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Monday 27 January 2020, 5:30pm-7pm - Room 009, Prospect Building, Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's - To register visit eventbrite

In her professorial lecture, Professor Debs Patten will outline the developments in anatomy teaching and learning during her career and how the use of technology in clinical practice is driving undergraduate curriculum development.

As Professor of Anatomy, Debs Patten is responsible for establishing the new anatomy facility and developing and delivering the anatomy teaching strategy in our new MBChB Medicine course, as well as other undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the University.

Professor Patten graduated from the University of Sheffield (Anatomy and Cell Biology) and gained a PhD in Neuropharmacology from the University of Durham and a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice from the University of Southampton.

Anatomy is her passion and her career in higher education spans almost 20 years. She has previously worked in anatomy teaching departments at St. George’s University Hospital in London and the Universities of Southampton, Durham and Newcastle. During this time she has led and delivered cadaveric anatomy teaching to undergraduate and postgraduate students in medicine, allied healthcare and bioscience programs, as well as designing and delivering anatomy teaching in many CPD courses for healthcare professionals and in student engagement events.

Her academic research interests and publications are focused on medical education research, particularly related to innovations in anatomy teaching, learning and assessments. More broadly, she is interested in curriculum development which includes the development of an undergraduate ultrasound curriculum to prime medical students for later encounters with Point of Care Ultrasound.

In her professorial lecture, she will outline the developments in anatomy teaching and learning during her career and how the use of technology in clinical practice is driving undergraduate curriculum development.

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Wednesday 29 January, 10am-12pm – Prospect Builidng

Pop along to our drop-in session to find out more about scholarships available to current students with DOSH (Development Office Scholarships):

DOSH scholarships currently available are:

The Futures Fund – open to all current students (up to £2,500)

The Hope Winch Scholarship – open to undergraduate Pharmacy students (up to £1,000)

The Silver Fund - open to all current students (up to £2,500) 

The Sir Cowie Scholarship Programme (from 31 January) - Business and Education students (£10,000)

If you would like to find out more about the scholarships available to current student from our Development Office go to:

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Life and Lim

Journalism student Ryan Lim is one of the youngest recruits to boost the ranks of a life-saving coastal search team in Sunderland.

Ryan, 25, is part of the city’s Volunteer Life Brigade who keep watch on the coast at Roker in and liaise with the coastguard and lifeboats.

They recently appealed for more volunteers.

Ryan has been with the brigade's rescue team on round the clock stand-by since the summer.

The third-year student, originally from Singapore, had been visiting for a news story he had been writing for the University’s SR News when the crew asked if he would like to join them.

Ryan said: “Every Wednesday I’m down there training and doing search and rescue exercises off the coast.”

More volunteers are needed to monitor the coast from the watch house and to run the brigade's museum.

Ryan, who is due to graduate next summer, says he has enjoyed his three years in Sunderland.

He added: “The programme has given me a good grounding in kickstarting you into the industry.”

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DOSH: Daga climbs to success

Daga Dygas, 22, graduated BA Digital Film Production last summer and was awarded a Futures Fund Scholarship, one of the many scholarship available from DOSH (Development Office Scholarship).

Daga used her scholarship to travel Norway to create a documentary about a remarkable man, who returned to ice climbing ten years after a serious accident.

“Learning how to apply for funding and how to manage a budget are skills that not many people think about when they start making films. These skills are really vital if you want to make something you love your career.”

The Futures Fund Scholarship is now open to all students - apply by noon Friday 17 January.

If you would like to find out more about the scholarships available to current student from our Development Office go to:

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It can be a difficult to achieve the heights of your ambitions, but one young graduate has quite literally climbed to the top to reach her career goal.

Daga Dygas, originally from Poland and now based in Sunderland, graduated BA Digital Film Production at the University of Sunderland earlier this year. The young graduate combined her two loves, rock climbing and documentary film making, when earlier this year she climbed frozen waterfalls in Norway to create a documentary about a remarkable man.

“I got involved in climbing about 10 years ago, and I had been taking photos for a long time, but at first I had never linked it to climbing,” says Daga, 22. “One day that idea just clicked and climbing photography seemed like the obvious thing for me to do.”

As well as photography Daga soon widened her portfolio to documentary film making, including a short film about former GB Paraclimbing Team member and trainee teacher Esme Harte.

The inspiration for Daga’s most recent film struck at a climbing wall when she met John and his wife. She got to know the couple and discovered that John had suffered a brain injury from complications following an accident while ice climbing in Canada.

“John had been unable to walk, and had to relearn writing, using utensils, all the things you would just take for granted.

“After a year or more I finally persuaded him to tell his story on camera.

“It was then that I discovered that exactly ten years after his accident John was going to Norway to ice climb again. And I really wanted to follow him and film that journey.”

Apart from the technical and logistical issues of getting to Norway to tell John’s story, Daga, a student at the time, knew that it would be impossible for her to pay for flights, accommodation and the extra equipment she would need. She approached the University’s Development Office, and applied for a DOSH (Development Office Scholarships) award.

“The lack of a budget really worried me,” says Daga.  “I had some good interviews, but I knew I had to get the footage of ice climbing – it’s not something you can shoot in your back garden.”

The University’s Development Office awarded Daga her DOSH scholarship, and exactly ten years after John’s accident Daga headed to Norway with the couple to film them climb ice.

“Technically and logistically it was a challenge. I thought I could just lower myself from the top of an icefall – but I soon discovered it wasn’t possible. In order to be safe, I had to go to the bottom of the frozen waterfall and climb to the top with all of my equipment, set up at the top, and then lower myself to where I wanted to film from. It was a great learning experience.

“I got a lot out of it, both as an adventure filmmaker and a documentary filmmaker. Preparation was difficult, it’s not as if there’s a lot of ice climbing in England, never mind Sunderland! And of course if someone is waiting for you to set up in the cold Norwegian winter, you want to be as efficient as possible. 

