Professor Robin Sibson

The University regrets to announce the death of former Vice-Chancellor Professor Robin Sibson who died on Sunday 19 March 2017.

Robin was Vice-Chancellor from September 1994 to August 2001 and, through a range of initiatives, established the framework for today’s University. He created the current structure of schools and departments; began an expansion of student numbers and widening participation with links to associate colleges; and developed higher education provision in Medway leading to creation of a new campus.

In addition, he began to steer the University in its performance of the Research Assessment Exercise and was key to the development of Kent as a European university.

A statistician, who was best known for his research on natural neighbour interpolation, Robin was awarded an honorary degree by the University in 2002.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow said: ‘Robin played an invaluable role in the shaping of the University as we know it today, and we are indebted to him for his vision and foresight. Everyone who knew Robin will be deeply saddened by his death. Our sincere condolences go to his wife Heather and all his family.’

The new Sibson Building was named in recognition of his invaluable contribution to the University.

We are European photography competition

As part of the celebrations for the EU’s official Europe Day in May, the Dean for Internationalisation, Dr Anthony Manning, the Dean for Europe, Professor Roger Vickerman, and the Master of Keynes College, Chloé Gallien, are pleased to launch the ‘We are European’ photography competition.

As the UK’s European university, we are proud of the wide range of activities that the University community is engaged with and the strength of European feeling among colleagues and students from across the globe. The competition is open to University students and staff and participants are encouraged to submit photos that capture the essence of this.

A panel of judges will choose the best entries and these will be exhibited in Keynes College during May and June. There will also be a cash prize for the top three entries (1st – £100; 2nd – £50; 3rd – £25).

Full competition rules can be found here.

Photos should be submitted by the end of the day on Tuesday 18 April to the competition Flickr page. Click for instructions.

Ellen Swift on Roman artefacts and society

Dr Ellen Swift, Reader in Archaeology, in the Department of Classical & Archaeological Studies has published a new book entitled Roman Artefacts and Society: Design, Behaviour and Experience (Oxford University Press, 2017), with research for the book supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship.

Dr Swift uses design theory, previously neglected in Roman archaeology, to investigate Roman artefacts in a new way, making a significant contribution to both Roman social history, and our understanding of the relationships that exist between artefacts and people. Based on extensive data collection and the close study of artefacts from museum collections and archives both in the UK and elsewhere, the book examines the relationship between artefacts and everyday behaviour and experience. The concept of ‘affordances’ -features of an artefact that make possible, and incline users towards, particular uses for functional artefacts – is an important one for the approach taken. This concept is carefully evaluated by considering affordances in relation to other sources of evidence such as use-wear, archaeological context, the end-products resulting from artefact use, and experimental reconstruction. Artefact types explored in the case studies include locks and keys, pens, shears, glass vessels, dice, boxes, and finger-rings, using material mainly drawn from the north-western Roman provinces, with some material also from Roman Egypt.

The book then considers how we can use artefacts to understand particular aspects of Roman behaviour and experience, including discrepant experiences according to factors such as age, social position, and left- or right-handedness, which are fostered through artefact design. The relationship between production and users of artefacts is also explored, investigating what particular production methods make possible in terms of user experience, and also examining production constraints that have unintended consequences for users.

For full details, please see the publisher’s webpage.


Public Engagement with Research at Medway: How can public engagement work for your research?

Public engagement can do wonderful things for research, but what is its scope and how do you get started? Join our informal meeting on Wednesday 22 March in room R2-09 (Rochester Building) from 13.00 to 14.30 to be inspired by colleagues across Schools based at Medway. Our speakers will talk about:

  • Examples of engagement activity undertaken in Music & Fine Art, Sport & Exercise Sciences, Social Work and Social Policy, and Pharmacy
  • The potential benefits of engagement as a researcher/for research
  • Some of the challenges in engagement and how they might be managed
  • Lessons learned that may help you in planning your own engagement activities

These brief summaries will be followed by an open discussion on engagement and the opportunity to ask any questions that you have about colleagues’ work or public engagement in general. A sandwich lunch and refreshments will also be provided.

If you’d like to join us, please let us know by emailing

Extra buses- Exams and Easter

As exam time is approaching the Transport Team, Estates department, are working with Stagecoach to provide extra Uni2 buses on Sundays between 2 April and 4 June 2017.

This means there will be a 24/7 bus service for this period to help you travel to and from the library. See timetable online or on posters at Keynes and Darwin bus stops.

During term-time we provide a 24 hour bus service 6 days a week, serviced by the Uni1, Uni2, 4 and Triangle buses.

