In 2013 the University of Birmingham has identified 16 priority areas for recruitment from across the five Colleges.
Below is further information about the priority areas identified for the 2013 recruitment round, together with details about the academic leads for each area.
Visual and Material Culture of Classical Antiquity
Priority Area Lead: Dr Diana Spencer
The School is seeking applications from scholars eager to develop new connexions within and between the Department's current areas of expertise in Classics and Ancient History (textuality, languages, historiography), with a focus on the classical era in the Greco-Roman world (especially, 6th century BCE to 2nd century CE), and to create new opportunities for integrating three-dimensional cultural production into the Department's research. This could include e.g. the culture of the book, technologies of consumption, art and text, the experience of space, religion and taboo, the politics of design, but also covers interior design and decor, the relationship between public and domestic architecture, and the contexts and technologies of cultural production. The BF should have an imaginative approach to disciplinary connexions beyond CAH with a visual/material cultural focus, for example to strengthen the links between the 'Reception' research cluster and the Department of Art History.
Modern and Contemporary Literature
Priority Area Lead: Dr Andrzej Gasiorek
The School of English has significant strengths in modern (post 1800) literature and culture across its constituent departments. These have recently been brought together through the establishment of a research centre in Cultural Modernity which aims to foster collaboration between academics with expertise in modern and contemporary literature and literary cultures, and to encourage the development of bids for external funding in this area, commensurate with Birmingham’s expertise. The development of a new strategic plan for the school has identified modern and contemporary literature as a target area for future growth in terms of research outputs and external funding. Three new appointments at lecturer level in modern and contemporary literature reflect a strategic decision to strengthen our expertise in this area. We are looking for a high calibre research fellow to make significant contributions to our research output in this area, and to lead plans to secure external research funding. The successful candidate will have a record of high calibre research outputs and a track record of successful applications for external funding.
Personalised Medicine and Cancer Genetics
Priority Area Leads: Professor Paul Moss and Professor Conny Bonifer
Research in the College of Medical and Dental Sciences is built around a ‘translational pipeline’ from fundamental discovery through to preclinical testing, leading ultimately to delivery of new therapies to patients. An emerging priority in both the research into human disease and the development of new treatment strategies is the concept of personalised medicine through patient stratification. Such stratification is essentially underpinned by genetic differences, which can be inherited and therefore apply to the patient as a whole, or acquired as seen in the origin and progression of cancers. Using high throughput, deep coverage techniques these genetic differences can be identified at the level of the genetic code itself or the profile of molecules that are effectively downstream from the expression of specific genes. This information can then be integrated for instance with outcome data from a therapy trial and ultimately could be used to define a treatment strategy that is most likely to be effective. We are looking for a highly motivated research fellow with a proven track record including high impact publications who has an interest in pursuing innovative research in this area.
Immune System Based Therapy
Priority Area Leads: Professor Graham Anderson and Dr Phil Newsome
Research in the College of Medical and Dental Sciences is built around a ‘translational pipeline’ from fundamental discovery through to preclinical testing, leading ultimately to delivery of new therapies to patients. A strategic priority of the College is to apply knowledge gained from our internationally recognised expertise in immunology to the development of novel immune- and cell-based therapies for diseases ranging from chronic inflammation and cirrhosis through to cancer. We have invested in the necessary infrastructure that makes it possible to go from pre-clinical studies on models of human disease through to early phase clinical trials, notably including an Advanced Therapies Facility, incorporating cell and gene therapy capability, and an associated Clinical Research Facility in which patients are able to be treated. We are looking for a highly motivated and innovative research fellow with a proven track record including high impact publications in any relevant field.