“I practiced setting up at home and a local climbing wall, but the big test was whether I could still do all of that half way up a frozen waterfall.”

Daga is still editing her documentary, and hoping to show the finished film around festivals in the New Year – many of which are specifically mountain film festivals.

“There are some mountain film festivals in the UK alone, and many more in Europe, and the wider world, and I’m sending the film to some of them; hopefully I’ll get to go to a few.

“My experience reached beyond the shoot in Norway, and really taught me a lot about being a professional. It has given me confidence and shooting experience, but not just that: learning how to apply for funding and how to manage a budget are skills that not many people think about when they start making films. These skills are really vital if you want to make something you love your career, and I intend to.”

Two University of Sunderland academics are causing a splash with an optical illusion.

Dr Mike Pickard and Gurpreet Singh were finalist in this year's international visual science competition Best Illusionist of the Year.

Their illusion, 'Chunder Thunder', is a painting of an old sailing ship in stormy seas that seemingly comes to life - but infact uses minute changes in perspective to give the illusion of movement.

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Its description on the competition website explains: “In this illusion, the 17th Dutch marine artist Ludolf Bakhuizen’s painting “Ships on a Stormy Sea” is seemingly bought to life.

“The ship appears to be tossed around on a raging sea in a wild storm where the waves surge past and the clouds scud across the sky.

"With the hatches battened down, the crew are experiencing a roller coaster ride! However, this impression of wild motion is illusory.”

To develop the illusion, the Sunderland academics moved all the elements of the painting forwards by a tiny amount and then back by the same amount.

However, that by itself would only make the image flicker, and wouldn’t create the illusion of movement.

Instead, the addition of dark and light flashes makes the boat appear to lurch back and forth in the water.

The researchers explained: “The directional motion seen in this illusion is achieved using positive and negative images and different luminance levels.

“Visually, this favours the forward motions seen so that an overall impression of continuous motion is created.”

The Best Illusion of the Year Contest, hosted by the Neural Correlate Society, is now an annual online event.

Gurpeet Singh, the Principal Lecturer and team Leader for Design at the University, and Dr Mike Pickard are researching the link between visual science knowledge and art and design practice.

A Sunderland academic has been elected as the chair of the BCS Academy Board which is one of the senior volunteering roles within BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. Running concurrently with the Chair of the Academy Board is the position of Vice President of the BCS Academy.

Professor Alastair Irons, Academic Dean for Faculty of Technology at the University of Sunderland, takes up his new role with  BCS after the AGM in March 2020 for a three-year tenure. BCS is the leading professional body for those working in Information Technology with over 70,000 members in more than 100 countries.

The organisation’s core purpose is to advance knowledge in computing that benefits the public. BCS promotes the benefits, successes and challenges of computer science through public engagement and works to establish computing as a core academic discipline at every level of education.

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Having already served as Newcastle Branch Chair of BCS, and Chair of the BCS Academic Accreditation Committee, Prof Irons is no stranger to supporting and promoting the values and principal aims of the organisation.

Delighted to be taking on the new national role of chair, he said: “It is a privilege to be involved with BCS in this position and provides an opportunity to work with colleagues in academic and industry to help enhance the professionalism of computing and contribute to the challenges facing the IT industry.”

Prof Irons brings to the role wide-ranging experiences and research interests in computing and computer science with specialisms in the fields of digital forensics, cybercrime and cyber security. In addition to his new role, Alastair also serves on the boards of DYNAMO and the North East Fraud Forum, is on the advisory board for NE Digital Catapult and is a trustee for the NE Futures UTC.

About BCS Academy Board

BCS Academy Board is a partnership between BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, the Council of Professors and Heads of Computing (CPHC) and the UK Computing Research Committee (UKCRC). The Academy Board reports to the Institute’s Trustee Board.

The BCS fosters links between experts from industry, academia and business to promote new thinking, education and knowledge sharing through continuing professional development and a series of respected IT qualifications, the organisation seeks to promote professional practice tuned to the demands of business. It provides practical support and information services to its members and volunteer communities around the world.

BCS collaborates with government, industry and relevant bodies to establish good working practices, codes of conduct, skills frameworks and common standards. It also offers a range of consultancy services to employers to help them adopt best practice.

Elena Theodoratou, 21, from Athens in Greece, is in the third year of her MPharm Pharmacy degree, was awarded a Hope Winch Scholarship, one of the many scholarship available from DOSH (Development Office Scholarship).

Elena used her scholarship to help pay her expenses so she could continue to live and work in Sunderland over the summer.

“I plan to stay in the UK when I graduate, and I’d really like to work in industry.”

The Hope Winch Scholarship is now open to Pharmacy students - apply by noon Friday 31 January.

If you would like to find out more about the scholarships available to current student from our Development Office go to:

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“The university I was accepted into in Greece wasn’t my first choice, so I decided to study my foundation year in Greece and then come to Sunderland to study pharmacy.

“I really like it here.  It’s a difficult course, but it’s what I really want to do. I used the Hope Winch Scholarship to pay my rent so I could stay in Sunderland in June and July.

“I plan to stay in the UK when I graduate, and I’d really like to work in industry.”

Keeping mum about motherhood

Modern society’s representation of motherhood is placing unrealistic expectations on women’s identity and undermining their sense of self, a new study has found.

Mothers of all ages were given the opportunity to tell their own stories and share experiences of the transition into motherhood to researchers at the University of Sunderland. From this, the findings identified how complex and difficult transitioning into the role was and the importance of deconstructing the myths around being the perfect parent.

When the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, stood on the steps of St Mary’s Hospital in London, shortly after given birth to her third child, she was revered in the media for her postpartum perfection, despite the result being down to the intensive efforts of a whole team of people.

However, these images and similar impressions of mums being able to simply ‘snap back’ after giving birth are placing unrealistic expectations on new mothers, the study found, amongst a whole of host of other pressures being felt as they navigate the journey of motherhood.

