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Promotion Stories

Celebrating promotion from Engagement work

We're incredibly proud to share these stories from colleagues who've been successful in their promotions applications, particularly using their Impact, Outreach and Engagement work to support their work.

Professor Jennifer Alexander

New Status: Professor

As one of the four categories that provide evidence of achievement, this was an essential part of my application for promotion. My Impact work formed part of the History of Art's REF submission as one of two case studies and these were awarded either 4* or 3*, gaining us a score of 100% for Impact. The project that was probably the most significant, from a portfolio submission of several case studies, was that based on my research at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which was disseminated through a subsidised book that reached a wide audience. A follow-up interview with a national newspaper led to its inclusion in the BBC TV programme 'Have I Got News for You', which reached a very large audience and evoked comments from the public that further demonstrated its impact.

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Professor Zhiyan Guo

New Status: Professor

As subject leader of Chinese, I created all the Chinese modules from scratch, offering them to both optional and language degree students in Warwick, and proactively diversifying Chinese culture syllabus. I initiated collaborations with five universities in China and adapted them into international virtual exchange to enrich students’ language and cultural experience and improve their employability skills. I regularly present my pedagogical and empirical research findings at national and international conferences, having been selected to publish some of them in academic journals and books. The recent project I am proud of was the Event titled Chinese Culture in Words, Voices and Music at Resonate Festival, involving both students on campus and an internationally renowned musician.

Dr Simon Jenkins

New Status: Associate Professor

I described several IOE activities as part of my promotion case. There are two that I'm particularly pleased with. The first was "An Evening with Peter Singer" in 2019, which was a joint event with the Philosophy Society at the University of Birmingham - so it involved staff-student collaboration across two institutions. Peter Singer is one of the most influential living philosophers, so it was amazing to have a live audience with him over Zoom, discussing his work with the Effective Altruism movement and in the field of animal ethics. It was also a really great development opportunity for the students too, who got involved by helping to organise and publicise the event. Some of them also gave talks alongside Prof Singer and the other academics, which must have been scary, but they all did great!

Next, I did some teaching on the Widening Participation summer school, co-hosted by the University of Warwick and Queen Mary University of London. This is an opportunity for school pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds in Coventry and London to learn about what it might be like to study medicine. My job, alongside one of my colleagues, was to introduce students to medical ethics, which we did using a series of games, discussions, and me drawing stick people on the white board. I went to London to help judge the students' final presentations, and it was brilliant to see how much they threw themselves into it.

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Robert using a VR headset

Dr Robert O'Toole

New Status: Associate Professor

My main focus has been the use of virtual reality. This has included working with Classics to create a set of VR headsets that are used with schools.I work closely with leading immersive experience consultancy Limina Immersive (led by a Warwick alumnus), providing academic and business development advice. I helped to develop their distinctive approach to engaging the general public with beautifully designed social VR events.I have collaborated with Monash University and WMG to investigate the potential of VR in research, teaching, and public engagement. I lead the Warwick VR Club, running open sessions for the University and the wider public. I maintain a large collection of VR equipment that is used across the University and for public engagement events.In 2020 I ran the Warwick VR Festival, bringing together academic and industry partners. We restarted on-campus activities in 2022 with a programme of VR activities as part of the opening of the new Faculty of Arts Building. Over 200 people experienced VR in a carefully managed environment, many of them using it for the first time. In July 2022 we hosted our first on-campus research event post-pandemic, to showcase and explore a collaboration between Warwickshire Police, Limina, and production company RiVR, screening an experience designed to teach young men about the impact of misogyny. This has led to new partnerships between the University, industry and community groups.

Dr Sarah-Jane Richards

New Status: Assistant Professor

Impact work was a significant part of my case for promotion. Of particular note, was our discovery that the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein could bind sialic acids (glycans found on cell surfaces and in the respiratory tract). With our collaborators at Iceni Glycoscience and University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire we integrated this into a rapid diagnostic, similar to a lateral flow device. This was the first demonstration of how these sugars can be used in place of antibodies in rapid diagnostics. The publication of this work in ACS Central Science published in 2020 has already garnered over 150 citations and been viewed >14,000 times. This work was patented (filed in UK and US), and the patent was licensed. This research features in a university video on impactful researchLink opens in a new window and was covered by BBC News and featured as a lead story on Midlands Today.

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