Priority Area Leads: Professor Wiebke Arlt and Professor Chris McCabe
Endocrine research at the University of Birmingham has a longstanding tradition and an internationally recognised profile of excellence. The Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism (CEDAM) is the focal point for this research and encompasses three broad themes: (i) Steroid hormone action and its impact on human disease, the major focus of which involves unique capability for steroid metabolome analysis that is enabling the definition of mechanisms underlying rare disorders and common diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, polycystic ovary syndrome, chronic inflammatory disease, osteoporosis and cancer; (ii) Endocrine and endocrine-related cancer; and (iii) Obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes, which addresses the obesity epidemic and its severe health consequences that have rightly been identified as a top research priority for the UK, with obesity soon to evolve into the leading cause of liver failure and cancer. We are looking for a highly motivated and innovative research fellow with a proven track record including high impact publications in any relevant field.
Priority Area Leads: Professor Kevin Chipman and Professor Jon Frampton
We seek Fellowship applicants in Bioinformatics with interests in integrative studies between biology, medicine and the mathematical and computational sciences. A particular focus will be on the application of bioinformatics to Personalised Medicine (linked to a major new Institute of Translational Medicine) and application to Environmental Genomics (linked to major initiatives in the application of the “omics” to environmental toxicology and biodiversity).
The University’s ambition to be at the forefront of UK biomedical and life sciences requires the ability to analyse very large and complex datasets describing molecules and their complex interactions. Within just 6 years it has been estimated that the rate of acquisition of biological data will have increased 1 million fold. We have established major initiatives with extensive facilities particularly for next generation sequencing and metabolomics. Genomics of organisms in the ecosystem and their environmental interactions is a major initiative with a formal alliance with BGI. In addition we are building a £24M Institute of Translational Medicine with a stratified medicine facility that will integrate biological and genomics data with clinical data to deliver personalised medicine . The importance of this area and timeliness is emphasized by the recent announcement by the minister of a multimillion investment into “computing big datasets” linked to the Government’s announcement that the NHS will aim to sequence 100,000 whole genomes.
Across our three colleges of Life and Environmental Sciences, Medical and Dental Sciences and Engineering and Physical Sciences we are making the University of Birmingham a place of choice for bioinformatics research, service provision, training and recruitment.
School or schools in which the Fellow would be appointed:
As well as having a “Home School” relevant to the primary research interests, the Fellow would be integrated into the planned Centre for Computational Biology (currently the Centre for Systems Biology) which will span Computer Sciences, Mathematics, Biosciences and a range of activities in Medical and Dental Sciences particularly around the Institute of Translational Medicine.
Tissue Regeneration and Repair
Priority Area Leads: Professor Jon Frampton, Professor Ann Logan and Professor Liam Grover
Research in the College of Medical and Dental Sciences is built around a ‘translational pipeline’ from fundamental discovery through to preclinical testing, leading ultimately to delivery of new therapies to patients. A strategic priority of the College is to apply our expertise in immunology and cell therapy to regeneration in the context of age- and trauma-related tissue damage. This priority links to the establishment of centres for ageing research (including the MRC/ARUK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing) and trauma research in the NIHR Research Centre for Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology, which is supported jointly by the University of Birmingham, the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust and the Royal College of Defence Medicine, but also includes work on biomaterials and cell-based reconstruction being performed in the School of Chemical Engineering. The University has invested in the necessary infrastructure that makes it possible to go from pre-clinical studies through to early phase clinical trials, notably including an Advanced Therapies Facility, incorporating cell therapy capability, and an associated Clinical Research Facility in which patients are able to be treated. We are looking for a highly motivated and innovative research fellow with a proven track record including high impact publications in any relevant field.
Priority Area Leads: Professor Daniela Kuhn and Professor Deryk Osthus
Discrete Mathematics is one of the most active areas of research in Mathematics today, focusing on the study of (finite) structures that take on discrete values. It is best understood in distinction to Continuous Mathematics, which studies quantities that vary continuously. Discrete Mathematics underpins the world of information, such as computers, communication networks and the internet. It also plays a key role in the study of complex networks arising in nature. Partly because of these connections, the field has experienced tremendous growth in the last few decades. In Birmingham, strength in the area includes Extremal and Probabilistic Combinatorics with applications to algorithms and models of complex networks. We are looking for a researcher who has demonstrated, or shown potential for, the highest achievement in any area of Discrete Mathematics.