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Criminology lecturer Samantha Reveley, who led the research: Deconstructing Myths of Motherhood: Young Women and the Making of Positive Future Selves, said all the women found the interview process both therapeutic and emotional, and finally felt their voices were being heard about the realities of motherhood.

“As I interviewed each woman about their new role, which had completely changed their perspective of themselves and the world around them, there was a very common theme running through – trying to meet everyone else’s expectations because of what we are socialised to think and supposed to be as a woman and as a mother.

“The way they felt things were going to be wasn’t actually how they were. They talked about  the pressure of going back to work soon after giving birth while balancing baby duties, looking after the house, conforming to that very natural earth mother role, breastfeeding, relationship pressures; they felt if they didn’t conform to these pressures they would be marginalised and seen as poor parents.”

She added: “Social media has also had such an influence on negative perceptions, especially when we’re talking about Instagram and influencers looking perfect all through pregnancy, simply ‘snapping back’ into shape weeks after giving birth. This creates a lot of insecurities and low self-esteem about your new self of sense and new body. It’s not the reality. These are ridiculous expectations placed on women. The image of Kate Middleton hours after the birth of Louis sparked a movement on social media of women posting the reality of what it’s actually like after birth. This was incredibly empowering to confront those myths.”

The study found many of the women described feelings of guilt because they struggled to meet their own expectations of motherhood.

Joanne, 25

“Everyone else was doing amazing and then there was me.. struggling to get out of bed in the morning, nevermind look after the baby. I was forcing myself to get up and do my hair and make-up and just to keep going through the motions and smiling. If people asked how I was I would say how wonderful being a mum was and how much I loved doing it because they didn’t really want to know. It was ridiculous, but I didn’t feel like I could say anything without people thinking I was a bad mum.”

Some of the women, struggled with mothering practices such as breastfeeding and others struggled with the guilt of wanting time for themselves.

Lucy, 31

“I had to go back to work pretty much straight away. He was only four months old, but we couldn’t afford for me not to work. It was a nightmare, I went from being in this great little bubble with the baby to all of a sudden being back at work and having to worry about childcare, food shopping, washing, work. I just couldn’t cope with having to be everything and everywhere all at once. I ended up having a breakdown before I could accept that enough was enough and something had to give.”

All of the women reported changes in their relationships with their partner, friends and family. Several of the women experienced relationship breakdown and attributed this to the different adaption of their partners to parenthood. The women described how they drifted from many of their friends, however, they became much closer to their own mothers.


Louise, 27

“My partner wasn’t a hands-on dad. I did the night feeds, the nappy changes etc. He was just there. The relationship changed because we had someone to look after but I was the only one actually looking after him. It was my life that changed. I couldn’t just go out with my friends when I wanted to, but he still did. A lot.”

Many of the women initially felt profound self-doubt in their mothering abilities. Over time, however, their confidence grew as they saw for themselves that they were capable of caring for their babies.

Lucy, 31

“I just hadn’t done anything for me since becoming a mum. Everything always revolved around the baby and doing things for him. When I actually started to go and do stuff for myself it felt amazing and really helped me find myself again as clichéd as that sounds.”

As they became more comfortable with their role as a mother it helped to stabilise their identities. All of the women described a sense of loss as they transitioned into motherhood.

Claire, 21

“I feel like since I have had children I’ve lost who I am because now I am on the school run I am just known as Jake or Daniel’s mam. You don’t really have an identity anymore. If someone wants to be speak to you you’re just referred to as so and so’s mam.”

They described how those around them consistently reduced them down to only their role as a mother, with this reduction contributing to this sense of loss.

Lecturer Samantha explained: “It was not until they adjusted to their new role as a mother that they were able to begin to establish a balance between being a mother and being their own individual person.”

Four key themes emerged from this research: emotional turmoil, reconstructing relationships, getting comfortable with baby and rediscovering the self.

“Each of these themes linked to periods of identity change as the women negotiated points of instability on their journey to incorporate motherhood into their reality, “ explained Samantha.

“The research showed that the transition into motherhood is a complex and multi-faceted process which requires extensive identity reformulation.”

To read the full study click here.

Becoming mum: exploring the emergence and Formulation of a mother’s identity during the transition into motherhood is published in: Childbearing and the Changing Nature of Parenthood: The Contexts, Actors, and Experiences of Having Children. Emerald Publishing, Bingley, pp. 23-51. (In Press)

Samantha Reveley (pictured) is a Lecturer in Criminology, Criminology Admissions Tutor and Personal Tutor for Level 4 Criminology students. She is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Samantha’s expertise centers on criminological and sociological theory, with her teaching being focused within these areas. She is currently completing her PhD which is funded by the ESRC and explores how young people reformulate their identity as they transition through the desistance process and cease offending. 

She is also the Scheme Coordinator for Northumbria Local Appropriate Adult Scheme which works to support vulnerable offenders in police custody.

PhD announcement

The following student has been awarded the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy:

Roxanne Armstrong-Moore

"Providing Recommendations For A Workplace-Initiated Intervention To Reduce Alcohol Use In Retirement: Views Of Older Drinkers and Occupational Health Professionals."

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When he was a student Nick Smith launched a university TV station after convincing staff who said it could never be done.

Two decades on and the station continues to thrive, while Nick has taken that unshakeable resolve to build himself a massively successful career in the media industry.

Now, the 41-year-old is set to take up another role to add to his impressive CV – as a Visiting Professor at the University of Sunderland.

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Nick, from London, said: “Before I got into this industry I don’t think I’d ever met anyone from it before.

“So, if nothing else, I hope my time at Sunderland will allow the students to feel like they can connect with me and I can answer any questions they might have about possible future careers.”

Visiting Professor Nick Smith 

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcasting, Nick joined the BBC’s Format Entertainment Development Team which was responsible for developing new entertainment shows for the BBC.

He would spend his days in rooms with colleagues, brainstorming and coming up with innovative ideas for new TV programmes, which they would then go on to pitch to executives.

Shows that Nick was instrumental in developing during this period included the prime time BBC1 commissions:

  • Strictly Come Dancing
  • Strictly Dance Fever
  • Hard Spell
  • Just the Two of Us
  • Come and Have a Go If You Think You’re Smart Enough

Speaking of the phenomenon that became Strictly Come Dancing, Nick said: “There was a lot of discussion about how we could take the format of the old Come Dancing programme, which had been a BBC staple for so many years, and turn it into something different.

“Our job was to figure out how that could work. There was a lot of brainstorming about bringing in celebrities and making it a competition.

“I don’t think any of us could have predicted the success the show would go on to.”

As his career progressed, Nick took a change of tack and joined all3media international (a3mi) as the second member of their fledgling formats team.

All3media grew to become the largest independent producer in the UK and Nick is now responsible for the acquisition, roll-out strategy and international execution of numerous TV shows including Undercover Boss (30 international adaptations) and Gogglebox (37 international adaptations).

Nick said: “It’s good to be working with so many different types of people and so many different types of broadcasters across the world.

“It’s a real eye-opener and you learn a lot about the world. For example, seeing how Gogglebox translates into so many different countries, each with their own individual senses of humour.”

Recently Nick helped strike an industry reverberating deal with Netflix to produce international versions of reality show The Circle on their platform around the world, and has taken delight in international versions of Employable Me being nominated and winning prestigious awards including Venice TV Awards, Der Deutsche Fernsehpreis, New York Festival Awards, Gimme Preis, and Rockie Awards.

Throughout his career, the issue of diversity has always been one close to Nick’s heart.

He said: “When I first entered the industry, and even though I was raised in London, I noticed a massive lack of diversity around me. The industry was very white, very middle-class and very male driven – I felt it did not reflect the London I grew up in.

“I hope that’s changing and I hope I can show the students at Sunderland that people from all different types of backgrounds can succeed.

“I see this as a collaboration, an opportunity to share experiences and work together.”

Lee Hall, Head of the School of Media and Communications at the University of Sunderland, said: “Nick Smith is a stellar addition to our exclusive list of visiting professors and brings vast experience in TV formats to the table.

"He is a champion for under-represented voices in media and a huge supporter of talented people, irrespective of their background or where they were born.

"He is a great friend to the University and our students are so fortunate to have access to his insight."

Team Sunderland are collecting food, gifts, toys and toiletries for Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen.

All this month Team Sunderland’s sports teams have been donating sports kit towards the cause and now Team Sunderland are calling for more donations to add to the collection.

Food being accepted are non-perishable items such as canned foods and soups, pasta, nuts, rice etc.

Team Sunderland will be taking donations until 12pm on Friday 20 December.

Team Sunderland Student Engagement Officer Dan Kendal said: “This is a great cause, after seeing some of the other work done in the community it seemed a no brainer to try and help those less fortunate this Christmas.

“Thank you to everyone that has donated so far.”

Collection points are at the Team Sunderland office on City Campus and Gateway on St Peter’s Campus.

Any queries please contact Dan Kendal at

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Sunderland students have turned £25 into thousands of pounds for a local charity, as part of an annual business challenge.

Starting with £25, teams of students from the Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism, worked together to raise as much money as they could in four weeks. 140 students comprising 36 teams took part in the Take £25 Business Challenge in aid of the Children’s Foundation, Newcastle, and raised £6,822.

The winning team of Business and Management students are Rachael Bunker, 19, from Houghton Le Spring, Jack Goldsmith, 18, from Sunderland, Jessica Graham, 20, from Sunderland and Kate Hoyland, 20, from Shotton Colliery.  Their team, Together We Thrive, raised £1,100 by offering special CrossFit workouts in Durham, booked via an app, with a workout themed around “25”.

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The team said: ‘We had so much fun taking part. It’s great to know that this money will help so many children across the North East and we would like to thank both the University and The Children’s Foundation for this invaluable opportunity.”

The Take £25 Business Challenge was supported by IST Plus, Santander Bank and Richard Reed Solicitors, Sunderland.

Phillip Moir, Director at Richard Reed Solicitors in Sunderland, said: “Richard Reed Solicitors were delighted to support the students in the Take 25 Challenge for the Children’s Foundation. The total was exceptional, achieved due to teams showing dedication and teamwork.”

Professor Lawrence Bellamy, Dean of the Faculty of Business, Law & Tourism, said: “Building the Take25 Challenge into our curriculum is a quadruple win. The staff are absolutely committed to supporting the student do well, and seeing student learning and success is such a reward for them. The students are challenged to develop and deploy a great range of enterprise skills.  The sponsors get the recognition they deserve and multiply their contribution, and of course the Children’s Foundation. It’s an amazing all round outcome.”

Module Leader, Joel Arnott added: “The students have engaged wholeheartedly this year, effectively applying their employment skills and knowledge to make a real impact on the lives of children in the region.”

L-R Rachael Bunker and Jack Goldsmith (students) Armelle Wollo (The Children's Foundation) Phil Moir and Amber Holt (Richard Reed Solicitors), Susan Jonas (The Children's Foundation) and students Jessica Graham and Kate Hoyland.

Review of the Year

From a new School of Medicine to the biggest financial donation in its history, it’s been a busy 12 months for the University of Sunderland.

As we prepare to say goodbye to 2019, we take a look back at the key events of the past 12 months and find out why the University is stronger and more successful than ever.

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Welcoming new Professor of Anatomy:

A new year meant a fresh start as we said ‘hello’ to the School of Medicine’s latest signing – Sunderland academic, Professor Debs Patten.

After years honing her unique skills in different parts of the country, Debs returned to her Wearside roots to join our new medical school team.

It was an opportunity she had dreamed of; the chance to be part of a pioneering new School that aims to educate, support and change the lives of students.

But, more than that, it also offers Debs the chance to give something back. Like her, many of the incoming new medics will come from diverse, non-traditional backgrounds.

In fact, Debs knows the hurdles students, who perhaps do not fit the ‘classic’ medical school criteria, face. Growing up in Ryhope, she attended St Patrick’s Primary School in the village before heading to St Anthony’s Girls’ School in the heart of the

Education boss helping attract teachers

This month saw the Department for Education publish their much-awaited Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy in response to concerns over workloads.

Professor Lynne McKenna, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society, has been playing a key role in creating a new model in teacher training.

As part of the MillionPlus Deans of Education Network, Lynne has been closely involved with the development of Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) reforms.

Lynne helped to propose a new model for Teacher Training which closely links the Early Career Framework to Masters level study and qualifications.

£1.3million boost for business leaders of the future

The University launched a new project worth more than £1.3million this month to help student and graduate entrepreneurs turn their business dreams into reality.

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) scheme at the University’s Enterprise Place aimed to expand on the many success stories from their previous projects that ran from 2015 until 2018.

The Enterprise Place acts as the perfect environment for students, graduates and staff of the University to start their own business, bringing together budding entrepreneurs at all stages of their development and providing free hot-desking space, business advice, structured interactive workshops, up to £1,000 of funding as well as PR and networking opportunities.

Five years in vogue for Fashion North

The popular fashion and beauty website, created and run by students studying Fashion Journalism at the University celebrated a milestone.

Launched back in December 2013, with the full online launch in January 2014, the site is playing a key role in helping students break into the highly competitive fashion world.

Five years on, it remains a force to be reckoned with videos, podcasts and content, helping set the fashion agenda.

New visiting professor welcomed

This month, one of the UK’s most prolific weight-loss surgeons was honoured by the University of Sunderland.

Kamal Mahawar is passionate about the North East and the people who live here.

Besides from his birthplace of Kolkata in India, the Sunderland Royal Hospital consultant has spent more time living in the region more than any other place in the world.

One of the UK’s leading bariatric surgeons, he has now been given the honorary title of Visiting Professor at the University of Sunderland.

Exclusive partnership signed with aircraft giant

A world-leading airport passenger and cargo service announced an exclusive partnership with the University in January.

Swissport International Ltd, a global leader in airport passenger ground services, ground and air cargo service, are now playing a key role in supporting students seeking careers in the aviation sector.

The Tourism, Hospitality and Events department became a member of the Swissport Academy which will provide exclusive graduate recruitment opportunities for the University’s students.


Students immerse themselves in cold water therapy

It wasn’t what you might expect to see on a cold February morning – six students jumping into the North Sea.

But this wasn’t just some random winter dip, but rather the group were taking part in Cold Water Immersion, a therapy which aims to offer the brave participants a whole host of health benefits.

Everything from anxiety and depression to muscle repair and happiness levels can apparently benefit from a freezing adventure.

So this group of hardy students from the University were keen to take part in the first immersion therapy session held at Roker Beach in Sunderland during February.

The scheme proved so successful it was repeated several times throughout 2019.

Meet miracle Linzi

This is the month we met University student Linzi Saunders.

In the 21 years of her life, Linzi has had her life saved three times thanks to transplant surgery.

Struck down by leukaemia aged 18-months, doctors gave her just a 40% chance of survival.

Twenty years on, the Fine Art student nominated fellow student and close friend Kevin Rudkin for a Rate Your Mate award. The awards aim to shine a light on hard working students who go above and beyond in their studies, life and work while at the University.

Linzi’s remarkable story starts not long after she was born. Diagnosed with two different complex types of leukaemia, medics decided they had no option but to try new research medication, with Linzi becoming the first patient to undergo this type of treatment.

It was then decided that a bone marrow transplant would be needed and all Linzi’s family were tested to see if they would be possible donors.

Her brother, James, proved a perfect match but, despite a successful transplant, the new treatment Linzi was receiving began affecting her heart and she went on to develop cardiomyopathy by the age of eight.

It was a condition doctors could not ignore and while still a pupil at Ryhope Junior School in Sunderland, Linzi was told she would need a new heart.

Put onto the NHS Organ Donor Register, she waited five weeks before being told that a donor heart had been found.


Our nurses are the best

This month we discovered the University had been nominated for two prestigious national awards.

We were shortlisted at this year’s Student Nursing Times Awards for Nurse Education provider of the Year (Pre-reg) and for Partnership of the Year.

The Awards celebrate the very best in nurse education, recognises and rewards brilliant educational establishments and honours those who are committed to developing new nursing talent.

New face

Professor Jon Timmis was appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor (Commercial) at the University.

He is looking after marketing, recruitment, and communications among many other roles as part of his remit.

Culture coup

Arts leaders this month praised Sunderland for its innovative partnership approach to culture-led regeneration.

The Cultural Cities Enquiry describes Sunderland as a pioneer of culture partnerships and urges other areas to learn from the setting up of Sunderland Culture.


New key role at University announced

One of the region’s leading consultants in elderly medicine and a much-loved mentor to dozens of junior doctors for almost two decades started a new role at the University’s School of Medicine.

Dr Andy Davies who also heads up the Falls and Syncope Service and is a consultant in elderly medicine at Sunderland Royal Hospital, was appointed Undergraduate Programme Lead by the University.

In this role, Dr Davies leads on delivering the underpinning principles of the new school.

Dr Davies has been involved in teaching and training since 1997 and is regional Foundation Programme Director with responsibility for doctors with differing needs across all the nine acute trusts in the North East and Cumbria.

Girl power

Women rule the school at the University of Sunderland and they proved that on International Women’s Day.

We asked a selection of our leading female experts to share their views.

And we weren’t short of academics to talk to.