The Uni1 and Uni2 buses will also continue to the usual timetable over Easter (8 April to 7 May) despite being outside of term-time. See usual timetable.

CSHE Research Seminar on 30 March – Reluctance to lead?

Sue Burkill from the University of Exeter will present the CSHE Research Seminar titled Reluctance to lead? Viewpoints from a research-intensive university.

The seminar will take place on Thursday 30 March 2017,16.30-17.30 in the UELT Seminar Room (Canterbury Campus)

During her professional career Sue Burkill has been involved in encouraging and nurturing early career academics (ECAs) to develop an interest in educational leadership. Whilst there is existing research into ECA’s attitudes towards their future career trajectories (notably McAlpine and Akerlind 2010), there is a lack of research into how and why ECAs tend to form reluctant attitudes towards educational leadership; the influence this has on their career choices and the implications for related institutional policy and practice. These issues form the focus of my doctoral research in which I have adopted an applied critical realist research methodology (Maxwell 2012; Edwards et al 2014) in order to focus on the complex and often elusive mechanisms and structures in one university.

During this seminar/workshop Sue will contextualise her research before presenting for discussion some key findings from interviews with strategic managers, senior academic leaders and ECAs.

To confirm your attendance at this event please email

Darren Griffin: Celebrating a milestone with a good deed

Genetic disease affects 1 in 50 babies, can lead to stillbirth, miscarriage, pregnancy complications and IVF failure. Young researchers working in this field drive scientific progress in this area. One of the ways in which we can promote their careers is by supporting them to visit other labs, to attend conferences and to present their fascinating research.

Sadly, funds are all too short for allowing them to do this, and so Darren Griffin decided to fundraise to support these young people in enhancing their scientific careers in this fascinating and worthwhile area of science.

Darren recently celebrated his 50th birthday, and, instead of presents, asked friends, family and collaborators to donate to his cause. He said: ‘The idea came from the fact that I was having a big birthday party and didn’t want my house filled up with presents from every guest I was inviting. Bringing opportunities to young scientists is one of the most rewarding parts of my job and I thought there could be no better way to divert any monetary good wishes to and even better good cause. The just giving page was excellent and I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my friends. The money is already about to be put to good use with three of my lab going to a conference in Florence later in the year.’

To date, the fund has exceeded its initial target of £4,000 and continues to grow. You can visit the page at

Step Up to Social Work initiative with KCC and Medway announced

We are pleased to announce Step up to Social Work, our new partnership initiative with Kent County Council and Medway Council.

Social work is a challenging but rewarding career through which you can make a real difference for children and families. You will need to build relationships with families facing difficult times, show a lot of patience and be a good listener. You’ll also need good observational skills, analytical thinking and sound judgement to make the right decisions and protect children. Social work regularly tests resilience, stamina and resolve – all of which you will need to succeed. But social work can be life changing for those you support and help.

Through our successful Step Up to Social Work training programme you’ll get intensive, hands-on experience of working in a real-life social work role. On completion, you will obtain a Diploma in Social Work, allowing you to register and practice as a social worker. We can train you in 14 months, with all your course fees paid, and you’ll also receive a bursary for the duration of the course.

We are looking for strong graduates who have experience of working with children, young people and families and who can demonstrate their maturity and emotional resilience.

Do you have what it takes?

You are eligible if you can demonstrate you already have:

  • A minimum 2:1 level 6 degree qualification.
  • Or, an honours degree plus a higher degree (level 7 or above).


  • Grade C or above GSCE in English/ English Language and Maths (or recognised equivalent).
  • Experience of working with children, young people and families.

For more information visit the Step Up to Social Work information for applicants:

Online applications open 28 March and close 5 May 2017.

PhD student on the relationship between theatre and illness

Lesley Gray, a third-year PhD student in the Department of Comparative Literature, will be presenting a paper at the Doctor, Doctor symposium, which will explore global and historical perspectives on the doctor-patient relationship, at the University of Oxford on Friday 24 March 2017.

Lesley’s paper is entitled ‘Theatre or Therapy? Twenty-four Hours in the “Kingdom of the Sick”‘. She will examine the effectiveness of theatre in tackling our response to serious illnesses, and will ask whether productions like A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer – a 2016 musical that was staged at the National Theatre – can influence our attitudes and behaviours.

The theme of medicine tangentially occurs in Lesley’s own PhD research, with her thesis currently titled What’s the Fascination? An Interdisciplinary Study of Mesmerism and the Dynamics of Power.

For more details, please visit the symposium website: