Researcher Academy

Researcher Academy Faculty Leads (RAFLs) are senior academics who act as a key interface with postgraduates and early career researchers as well as other stakeholders.

Chris Bennett (Faculty of Engineering)

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering and am a member of the Gas Turbines and Transmission Systems Research Group, I am also Director of the Rolls-Royce UTC in Gas Turbine Transmission Systems where my research is focussed on the mechanical behaviour of aeroengine transmission components and associated structures, this is achieved through both experimental investigations and numerical modelling.  Improvement in the design and understanding of these components are key to achieving the improvements in engine efficiencies and to enable new approaches for propulsion that are required to meet the goals of Net Zero aviation in the future.

As RAFL for the Faculty of Engineering I get to interact with and support PGRs across our diverse range of research groups, making sure that they get the most of their time with us and have access to the support, facilities, environment and training to help them achieve their full potential.


Ifty Ahmed (Faculty of Engineering)

I am an Associate Professor within the Faculty of Engineering’s, Advanced Materials Research group. My research interests span Biomaterials, Bioglasses, Biocomposites and my research group mainly work on Phosphate-Based Glasses. These materials have been investigated for biomedical applications where the temporary presence of an implant is required, consequently negating the need for implant removal. More recently, I have developed a unique processing method for manufacturing dense and highly porous microspheres from a range of inorganic materials.  

In my role as Researcher Academy Faculty Lead (RAFL) for Engineering, I work with an excellent group of research fellows from varying research groups, as well as with staff in the Researcher Academy and Engineering Research Office to support the training and development of the Faculty’s researcher community. 



Alexander Tarr (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences)

I am an Assistant Professor in Molecular Virology in the School of Life Sciences. My research investigates mechanisms of virus entry and immune responses to chronic and acute viral infections. I am particularly interested in hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus and, more recently, SARS-CoV-2. This research contributes to development of novel antiviral therapies and informs vaccine design.

I previously represented research staff within the University as the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences representative on the Research Staff Group. I have also represented the University at the UK Research Staff Association. In my role as Deputy Researcher Academy Faculty Lead for Medicine and Health Sciences I am representing the interests of all research staff in the Faculty, working with the Researcher Academy and individual schools to support research staff in their career development.


Anna Grabowska (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences)

I am Professor in Cancer Microenvironment and the Researcher Academy Faculty Lead (RAFL) for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS). My research interests are in developing more clinically-relevant models of cancer which enable us to identify better drug targets and thus, more effective therapeutic interventions for patients.  

As RAFL for FMHS, I meet regularly with RAFLs for other Faculties in the University and staff in the Researcher Academy, and within the Faculty, with the School’s Directors of Studies for postgraduate researchers.  We share good practice and aim to ensure that researchers within the Faculty have all the support needed to engage effectively with their studies and achieve their research ambitions.  Recently, I have been joined in this role by Dr Alex Tarr and, working together, we will be able to expand our support to research staff as well as PhD students



Richard Graham (Faculty of Science)

I am a Professor in the School of Mathematical Sciences. My research centres around modelling the motion of atoms and molecules to predict physical properties such as fluid flow, phase transitions and solid-state properties. To model this I use molecular simulation, multiscale modelling and machine learning.

In my Researcher Academy role, I work closely with staff in the Researcher Academy and in academic departments to support development and training of researchers. This involves collaborating with each School in the Faculty to help researchers unlock their full potential. 



Simon Langley-Evans (Faculty of Science)

I am Professor of Human Nutrition in the School of Biosciences and have been working at Nottingham for more than 20 years. I have expertise in nutrition during pregnancy and infancy and my particular interest is in the relationship between maternal diet in pregnancy and the programming of future risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease in the developing fetus. This work has major implications for future public health, particularly given the rising prevalence of obesity in pregnancy. 

As the deputy RAFL for the Faculty of Science I will work with our exciting and diverse community of researchers, to promote a research environment that is inclusive, supportive and inspiring. I will be taking a lead on the work to implement the Concordat to support the career development of researchers.  



Alison Pilnick (Faculty of Social Sciences)

I am Professor of Language, Medicine and Society in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham. My research interests lie primarily in the field of the sociology of health and illness, with a particular interest in interactions between health and social care professionals and their patients or clients. With funding from bodies including ESRC, NIHR, the British Academy and the Big Lottery Fund, I have worked with a wide range of health professionals in a wide range of care settings both in the UK and overseas, using audio and video recordings to examine interactions and to inform and develop communication skills training. This is linked to a broader interest in the use of qualitative methods in sociological research.

I am a past editor of the journal Sociology of Health and Illness, a current Advisory Editor for the journal Social Science and Medicine, and have served on British Sociological Association and American Sociological Association committees. In 2015 I was elected a Fellow of the UK Academy of Social Sciences in recognition of my research in healthcare, and in 2021 was appointed to the ESRC Strategic Advisory Network, the body that advises ESRC on strategies, schemes, investments and interventions.

I have extensive experience of PGR supervision and ECR mentoring, supported by a wide range of funding bodies. As RAFL I work closely with researchers in my Faculty, School Directors of PGR, and other RAFLs across the University, to support the training and Development of the Social Science researcher community.



Researcher Academy

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