysing corporate responsibility in developing countries. He is currently focusing on the role of business in helping address climate change and other dimensions of sustainability.

In addition, an existing member of staff, Dr Silke Machold has become Professor of Corporate Governance and was appointed for her research interests in corporate governance and especially the role of and efficacy of boards.

Four other internal promotions have also been made.

Keith Gildart becomes Professor of Labour and Social History, Rona Lee has been named as Professor of Fine Art Practice, Dr Mark Stanford is now Professor in Advanced Manufacturing Engineering and Peter Walton has been made Professor of Insolvency Law.

There have also been two appointments in the School of Applied Sciences: Professor Marek Kowalczuk and Dr Wang Wenxin, have both been made Professors in Biopolymers. Professor Kowalczuk is known for studies in the area of novel polymeric materials, in particular biodegradable and biocompatible polymers for medical and environmental applications, while Dr Wenxin is interested in developing new biologically based materials to aid skin wound healing, intervertebral disc repair and cardiovascular disease.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, Professor Geoff Layer, said: “We have created these new academic posts to all areas of the University. They will complement our existing research strengths and aid us in developing new areas of research to develop unique areas of expertise for the University.

“Our aim is simply to create areas of world class research.”

The University’s research activity will be led by the Dean of Research, Professor John Darling and coordinated through the establishment of a central Research Policy Unit. 

The specific responsibilities of the Research Policy Unit will be to:

  • Increase research capacity and funding
  • Develop a first class experience for research students
  • Provide guidance and oversight of all aspects of research governance and research ethics
  • To provide advice to the University with regard to the national and international research landscape and the opportunities and challenges they pose.

In addition to these appointments a number of PhD studentships will be made available to grow existing high-quality research within the University. 

All the new starters will be in post by the start of the new academic year.


For more information please contact James Allen in the Media Relations Office on 01902 322003

Date Issued: Tuesday 27 August 2013 

For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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