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Monaco opening for Marine Station

The University’s award-winning Marine Station was formally opened in October by His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco. Prince Albert, who received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University in 2013, flew in to meet staff, students and city leaders during an extensive tour of the £4.85 million waterfront teaching and research facility.

“I was very impressed by the building and the facilities, and everything flows in a wonderful way,” said HSH Prince Albert. “And I was very interested to speak to some of the students and the professors about the work that was being done in the laboratory. They have incredible access here to the marine environment.”

The Prince’s Foundation has funded a number of scientific research studies at the University, and he told CONNECT that the invitation had further deepened his ties to Plymouth.

“To see these dynamic new facilities can only enhance the scope and reach and prestige of the University, and I’m happy to be a small part of it. I hope to return here – I feel at home now!”

Mary Watkins appointed to the House of Lords

“Honoured and truly humbled” was the reaction of Professor Mary Watkins, formerly Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Plymouth University, to the news that she had been made a member of the House of Lords in October.

Professor Watkins – The Baroness Watkins of Tavistock – will sit on the crossbenches after the Independent House of Lords Appointments Commission confirmed the peerage in recognition of her work in nursing, education, social enterprise and housing.

Mary, Emeritus Professor of Healthcare Leadership at the University, retired as Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 2012, but still retains close links to the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, and serves on the Board of Governors. She is also closely involved with the governance of Marine Academy Plymouth, which is sponsored by the University.

She said: “The reaction to the appointment has been wonderful, and I've been inundated with messages of support and engagement. And I'm looking forward to the challenge – as a nurse, I have been driven by the desire to improve patient care; as an academic I aimed to instil that ethos in students; and through my work in mental health and housing I endeavour to ensure that those most in need are considered when developing strategy. I promise to go on championing the contribution of nursing, the University, and the South West in this new and exciting phase of my life.”

Shallow Survey Conference

The Ocean City – and the University – was a fitting venue for Shallow Survey 2015, the 7th International Conference on High Resolution Surveys in Shallow Water. The event, organised by the UK Hydrographic Office and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in partnership with the University, took place in the Roland Levinsky Building from 14 - 18 September.

The event attracted more than 275 professionals from across the international seabed mapping community, who came together to hear and discuss technical papers from leading experts in the field, focusing on data gathered at depths of less than 200m. All areas of the globe were represented, with delegates coming from Japan, Australia, China, Norway, Sweden, America and Canada, as well as the UK.

Preparations for the event started during the summer of 2014, when a number of hydrographic surveys were carried out in and around Plymouth Sound, using a range of methods and equipment. The resulting dataset acted as the key focus for the conference, giving delegates the opportunity to analyse and discuss the merits of the different approaches used.

As well as the conference itself, the Roland Levinsky Building welcomed a trade exhibition, where 44 companies at the cutting edge of this technology showcased their products and services, and there was a gala dinner in the Graduation Marquee on Plymouth Hoe.

Giving The Hive a new buzz

The Hive – the base for the University of Plymouth Students’ Union (UPSU) departments and Executive Officers – has received a vibrant makeover, allowing for students to meet with their representatives in a spacious new environment.

As well as housing all UPSU sports clubs, societies, volunteering and fundraising departments, The Hive now also offers students a brand new study and leisure area.

The previous set-up was popular, but could not comfortably fit in all sports and societies staff. Now, its new layout and bright decor allows all groups to have their own space.

The project was delivered efficiently too, as the UPSU Executive team approached the Project Management Office in May 2015, and refurbishment – down to the last blade of grass – was completed by the end of August.

UPSU President Ruth Titmuss said: “The Hive now says creativity! You can tell when you walk in that this is where students think, socialise and come up with their next big ideas. It’s a great environment, with the colours and grass creating an exciting and vibrant place to be.”

UNESCO honour for sustainability expert

The University’s Professor of Sustainability Education, Stephen Sterling, was invited to attend the inaugural UNESCO-Japan ESD Prize Award Ceremony in Paris, in November. 

The ceremony, held during the 38th UNESCO General Conference, was addressed by the UNESCO Director-General and the Japanese Minister of Education and attended by some 200 delegates, including three Ministers of Education and a number of ambassadors.

Stephen is the co-chair of a five-person expert International Jury that met in the summer to consider over 80 outstanding ESD (education for sustainable development) projects submitted from all over the world for the prestigious award funded by the Japanese government. He has been asked to retain this role for the duration of the prize, for the next four years. 

Stephen has worked closely with UNESCO for more than ten years with regard to its sustainability education policy and programmes, which are now being taken forward as part of the Global Action Programme (GAP) for ESD.

He said: “It is an honour to play my part in this important global initiative to catalyse and celebrate sustainability education around the world. And of course, it reflects very well on Plymouth University’s leadership in the field of sustainability in education.”

Dartmoor expedition of self-discovery for environmental science students

Around 80 second-year students had the chance to push themselves to the limit when they embarked on a two-day expedition of Dartmoor as part of a new module focused on communication and leadership.

Created by Dr Charly Braungardt and Dr Alison Stokes, the module develops a variety of skills, including writing for science and the media, as well as communicating effectively via social media.

Antony Jinman, Explorer in Residence at the University, and experienced expedition-leader Paul Hart both led the trip in October, where the students were split into groups and given a variety of leadership tasks, including coordinating a search alongside the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team.

Charly said: “Environmental scientists really need to be able to develop arguments and communicate complex ideas if they’re going to engage the public and their peers once they start their careers. But many of today’s undergraduates arrive at university without having developed these important attributes – we’re trying to address that and also push our students to discover something about themselves.”

Cut and Paste 

The recent Cut and Paste exhibition, in the Peninsula Arts Gallery, brought to campus the work of Ivan Chermayeff, a world-renowned graphic designer. Co-founder of New York design agency Chermayeff & Geismar, Ivan is responsible for some of the most memorable logos and branding of modern times, including the Mobil ‘O’, National Geographic and Smithsonian. The exhibition was curated by David Smart, Associate Professor in Graphic Communication, in association with De La Warr Pavilion, in Bexhill, and included a stunning set of posters for Mobil, editorial design, brand identity and some remarkable vibrant collages.