Professor Lynne McKenna, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society; Debs Patten, Professor of Anatomy at the new School of Medicine; Professor Arabella Plouviez, Dean of Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries; Angela Smith, Professor of Language and Culture; Clarissa Smith, Professor of Sexual Cultures; and Alumni Achiever of 2018 and University of Sunderland Lecturer in Illustration Holly Sterling, were all happy to share their experiences.

University professor on why we love bad TV

This month Professor Angela Smith discussed the issue of 21st century reality television in her book Belligerent Broadcasting.

From The Jeremy Kyle Show to Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares; from The Apprentice USA to Dragons’ Den, all these programmes possess the ‘in-your-face’ factor designed to provoke and entertain, according to Angela.

The professor’s expertise on broadcasting would make international headlines later in the year when she discussed the demise of the Jeremy Kyle Show with media from across the world.

Pioneering research wins funding from Google

A pioneering app that aims to tackle abuse on social media won funding from search engine giant Google during March.

Academics from the University received the money to help towards the SMART – Social Media Abuse Research Tool – project which aimed to support journalists investigating online hate speech.

The project is a collaboration between journalism and computing specialists at the University. They will make a prototype app that will be usable by journalists who have little or no knowledge of coding or programming.

The app will allow users to filter and locate abusive social media posts according to time-frames, types of abuse, and various other factors.

Last year, University research played a key role in revealing how high-profile Tory women were targeted for more sexist abuse on Twitter than their Labour counterparts, during the 2017 General Election.

The research found 93% of the misogynistic tweets sent to frontbench female politicians during the campaign were directed at Conservatives - mainly then Prime Minister, Theresa May.

Government minister praises University

Jonathan Slater, Permanent Secretary for the Department of Education, paid a visit to the University in March where he heard inspiring student stories.

Mr Slater spent time with staff, as well as current and former students during a flying visit to the University’s Helen McArdle House.

The education boss later said: “It was inspiring to hear from students about the support they get from the University to genuinely achieve their potential.”

As well as University Vice Chancellor Sir David Bell, Mr Slater met those who had transformed their lives through programmes they are taking – or have taken.

Vice Chancellor’s Hong Kong visit

We revealed there were more than 4,500 students worldwide studying for a UoS qualification.

The figures came as the University’s Vice Chancellor, Sir David Bell, travelled thousands of miles for his first visit to the institution’s Hong Kong campus.

Sir David said: “Our Hong Kong campus has nearly 600 part-time students studying there. We offer a wide variety of programmes, usually to people in work who want to enhance their job prospects. Our location in the business district puts us in an excellent position to respond to the changing needs and demands of both employers and employees.”

Two years ago the University’s international footprint took a big step forward when it launched the Hong Kong campus.

Celebrating success in London

This month we saw hundreds of students from our London Campus celebrating graduation success.

More than 400 guests were invited to the Hilton Hotel, Marsh Wall South Quay Square, London, to witness friends and family celebrating one of the biggest days of their lives.

The University’s Vice Chancellor, Sir David Bell gave a special message ahead of the celebrations.

He said: “I know how much students in London are really enthusiastic about the University and I know this is going to be a great celebration, a happy day for everyone.”

The Academic Awards saw 228 students graduating.

Life changing research

A rare disease of the jaw which can lead to reconstructive surgery could be prevented if healthcare professionals improve their communication, research at the University found this month.

Lead researcher Andrew Sturrock, Principal Lecturer and Programme Leader for the Master of Pharmacy programme at the University has been heading the researchers.

Osteonecrosis, which means death of bone tissue, can develop in the jaw following certain dental procedures, such as tooth extractions, in some patients who are prescribed certain medicines, known as bisphosphonates, for the treatment of osteoporosis and cancer.

A team of researchers at the University carried out a study into the disease, and the impact it had on patients’ lives, funded by Pharmacy Research UK and a UK Clinical Pharmacy Association Clinical Research Grant.


Special access gives students a unique view of engineering

A rare opportunity was offered to University of Sunderland students when they paid a visit to Kielder Reservoir in Northumberland.

The group of 11 engineering students were given special access to the dam at Kielder by Northumbrian Water so they could learn more about the operational aspects of the facility.

The undergraduates met with staff from the water company who explained the workings of the facility including how the 70m tall valve tower, which is sited in the middle of the Reservoir, controls the flow of water from the dam into the nearby North Tyne.

Hope Street Xchange brings jobs hope

It was revealed this month that the University’s Hope Street Xchange has exceeded expectation, smashing yearly growth targets set by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

In their yearly gross jobs figures, the £10m Centre for Enterprise and Innovation surpassed forecasted figures by 233%, boasting 121 jobs connected to the intervention, as well as 56 new businesses trading from the area – more than double the proposed number. 

The University’s Hope Street Xchange received £4.9million from the Local Growth Fund and a further £2.23 million from the European Regional Development Fund, with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) therefore setting targets in a bid to promote development within the city.

Student’s work goes viral

This month artist Kathryn Robertson was the talk of Sunderland.

The 24-year-old’s work hit the headlines when a tea towel featuring one of her designs was photographed at exotic locations around the world by traveller Helen Wilson.

In April, the student unveiled a Mackem mural in the University’s Priestman Building. Buildings in the city which often go unnoticed, such as the Elephant Tea Rooms, as well as lost buildings such as The Grand Hotel and Vaux, feature in the piece, alongside more well-known landmarks such as Wearmouth Buildings and the trio of distinctive high rise flats at The Bridges.

North East ink

The multi-faceted role of the tattoo artist was put under the microscope for one PhD student who is turning his passion into a career.

Adam McDade is combining working in a North East tattoo studio with research into the production and design of the art he creates on people’s bodies.

Adam, 29, is himself no stranger to tattoos, having much of his own body covered with ink.

“I’ve now got tattoos on my feet, ankles, legs, calves, thighs, chest, arms, hands and fingers.

Adam himself has been tattooing other people professionally for the past 14 months at Triplesix studios in Fawcett Street, Sunderland; experience which he is now using as research for his PhD.


City by the Sea inspires artists

Artists from the University have played a key role in a new city centre exhibition called City by the Sea.

The project brought together University creatives, local and regional painters, and schools, to produce an exhibit which celebrates the opening of The Beam, the first new development on the Vaux site.

The artworks have been produced on surfboards which will be displayed on the site.

Academics and students from the University have contributed their talents to help produce five of the surfboards.

Goodbye Steve, and hello Emeli

This month we said goodbye to Steve Cram who announced he was stepping down as Chancellor of the University after 11 years in the role.

During his time as Chancellor, Steve officiated at more than 100 graduation ceremonies and personally congratulated over 30,000 students as they crossed the stage at the Stadium of Light to receive their academic awards.

In the same month we said hello to multi-platinum selling singer and songwriter Emeli Sandé MBE, who was announced as the new Chancellor.

Emeli’s parents, Diane and Joel, studied together at Sunderland in the 1980s and Emeli was born in the city in 1987.

We are among the world’s best lifesavers

The University was named as one of the ‘Nation’s Lifesavers’ thanks to its high-level of paramedic training.

The Nation’s Lifesavers are the top 100 individuals or groups based in universities across the country whose work in saving lives and making a difference to health and wellbeing is proving successful.

Mark Willis, Programme Leader for Paramedic Science and Out of Hospital Care at the University of Sunderland, said: “This accolade shows the significant dedication of the staff, students and placement partners at the University in developing a highly skilled, patient-centred workforce of the future.”


Nursing nomination for keeping the North East healthy

A University of partnership is nominated for Student Nursing Times Award.

Promoting Equity in Physical Health Screening - a collaborative initiative between the University of Sunderland, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) - was nominated in the Learning Disabilities Nursing category.

We meet the country’s youngest graduates

A special graduation ceremony was held at St Mary’s Childcare Centre, the University’s on-site nursery for children as young as three, where each child wore a traditional gown and their proud parents were out in force to take pictures to remember the big day.

On hand to pass out the graduation certificates was Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor of the University, attending his first ‘mini-grad’ ceremony.


Green light for School of Medicine

Sunderland’s first School of Medicine is given the official ‘green light’ after a team from the General Medical Council reviewed the University’s preparations.

The visit from the GMC – the public body that maintains the official register of medical practitioners in the UK – came as final plans were put in place ahead of September’s official opening.

Meet the Honorary graduates for 2019

The University announced the five distinguished figures who would receive honorary awards at the summer graduations.

They are: Martin Longstaff (singer, songwriter and teacher), The Right Reverend Dr Helen-Ann Hartley (Bishop of Ripon), Darren Henley OBE (Chief Executive, Arts Council England), Mitch Mitchell MBE QVS (Major General in the British Army), Nadine Shah (singer, songwriter and campaigner).


BIG-time success for students at RTS Awards

Students picked up three national awards for outstanding film-making at a ceremony in London.

Ciaran Charles, the writer and director of the coming-of-age film Smoked Mackerel, accepted two awards for Best Postgraduate Drama and Best Writer.

Connor Langley, Michael Rowlands, Mark Hunter and Jack Jarvis scooped the prize for Postgraduate Comedy and Entertainment for their film A Very Uncommon Christmas, which features a zombie robbery.

The three awards were among 11 handed out to post-graduate film-makers as part of the prestigious Royal Television Society Student Awards.

Emeli Sande installed as Chancellor

On a special summer’s day, the singer took to the stage at the University’s Academic Award ceremonies to present her own parents with their official graduation certificate.

Dad Joel and mum Diane were unable to collect their certificates after they graduated in 1987, due to the birth of their daughter.

Emeli would go on to congratulate hundreds of graduating students as she presented them with their honours at the Stadium of Light during our annual graduations.

Nursing Milestone

After three years of dedicated training and hard work, Sunderland’s first intake of home-grown nurses graduate at the summer Academic Awards.

The 17 nurses stepped onto the stage to collect their degrees before they all started their careers in the NHS.


Father and son witness University milestones

Student teacher Neil Coram witnessed a first when he was at Sunderland in 1992 – the polytechnic changing into the city’s first University.

Fast-forward 27 years.

Neil’s son Arran was this summer preparing for his own university first – becoming one of the initial students on Sunderland’s new Physiotherapy degree.

The father and son arrived at the University as one relived halcyon days, while the other prepared for a new chapter in his life.

University research leads to plaque unveiling

A plaque commemorating Sunderland’s first woman MP, Marion Phillips, is revealed thanks to a University lecturer’s research.

Little was known about Labour Party politician Phillips, who held her seat in the city between 1929 and 1931.

Dr Sarah Hellawell, Lecturer in Modern British History, campaigned for the commemoration for Phillips which would see a Blue Heritage plaque unveiled in Sunderland city centre.

Multimillion-pound investment

This month saw the reopening of the University’s new Gateway complex at City Campus.

The multi-million pound transformation saw the ground floor redesigned with a new entrance, reception, café and one-stop Gateway shop which caters for all students’ needs.


Philanthropist’s donation is biggest ever

Helen McArdle CBE donates £2.5m to the University of Sunderland - the largest contribution ever received by the higher education institution.

It was announced that the multi-million pound partnership with the philanthropist and entrepreneur will benefit teaching and research in nursing and care.

The University’s Shackleton House building was then re-named Helen McArdle House in recognition of this extraordinary gift.

Watershed moment in history of University as medical school opens

The University welcomed its first medical students as the doors opened on its new School of Medicine.

The School saw 51 students arrive as they embarked on their journey to become a qualified doctor.

With state-of-the-art facilities already in place and dedicated partnerships with the region’s NHS trusts, the opening allows the University to offer 360° healthcare via its graduating students.

New £600,000 University Enterprise Zone announced

New Government funding announced this month will help the University stimulate growth and bring jobs to the North East.

The £600,000 will help create the first ever University Enterprise Zone in Sunderland, aiming to strengthen collaborative ties between higher education and businesses in the region.

The aim is to help small businesses and start-ups to succeed by providing access to space for them to grow, as well as specialist facilities and expertise.

University research into minimum alcohol pricing

A University expert advised that the North East should follow Scotland’s lead and introduce a minimum pricing policy on alcohol.

It came as a report published in the BMJ suggested the introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP) in Scotland appeared to have been successful in reducing the amount of alcohol purchased and consumed.

With the North East suffering similar levels of harm from alcohol, an accompanying invited editorial by John Mooney, a senior lecturer in Public Health at the University, suggested the region’s health could significantly benefit from a similar MUP implementation.


Paralympian poster-boy revealed as honorary graduate

Paralympian and North East sportsman Josef Craig will receive an honorary graduate award during winter graduations, it was annouced.

Josef also took to the opportunity to reveal how depression and anxiety had plagued his life.

Speaking out on World Mental Health Day, Josef told how he hopes his story will help others suffering in silence.

Josef became one of the region’s most celebrated athletes after his London 2012 success saw him become Team GB’s youngest 2012 gold medal winner.

University to host prestigious journalism conference

The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) announce their flagship event, the Journalism Skills Conference, will be held at Sunderland next month.

The event brings together educators and employers from across the UK to discuss the latest developments in the industry, and journalism education and training.

Happy Birthday Spark

Celebrations were in full swing to mark the 10th birthday of University student radio station, Spark.

Over the years, the station has proved the perfect training ground for some of the UK’s most successful radio presenters and producers.

From BBC Radio 1’s Jordan North to BBC Radio 2 producer Sarah Harrison, Spark has helped a catalogue of talent get a foot onto the broadcasting ladder.


One for the boys

The University marked International Men’s Day this month by quizzing a range of men from across the institution.

Among all the talk of toxic masculinity and gender stereotypes, we asked a selection of men just what being a male in 2019 really means.

Those questioned included academics, students, life coaches and chaplains.

Stadium of success

This month we celebrated out annual winter Academic Award.

Almost 2,000 students, friends and family celebrated graduation success at the Stadium of Light.

Among those who received Honorary Fellowships at this year’s Awards are the UK’s former Paralympian star Josef Craig and public health pioneer Jackie Nixon.

Conference honour

The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) Skills Conference was held at the University for this first time.

The two day event also saw the NCT Skills Conferenced Awards for Excellence take place with Sunderland’s own students taking some of the honours.

Journalism graduate Mariam Kattab won in the features category. The awards are open to students, trainees and apprentices in news, sports, top scoop, features and multimedia categories.


First ever Pro-Chancellors announcement

We were thrilled to announce that Margaret Fay, Deputy Chair of our Board of Governors and Alastair Stewart, journalist and ITN newscaster, had agreed to become the University’s first-ever Pro-Chancellors.

In their role as Pro-Chancellors, Margaret and Alastair will support the Chancellor, Emeli Sandé, by attending events and officiating at some of the University’s graduation ceremonies in Sunderland and London. 

Both great supporters of the University and our ‘life-changing’ mission, Margaret and Alastair will be installed as Pro-Chancellors in 2020.

Elite athlete eyes up World Championships

To close off the year, we celebrated the success of one of our Elite Athletes, Cameron Park.

The 22 year old Sport and Exercise Sciences student has been training in the martial art for a decade.

Now Cameron, already a member of the University’s Elite Athlete Scheme, has his sights firmly set on the World Championships in Denmark next year after picking up silver in last month’s British National Championships.

Last chance to complete the survey: deadline Friday 6 February.

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Wednesday, 22 January, 9am–4.15pm - Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s - book via Eventbrite

The keynote speaker for the University's 2019/20 Research and Innovation Conference will be Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University and Knowledge Exchange Champion for Research England.

The Conference will also include contributions from the University Executive team and research community.

Please note, no lunch will be provided on this occasion. If you have a general query, please contact:

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Draft Programme

09:00-09:30     Registration

09:30-09:45     Welcome: Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive

09:45-10:30     Keynote: Knowledge Exchange Framework: Prof Trevor McMillan, Vice-chancellor of Keele University and Chair of the KEF Steering Group

10:30-10:40     University Research Strategy: Prof Michael Young, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

10:40-10:50     University Knowledge Exchange and Enterprise: Prof Jon Timmis, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Commercial) 

10:50-11:10     Q and A session – morning speakers

11:10- 11:35     Break and networking

11:35-12:30     Supporting the Research Environment

  • Martin Finlayson, Head of University Research Office
  • John Fulton, Director of Postgraduate Research
  • Jane Peverley, Corporate Communications Manager
  • Natalie Bell, Head of Staff Development

12:30-13:45     Lunch and networking: Research student poster competition

Exhibitors – Research Professional, Research Design Service, Research Ethics System, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

13:45-13:50     Introduction to Afternoon Session: Prof Michael Young, Deputy Vice-chancellor (Academic)

13:50-14.50     Research Impact: 

  • Rachel Ramsey (University Research Office)
  • Ewan Clayton (FACI)
  • Kalliopi Dodou (FHSW)
  • Maggie Gregson (FES)

14:50-15:10     Break and networking

15.10-16:00     Supporting Interdisciplinary Research: Roundtable presentations and discussion                      

  • Angela Smith (Sunderland Gender Network)
  • Sarah Martin-Denham (Adverse Childhood Experiences Network)
  • Caroline Mitchell (Participatory Approaches to Research and Practice Network)
  • Yitka Graham (Health and Care Workforce Research Network)
  • Donna Chambers (Race, Class and Ethnicity Network)

16.00-16.15     Closing remarks and announcement of poster competition result: Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive

16:15               Conference closes