Date of release: Friday, August 1, 2014

Professor David MaguireFive senior academics have been promoted to the position of Professor at the University of Greenwich. The appointments are a key part of the university’s ambitions to further raise academic standards and become one of the top 50 universities in the UK, in line with its Strategic Plan.

The new professors are Steve Belmain, Susan Seal, Gay Gibson, David Wray and Colin Hills, all from the university’s Faculty of Engineering & Science.

Steve Belmain becomes Professor of Ecology at the Natural Resources Institute (NRI). He has helped win research projects worth more than £7.5 million, leading large projects in Europe, Africa and Asia. He is one of the leading international scientists to be tackling the problems of rodents, their impact on agriculture and the diseases they spread, addressing underlying ecological issues and helping to develop sustainable management solutions. His work has attracted much national and international media interest, and most recently he featured in ITV's Tonight news programme, The Rise of the Super Rats.

Susan Seal has been appointed to Professor in Molecular Biology, also at the Natural Resources Institute. Much of her research is aimed at controlling pests and diseases of tropical food crops, especially those caused by viruses and insect vectors on cassava, sweet potato, yams and vegetables. These root and tuber crops play key roles in food security, poverty reduction, and income generation in sub-Saharan Africa, and so much of her research is aimed at improving food security for smallholder farmers. Professor Seal has led more than 50 research projects at NRI, with a total value in excess of £5 million.

Gay Gibson is promoted to the position of Professor of Medical Entomology at the Natural Resources Institute. An expert in mosquito sensory behaviour, her research aims to discover how disease-transmitting insects find their blood-hosts, and how scientists can find new ways of reducing their populations and controlling the spread of the diseases they cause. Her work on mosquito and tsetse fly behaviour, including studies of how this is guided by visual, auditory and other stimuli, has been widely published, and has featured on BBC Radio Four.

David Wray is promoted to Professor of Applied Analytical Chemistry. Since joining the university in 1990, he has applied his expertise in analytical chemistry to research projects in a range of subject areas including geo- and environmental sciences, biological sciences and nutrition. Much of his work is industry focused and he has raised more than £3 million of enterprise income via the Analytical Services Laboratory, which he founded. He is currently co-leading a KTP project examining instrumentation for automated mineral analysis.

Colin Hills becomes Professor of Environment and Materials Engineering. As Director of the university’s Centre for Contaminated Land Remediation, he has provided national guidance on contaminated soil for the Environment Agency, and has received a number of national prizes, including the Times Higher Education Award for his outstanding contribution to innovation and technology. Professor Hills is Founder Director of Carbon8 Systems and a Founder of Carbon8 Aggregates, spin-out companies of the university, which use environmentally friendly technology to convert waste and soil into sustainable construction materials. His work has led to the world’s first commercially available carbon negative concrete construction block, while Carbon8's carbon negative manufactured aggregate, C8Agg, received the award of UK recycled product of the year.

In addition, three members of staff have been promoted to the position of Reader. They are Valerie Nelson, Reader in Rural Development, Natural Resources Institute; Paola Tubaro, Reader in Economic Sociology, Business School; and Claire Monks, Reader in Developmental Psychology, Faculty of Education & Health.

Professor David Maguire, the university’s Vice-Chancellor, pictured above, says: “I offer warm congratulations to all our new professors and readers. Each fully deserves their success, and all are playing an important role in contributing to the world-class research that we take such a pride in at Greenwich.

“They will further strengthen our track record in this area, and also have key roles to play in helping the university to achieve excellence in teaching and enterprise as we pursue our ambitions towards an exciting future.”

All new appointments take effect from 1 September.

Story by Public Relations

Picture: Professor David Maguire, Vice-Chancellor.