Archived Complete Visits

The Institute of Advanced Studies welcomed the following IAS Distinguished Visiting Fellows (DVFs) to Birmingham in 2013-2014. The IAS DVF programme welcomes  outstanding academics from global leading institutions around the world for research collaborations and the enrichment of campus life.


Said Sidki, Universidade de Brasilia

Professor Said Sidki, Universidade de Brasilia (1 March - 30 May 2014)Sidki 2014

Following a visit in the Spring 2014 Professor Said Sidki returns to the University of Birmingham in April 2016, hosted by Professor Sergey Shpectorov. Professor Sidki is one of the most prominent Brazilian algebraists, founder of the biannual Escola de Algebra and is a Member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences.

The focus of the proposed research collaboration is on the conjecture that Professor Sidki posed around 1990. He wrote down a series of group presentations, in two integer parameters, and n, generalizing a well-known presentation of the alternating groups, and asked whether the resulting groups are always finite. Sidki himself solved some cases for small m and/or n. A number of additional cases was completed via a computer calculation. The numerical experiments showed a very interesting picture: when n is a power of 2, the resulting group seems always to be a 2-group, while for odd prime powers, the calculation seems to produce an orthogonal group of a type depending on m and n.

Methods employed in this project are interdisciplinary in nature, not restricted to just algebraic considerations. In particular, geometric and topological ideas, related to the theory of buildings, feature prominently. The project has a significant computational component. In this sense, the proposed project cuts across diverse areas of mathematics and connects to the research in high performance computing.

Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig University

Professor Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig University, Giessen (3 March - 12 April 2014)
Professor Evers will be working with Professor Pete Alcock andProfessor John Mohan to develop the work of The Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC). We expect the visit to take place in March 2014.

Adalbert Evers is Professor for Comparative Health and Social Policy at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen; he works there in the Institute for Political Sciences at the Department for Social and Cultural Sciences and in the Institute for Household Economy and Consumer Research at the Department for Agrarian Sciences, Ecology and Environmental Management.

Topics currently being planned are social innovations and links with the history of social welfare and the role of the third sector; the role and challenges of civic engagement and volunteering in local development and local policies.

Building from the bottom: How is social innovation transforming social policy?

Michael Biehl, University of Groningen


Professor Michael Biehl, University of Groningen (1 April - 15 June 2014)

Professor Biehl is Professor of Computing Science at the University of Groningen. He will be with us 1 April - 15 June 2014 and will be hosted by Professor Wiebke Arlt from Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism (CEDAM).

Michael Biehl is an internationally leading expert in the fields of Scientific Computing and Machine Learning. His current research focuses on the design of efficient similarity-based methods for classification, clustering and visualization of complex and high-dimensional data sets, systems science approaches to biomedical large scale data.

He is not only a cutting edge computer scientist but an outstanding communicator of science, which has enabled him to overcome boundaries and engage in truly productive inter-disciplinary collaboration and we are planning a number of events including an inter-disciplinary lecture, research seminar, a think tank seminar for postdoctoral researchers. The overall aim of the visit is to enhance inter-disciplinary interaction and create broad exposure to cutting edge bioinformatics strategies as innovative research tools.

In collaboration with Wiebke Arlt, Professor Biehl has applied novel machine learning approaches to steroid metabolome data from patients with adrenal tumours. This has led to the identification of a malignancy-specific steroid fingerprint (1, 2), with subsequent IP protection of a novel diagnostic tool currently undergoing commercialisation. He also interacts with the UoB Centre for Translational Inflammation Research (CTIR; Dagmar Scheel-Toellner, Karim Raza, Chris Buckley), applying his methods to outcome prediction and early diagnosis of chronic inflammatory disease. Links are also already established with Peter Tino from the School of Computer Science, through a strong interest in machine learning, modelling techniques and their inter-disciplinary applications. Contacts regarding collaborative projects are also under way in interaction with the Systems Science for Health Initiative , the NIHR Trauma Centre and MRC/ARUK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing.

Full details of the plan for Professor Biehl’s visit will be available soon but will include a large-scale project on phenome analysis in polycystic ovary syndrome, novel biomarker approaches to early arthritis and the endocrine and immune response to severe trauma. We also intend to explore Michael Biehl’s significant expertise regarding multi-disciplinary integration of bioinformatics and to exchange ideas on how we could enhance embedding of bioinformatics to facilitate highly synergistic multi-disciplinary interactions and the generation of translational outcomes of systems science.

Jeff McMahan, Rutgers University


Professor Jeff McMahan, Rutgers University (3 May - 2 June 2014)

Professor McMahan has been proposed by Professor Heather Widdows, Department of Philosophy, as part of the IAS Saving Humans Theme and will visit Birmingham 3 May – 2 June 2014. We are currently finalising activities and events and will update colleagues and students in the New Year.

Jeff McMahan studied at Oxford and Cambridge and works in normative and applied ethics, political philosophy, and legal theory. Published work includes The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life (Oxford University Press, 2002) and Killing in War (Oxford University Press, 2009). He has several other books forthcoming from Oxford University Press, including a collection of essays called The Values of Lives, a book on war intended for both academic and nonacademic readers called The Right Way to Fight, and a sequel to his 2002 book called The Ethics of Killing: Self-Defense, War, and Punishment.

Elizabeth Gardiner, Monash University


Dr Elizabeth Gardiner, Monash University (6 May - 5 June 2014)

Dr Gardiner will be visiting the University of Birmingham 6 May – 5 June 2014, hosted by Professor Steve Watson.

Dr Elizabeth Gardiner is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases, Monash University, located at the Alfred Medical Research & Education Precinct (AMREP) in Melbourne, Australia. Her core expertise is in the biochemical and molecular analysis of immune-based platelet disorders. Platelets are critical for normal haemostatic responses however they play a primary role in thrombotic disorders.

Papers from Dr Gardiner’s core research have demonstrated and characterised a novel mechanism of regulation of platelet adhesion receptor levels by metalloproteolysis. This shedding of platelet receptors is detected immediately following receptor engagement and signalling, or importantly, upon exposure to changes in vascular shear rates. Loss of the receptors has important functional outcomes for platelets, and for the stability of a thrombus.

Dr Gardiner has expanded her studies of platelet receptor regulation to examine how uncontrolled platelet activation as seen in human autoimmune-based diseases such as immunothrombocytopenia (ITP) and heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), influences surface levels of both platelet receptor GPVI and the related ITAM-containing FcgRIIa receptor levels.

Dr Gardiner will also present an IAS lecture as part of the UoB/BHF Cardiovascular Open Day and a specialist research lecture. Details of these will be available in April.

Jeff Boore, University of California Berkeley


Professor Jeff Boore, University of California Berkeley (16 May - 12 July 2014)

Professor Jeffrey Boore will be visiting the University of Birmingham 16 May – 12 July 2014, hosted by Professor John Colbourne.

Professor Boore is a world recognized genome biologist returning full time to academia, after many years at the US Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute (JGI, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab). Jeffrey is also Founder, Owner, and Chief Executive Officer of Genome Project Solutions, Inc.

He holds a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Michigan and a B.S. in Biology from Penn State University. He retired at the rank of Lt Colonel after more than 20 years in the US Air Force and Air National Guard.

At JGI, he was instrumental in guiding the transition from human genome sequencing to being a comparative genomics facility and in establishing the "Community Sequencing Program", which allocates $20 million per year to genomics projects. Jeffrey has led 22 grant-funded projects totalling over $12 million, overseen numerous whole genome sequencing projects, authored over 100 scientific publications, delivered over 230 scientific presentations, and served on numerous advisory boards and panels, including those to the National Science FoundationUS Department of AgricultureNational Evolutionary Synthesis Center, and National Institutes of Health.

Nadine Akkerman, University of Leiden

Dr Nadine Akkerman, University of Leiden (27 May - 4 July 2014)

Dr Akkerman will be with us 27 May - 4 July 2014 and will be hosted by Dr Hugh Adlington, School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, in association with the Centre for Literary Editing and Materiality of the Text (CLEMT), the Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies (CREMS) and the Institute for Textual Scholarships and Electronic Editing (ITSEE). 

Dr Akkerman is internationally recognised as an outstanding researcher, with an impressive publications record in early modern literary and historical studies. Volume 2 of Dr Akkerman’s three-volume Oxford University Press edition of The Correspondence of Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia was published in 2011, with Volumes 1 and 3 scheduled to appear in 2014 and 2015. Dr Akkerman’s is the first complete edition of Elizabeth Stuart’s letters: the edition not only presents a fascinating portrait of a pivotal cultural, political and religious figure in early modern Europe, it also provides a mass of new information related to Elizabeth’s correspondence with a far-reaching network of powerful statesmen and women, politicians, diplomats, churchmen and scholars.

Dr Akkerman’s related research projects include: Elizabeth Stuart: A Biography (OUP; forthcoming 2017); Ed. (with Birgit Houben), The Politics of Female Households: Early Modern Ladies-in-Waiting Across Europe (Brill; forthcoming 2014); a book forthcoming in 2015 from Dr Akkerman’s NWO-funded VENI research projectFemale Spies or She-Intelligencers: Towards a Gendered History of Espionage; and a digital resource arising from Women’s Early Modern Letters Online (WEMLO), funded by the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust.

Full details of the plans for the visit will be available soon but will include a public discussion between Dr Akkerman and Professor Lisa Jardine on Challenges for Early Modern Women's History, to be held at the Barber Institute, University of Birmingham, Wednesday 18th June 2014 (16:30-17:30). Dr Akkerman will also be the keynote speaker at a one-day international colloquium, to be held at the Shakespeare Institute, 28th June 2014. The colloquium will bring together international scholars working on various aspects of Cultural Production in Early Modern Households.  Attendance to this event is free, but booking is essential.

Russell Death, Massey University

DeathDr Russell Death, Massey University (14 July - 14 November 2014)

Dr Death is an Associate Professor at Massey University and will be visiting the University of Birmingham 14 July - 14 November 2014 hosted by Dr Mark Ledger and Professor David Hannah from Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Climate change is expected to increase the future occurrence of extreme hydrological events, such as severe droughts with potentially devastating effects on ecosystems, yet to date most ecological research effort has centered on the impacts of gradually shifting ‘average’ conditions, not extremes. Droughts are difficult to study in natural systems because they are, by definition, infrequent. Experiments have been advocated recently as useful tools to explore the ecological impact of climate extremes, and research at the University of Birmingham is at the leading edge of this new trend. We have recently published a body of work in high impact journals which characterises drought effects at higher levels of biological organisation (i.e. food web patterns and processes; e.g. Ledger et al., 2011, 2012, 2013) and we are now beginning new NERC-funded research projects to explore underlying causative mechanisms (e.g. habitat loss, sedimentation, thermal stress etc.), including in our new ECOLAB facility on campus. UoB is also at the leading edge of hydrological research on drought and hydrohazards (as evidenced by the recent IAS workshop and UNESCO-International Hydrology Programme activities), and we are thus ideally situated to bring together hydrology and ecology at cutting edge of research to understand the environmental impacts of extreme events. Two immediate challenges arising from recent work are: 1) to better understand how shifts in food web structure and functioning caused by disturbances (floods, droughts) affect network stability in order to predict long-term responses of ecosystems to climate change, and 2) to upscale the work from patch-scale experiments and move towards prediction by developing modelling approaches which operate at spatial scales and timeframes relevant to managers and policy makers. 

Collaboration with Dr Death a world leading ecohydrologist, will allow significant advances in these key areas. Russell is a senior figure in the field of disturbance ecology with high-level expertise in the artificial intelligence modelling approaches that would allow us to make the leap to a more predictive science.

Full details of the plans for the visit will be available soon but will include work on the submission of manuscripts to internationally peer-reviewed journals, a workshop on the use of artificial intelligence modelling techniques for communicating complex science to managers, a public seminar ‘ Water management issues in the colonies: what can the UK learn from ‘down under’ and a workshop on using Netica and WEKA (both freeware) for statistical modelling in geography and ecology.

Josef Ruppenhofer, Universität Hildesheim

ruppenhoferDr Josef Ruppenhofer, Universität Hildesheim (28 July - 29 August 2014)

Dr Josef Ruppenhofer will visit the University of Birmingham 28 July to 29 August 2014, hosted by Professor John Barnden and Dr Andrew Gargett within Computer Science, and Professors Susan Hunston and Jeannette Littlemore within English Language and Applied Linguistics.

Political conflict is a central, if regrettable, aspect of human experience. Discourse surrounding political conflict provides a window into how such conflict emerges, how it may be sustained or intensify, and even how it may attenuate and finally be resolved. Understanding the patterns of such discourse is, on the one hand, a key aim of academic disciplines such as linguistics and discourse studies, while, on the other hand, automatic discourse understanding is a key goal within Natural Language Processing (NLP).

An on-going collaboration between UoB's departments of Computer Science and English Language and Applied Linguistics aims to combine state-of-the-art technologies to build a corpus recording the syntactic and semantic features of political conflict discourse. To this end, researchers at UoB seek to combine Pattern Grammar (PG) with FrameNet (FN), the former modelling the syntax of individual lexical items, the  latter modelling their meaning. Stage 1 of this project saw the collection of a corpus of online forums involving political conflict discourse and the start of annotation of this corpus for patterns. Stage 2 aims to annotate the corpus for frames, and the results of both stages will yield a unique resource, enabling, for example, investigations of how metaphor and metonymy are used in political conflict discourse (a key research theme at UoB).

In order to achieve the FrameNet annotation, the UoB group is collaborating with Dr Josef Ruppenhofer, a leading FrameNet researcher in Europe. Dr Ruppenhofer is a researcher in the department of Information Science and Natural Language Processing at Hildesheim University, Germany. He works on corpus linguistics and computational linguistics, with a special interest in the development of lexical resources. Beginning with his graduate studies at UC Berkeley, Dr Ruppenhofer has been intensely involved with the FrameNet project and Frame Semantics, a key theoretical cornerstone of FrameNet. More recently, he has focused on sentiment / subjectivity analysis with the goal of extending the FrameNet resource with information relevant for sentiment analysis.

The expertise of Dr Ruppenhofer's hosts at the University of Birmingham in the areas of metaphor and metonymy on the one hand, and evaluation on the other, points to key directions for joint research, such as an investigation of patterns of sentiment and figurative language in political discourse. Discourses of political conflict will constitute the focus of joint analysis efforts that are meant to interact with work on political conflict that is on-going in various units at the University of Birmingham, such as the UoB’s Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security.

Sharon Robinson, University of Wollongon

robinsonProfessor Sharon Robinson, University of Wollongong (16 October - 12 December 2014)

Professor Sharon Robinson is a plant ecophysiologist and climate change biologist. She will be visiting the University of Birmingham 16 October – 12 December 2014.

Her research examines how plants respond to climate change with an integrated systems approach using molecular to ecological techniques. Most recently this includes developing techniques to map plant health and productivity from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). After completing her PhD at University College London in 1990, she held postdoctoral positions at Duke University (USA) and the Australian National University before her appointment as a Lecturer at the University of Wollongong in 1996.

She is currently a member of the United Nations Environment Programme Environmental Effects Assessment Panel, the Australian Research Council College of Experts, the Australian Antarctic Science Advisory Committee and an Editor for the journal Global Change Biology. She first visited Antarctica in 1996 and has since been on 11 expeditions to Casey, Davis, King George Island and Macquarie Island. She is a custodian for the only Antarctic State of the Environment Indicator concerned with Antarctic vegetation and her research group has provided the first evidence that climate change is affecting East Antarctic terrestrial communities. 

Visit her personal website here and follow Sharon on Twitter: @Antarcticmoss



Dr Jennifer Clark, Georgia Institute of Technology

jennifer-clarkDr Jennifer Clark,  Associate Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology.

Jennifer Clark is Associate Professor at the School of Public Policy and Director of the Center for Urban Innovation in the Ivan Allen College at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on regional economic development, manufacturing, industry clusters and innovation. 

Dr. Clark writes, consults, and speaks on the subject of national and regional development policies related to innovation, intellectual property, and manufacturing. She has collaborated on manufacturing and innovation policy projects with a broad range of governments and non-governmental organizations including the OECD, the Canadian government, the UK government, and the US government. 

Dr. Clark publishes work on the development and diffusion of regional policies (including research centers) and their effect on cities and their economic competitiveness.

Her first book, Remaking Regional Economies: Power, Labor, and Firm Strategies in the Knowledge Economy (with Susan Christopherson) won the Best Book Award from the Regional Studies Association in 2009.  Her second book, Basic Methods of Policy Analysis and Planning (with Carl Patton and David Sawicki) was released in 2012 (Pearson) and has been widely adopted in policy and planning courses.  

Her newest book, Working Regions: Reconnecting Innovation and Production in the Knowledge Economy (Routledge, 2013) focuses on policy models aimed at rebuilding the links between innovation and manufacturing in the U.S. She is currently working on The Handbook of Manufacturing Industries in the World Economy (with co-editors John Bryson and Vida Vanchan) to be published by Edward Elgar (with co-editors John Bryson and Vida Vanchan) to be published by Edward Elgar.