Computational Intelligence for Software Engineering
Priority Area Lead: Professor Xin Yao, Tel: +44 (0)121 414 3747
Search-based software engineering (SBSE) is an emerging research area in software engineering that uses meta-heuristics and computational intelligence techniques for solving hard software engineering problems. Birmingham is an international leader in this area, with recent publications on this topic in IEEE TSE, ACM TOSEM, etc.
Our research in this area was previously (2006-11) supported by EPSRC through a major grant on "SEBASE: Software Engineering By Automated SEarch", and is currently supported by an EPSRC Grant Programme on "DAASE: Dynamic Adaptive Automated Software Engineering" in collaboration with UCL, Stirling and York (2012-18).
The successful candidate must have proven track records in both computational intelligence and software engineering, evidenced by publications in top international journals in both computational intelligence and software engineering, e.g., IEEE or ACM Transactions. They must be able to demonstrate that he/she has a growing international reputation.
Electric Power and Energy Systems for Transportation
Priority Area Leads: Professor Clive Roberts and Professor Xiao-Ping Zhang
The Birmingham Fellow post will be based in the School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering. The post will focus on the area of electric power and energy systems as applied to transportation systems. The post is intended to strengthen the links between two of the main research groups in the School, namely: the Railway Traction Group (which is part of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education), led by Professor Clive Roberts; and the Power and Control Group, led by Professor Xiao-Ping Zhang.
Over recent years the School has grown its research base in the area of Electrical Transportation Systems and Electrical Power Systems with a number of key appointments, and the award of significant research funds from industrially supported projects (e.g. Network Rail, London Underground, Atkins), government departments (e.g. DfT, DCLG), as well as from the EPSRC and EC. This research has enabled the development of a number of bespoke simulation tools to model smart-grids for a number of application areas - one particular example is the extension of the University's Multi-Train Simulator, which is now being used to help a number of railway operators around the world to understand the effect of different control strategies on energy usage in dynamic AC and DC railway power systems with regenerating loads, energy storage capacity and load balancing capabilities. This post offers a unique opportunity for an excellent early career researcher to work with two established research teams to develop their own portfolio of research projects that builds on existing research. The applicant should have an existing and genuine interest in working on original practical problems in the field of future transportation systems. The successful candidate should have a background in at least one of the following areas: novel traction system design; power system simulation; industrial applications of smart-grids; energy storage technology for transportation systems.
The Role of Exercise in Cognition and Academic Achievement in Adolescence
Priority Area Lead: Professor Janice Thompson
We are seeking a Birmingham Fellow to examine parameters in the area of exercise and cognition in adolescence. In order to meet the multidisciplinary research challenges, collaborations with colleagues across disciplines within the School, and in the Schools of Psychology and Education, will be encouraged. Methods and approaches are not prescribed, but could include advanced techniques such as Doppler echocardiography and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), measurement of cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and neural reactions to stress and exercise, tests of cognitive ability and academic achievement, and monitoring of relevant health implications.
There is a growing body of research demonstrating the benefits of engaging in appropriate forms and levels of exercise through the lifecourse. There is robust evidence on the role of physical activity in enhancing physical health, and emerging evidence on the role of exercise in improving mental health. In the case of adolescents, claims have been made about links between physical activity engagement and developing ‘desirable’ character traits, and the role of exercise in enhancing cognition/academic achievement, although the existing evidence is thin. New research techniques, however, mean that it is increasingly feasible to investigate, in robust ways, the complex links between exercise, cognition and academic motivation/achievement. This research is of strategic importance given the policy pressures to drive up academic standards in schools and to increase physical activity levels. The research is also timely in the context of the new University of Birmingham School and Sixth Form Free School initiative.
This Fellow would be appointed to the School of Sport, Exercise & Rehabilitation Sciences, but would collaborate with colleagues in Psychology and Education. A joint appointment is possible.
Forests – ecology, phytopathology and biogeochemistry
Priority Area Lead: Professor Rob MacKenzie
The University of Birmingham is poised to make a significant investment in Forest Research. The investment will complement existing areas of Geography, Earth, Environmental Sciences and BioSciences and will lead the University’s response to the global challenge of one-planet living.
Forest Research at the University of Birmingham will address two fundamental and interrelated research areas: the impact of climate and environmental change on woodlands, and the resilience of trees to invasive pests and diseases. Current plans include a large and globally unique experimental facility allowing environmental modification of mature forest stands along with ubiquitous sensing of ecosystem status through sensor networks and aerial robotics. The experimental facility will be matched with development of theory and process modelling of the system at all scales from the cell to the landscape. There is considerable scope for researchers joining the forestry initiative at this early stage to influence the design of the facility. Therefore, inquiries from prospective fellows with outstanding track records in the design, development, and exploitation of field studies are particularly welcome.
Priority topics for the Fellowship include: ecophysiology; biochemistry; soil and microbial processes; macronutrient cycles; population ecology; community and landscape ecology; susceptibility and resistance; disease systematics and diagnostics; ’omic and bioinformatic biomarkers of toxicity; disease epidemiology; invasiveness; tree growth/allometry; phenology; and, from a broader systems perspective, innovative approaches to ecosystem services, green infrastructure and the management of risks to forest health.
Fellows in this area will join strong research communities in the Schools of Biosciences and Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences, with particular interests in macronutrient cycling, land-atmosphere coupling, atmospheric chemistry, ecohydrology, urban ecology and environmental stressors. Research extending into urban forestry and horticulture will also benefit from the university botanical gardens, which act as a focal point for public outreach.
Birmingham Fellows are globally leading for their career stage and can demonstrate how they are shaping the production of knowledge in their area. They have a track record of high-impact publications and have won — or clearly demonstrate the potential to win — competitive research funding. Candidates currently holding funding-agency fellowships in a relevant discipline will be short-listed.
Those interested in applying should contact Professor Rob MacKenzie to discuss development of the Forest Research Institute and possible lines of research.
Priority Area Lead: Professor Kim Shapiro
Neuroscience is a broad discipline at the crossroads of many research areas including Psychology, Bioscience, Computer Science, Sports Science and various sub-disciplines within Medical Science. We seek to appoint an outstanding young scientist whose research will integrate across disciplines, e.g. cognitive neuroscience, bioinformatics, neuropharmacology, neuropsychiatry, neurorehabilitation; all of which are areas of high priority for the UK funding councils. Although we anticipate that the ‘home’ will be Psychology, the successful candidate will become part of an emerging neuroscience programme at UoB, which will afford theopportunity to engage with scientists across the university. The Birmingham Fellow will have access to an impressive ‘toolkit’ of facilities including a 3T Philips MRI scanner, and compatible EEG and TMS (single-pulse and repetitive) equipment enabling joint fMRI/EEG or fMRI/TMS recording, transcranial electrical (tACS, tDCS) devices for cortical stimulation, MEG and high-field strength (7T) MRI access via our partner University (Nottingham), visuomotor tracking station complete with eye and limb-movement monitoring devices, a bimanual force-controlled robotics arm, DNA sequencing and genotyping services, advanced mass spectrometry, and excellent access to both clinical and non-clinical populations across the life span. A jointly funded initiative between Psychology and Computer Science – the Computational Neuroscience and Computer Robotics (CNCR) centre – affords a further opportunity for the successful Fellow to engage in state of the art research involving artificial intelligence and robotic-assisted rehabilitation.
School or schools in which the Fellow would be appointed:
Psychology, jointly with Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Computer Science , Bioscience, or Sport and Exercise Science.
International Business and Global Value Chains
Priority Area Leads: Dr Fiona Carmichael and Stephen Brammer
The Fellow would directly complement our new Global Value Chain (GVC) Research Cluster, which builds on the Business School’s reputation for research excellence in themes related to globalisation and a critical understanding of multinational corporations in the global economy. This has a distinctive perspective on the intersection between the global economy, national innovation and business systems, as well as firms’ clusters and global network collaborations. The cluster’s interests focus on inter-organisational relationships which cross national boundaries, raising questions about power relationships between firms and the extent to which national, international, public and private regulatory systems provide both constraints on, and resources for, different actors in the chain. The GVC cluster focuses on the dynamics of high- as against low-roads to socio-economic development, highlighting the role of social institutions in supporting innovation, the strategic growth of firms, skill formation, work modernisation and labour standards in the context of contemporary changes in the global economy.
Security and Governance
Priority Area Leads: Professor Nicholas Wheeler and Professor Michelle Pace
This theme responds to the University's recognition of security as one of its strategic priorities. The recent establishment of the new Institute of Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS) with its commitment to promoting a multidisciplinary and multidimensional approach to security, and to bringing together work on security across schools and departments at UoB, speaks importantly to the significance of this research area. Competitor institutions in the United Kingdom are investing heavily in security and International Relations. The latter are significant areas of strength, both in recruitment terms and grant capture.
Having identified security as a key priority, the challenge is to attract to Birmingham an outstanding cohort of early career researchers. The school of Government and Society (G&S) has made an important start in this regard with the recruitment of three outstanding Birmingham Fellows in the past two years (Rita Floyd, Sara Fregonese, and Christalla Yakinthou). By linking security to governance as a key BF priority, a space would be opened up for greater collaboration both within the school, especially with the Institute of Local Government Studies (INLOGOV) and the Governance and Social Development Research Centre (GSDRC).
Governance is conceived here as a multilevel phenomenon reaching out from the local to the global. The ICCS’s new flagship MSc in Global Cooperation and Security, for example, has at the heart of its training programme a commitment to understanding the obstacles to greater international cooperation in meeting global security threats, and the possibilities for overcoming these. Multidisciplinary investigations are a key feature of this program, and the interest in the role of norms, rules, and institutions in promoting co-operation and security forms an important cross-cutting theme in research work across the school. Consequently, the security and governance theme provides an opportunity for further integration across the school, as well as contributing to a key strategic priority of the College of Social Sciences and the wider University
Social Justice and Inequality
Priority Area Leads: Professor David Stephenson and Professor Karen Rowlingson
The issues of social justice and inequality are at the heart of a number of research centres and areas within the School of Social Policy. This includes both conceptual work on theories of social justice and citizenship, and empirical work on policies to reduce inequality, and the impact of policies on inequality. Research interests projects within Health Services Management Centre include health inequalities and health inequalities policy (Prof Mark Exworthy; Dr Nicola Gale; Prof Martin Powell), and the impact of personalisation on inequality (Dr Catherine Needham). Work within the Institute of Applied Social Studies (IASS) includes research on a number of issues such as the politics of social justice and inequality and social care
Work within the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) includes Impact on equality of third sector delivery of public services. Research within the Centre on Household Assets and Saving Management (CHASM) focuses on the role of assets and their distribution in people's lives, from pensions to housing to financial savings. In particular, recent projects include attitudes to inequality; ‘the problem of riches’ (remuneration committees and executive pay); and the social policy impact of the financial crisis. Work in the Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) includes the impact of migration on inequality.
A current Birmingham Fellow, Dr Simon Pemberton, has interests in the areas of poverty, inequality and human rights. Issues of social justice and inequality have featured in Birmingham Policy Commissions that tackle issues such as the shape and nature of local public services in a ‘big society’, the future of energy, ageing in the 21st Century, and the challenges of security and freedom. These have included the Future of Local Public services; Healthy Ageing in the Twenty First Century; and the Distribution of Wealth in the UK.