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Who's Who at Queen Mary

Professor Colin Bailey
President and Principal

Professor Bailey began his career as an apprentice draughtsman. Over a period of five years he worked for a number of design consultants, supervising the construction of a variety of building structures, before studying for a degree and PhD at the University of Sheffield. After completing his PhD he returned to industry to work for the Steel Construction Institute and the Building Research Establishment, where his practical and research experience resulted in significant developments in structural engineering.

He joined The University of Manchester in 2002 as Professor of Structural Engineering, and became Head of the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering at Manchester in 2007. He was then appointed Vice-President of the University and Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering in 2009, before becoming Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 2014. His leadership achievements at Manchester include the launch of a number of high profile research projects, such as the BP International Centre for Advanced Materials, The National Graphene Institute (£61m) and The Sir Henry Royce Institute (£283m). He also has significant non-executive experience, sitting on the Board of a number charities and organisations.

Professor Bailey is author of more than 120 research papers and practical design guides, and has been awarded nine prizes for his research work. His main specialties are fire safety engineering of structures, membrane action, wind loading and steel-concrete composite systems. He has also been involved in the structural fire design of number of iconic buildings in London including the Shard, Heron Tower and the Leadenhall Building. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Structural Engineers and a member of the Institution of Fire Engineers. He joined Queen Mary as President and Principal in September 2017.


Professor Steve Thornton
Vice-Principal (Health)

Professor Steve Thornton is the Vice Principal (Health) – Queen Mary University of London, and is a consultant obstetrician at Barts and the London.

Steve qualified from Southampton University in 1983 and undertook his clinical training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Newcastle upon Tyne where he started research into the mechanism of human term and preterm labour. His work has particularly focussed on preventing and treating preterm labour given its major implications for the life and health of baby. He obtained membership of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists as well as his MD in Newcastle then moved to an MRC Clinical Scientist post in Cambridge. His work continued on the basic science and clinical aspects of labour. He obtained his first Professorial position at the University of Warwick in 1998 where he continued to undertake research related to preterm labour.

Steve undertook a number of additional roles during his position at Warwick, holding positions with the Strategic Health Authority and leading Research and Development for the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust. He took the role of Dean at Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry in September 2010, and became the inaugural Dean at the University of Exeter Medical School in 2012. He was appointed as Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean at the University of Exeter Medical School in 2015. He continues to undertake leading roles at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Medical Schools Council, where he has recently been elected to the Executive team.


Professor Matthew Hilton
Vice-Principal and Executive Dean (Humanities and Social Sciences)

Matthew Hilton obtained his PhD from Lancaster University in 1996. From 1997 until 2016 he worked at the University of Birmingham, becoming Professor of Social History in 2006. From 2011 he was the Director of Research for the College of Arts and Law and then the Deputy Head of College. He has been a visiting scholar at Centre for European Studies, Harvard University and in 2002 was a winner of the Phillip Leverhulme Prize. He served on the REF2014 sub-panel for History, sits on the Advisory Board of the AHRC and is an editor of Past and Present. His research has focussed on the history of consumption, social activism, non-governmental organisations, charities and humanitarianism. His most recent books include Prosperity for All: Consumer Activism in an Era of Globalisation (Cornell, 2009), with James McKay, Nicholas Crowson and Jean-François Mouhot, The Politics of Expertise: How NGOs Shaped Modern Britain (Oxford, 2013) and, with Kieran Connell, On Varna Road: The Photography of Janet Mendelsohn (Birmingham: IKON, 2016). He has co-edited several collections of essays, including The Ages of Voluntarism (OUP, 2011) and Transnationalism and Contemporary Global History (P&P/OUP, 2013). He joined Queen Mary as Vice-Principal for Humanities and Social Sciences in September 2016.


Professor Edmund Burke

Professor Edmund Burke
Vice-Principal and Executive Dean (Science and Engineering)

Professor Edmund Burke joined Queen Mary in September 2015 as Vice Principal for Science and Engineering. Prior to joining QMUL, Professor Burke was Senior Deputy Principal and Deputy Vice-chancellor at Stirling University.  His research interests lie at the interface of Operational Research and Computer Science and he is a Fellow of the Operational Research Society, the British Computer Society and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications.

Professor Burke is Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Scheduling, Area Editor (for Combinatorial Optimisation) of the Journal of Heuristics, Associate Editor of the INFORMS Journal on Computing and Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the EURO Journal on Computational Optimization and a member of the Editorial Board of Memetic Computing.  Since 1995, he has led the organisation of the international series of conferences on the Practice and Theory of Automated Timetabling (PATAT).

Professor Burke has edited/authored 14 books and published over 250 refereed papers.  He research has had a major impact upon a range of industries and sectors and he has been awarded 56 externally funded grants worth over £16M from a variety of sources, including UK and overseas research councils and industrial organisations. He has been a member of EPSRC Strategic Advisory Teams on three separate occasions and regularly sits on advisory panels for this research council.


Prof Stephanie Marshall headshot

Professor Stephanie Marshall
Interim Vice-Principal (Education)

Professor Marshall studied History at the University of York and has postgraduate qualifications in Education Studies from York and Harvard. She is an author of a number publications and articles on academic leadership, teaching excellence, and global challenges in higher education, including four editions as co-editor of A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. She is also a regular speaker at international conferences on teaching excellence and leadership in higher education, teaching and learning. 

Professor Marshall’s international reputation has led to her being recruited to serve on the German Excellenz Initiative judging panel, and most recently, to Chair the Norwegian Centres for Excellence Initiative (SFU) judging panel. This includes having an ongoing relationship with NOKUT (Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education) in terms of providing support for the SFU academic leaders. She introduced the Global Teaching Excellence Award in 2016 and continues to have academic oversight of this initiative.


Professor Bill Spence

Professor Bill Spence
Vice-Principal (Research)

Bill Spence took his degree in Theoretical Physics at the Australian National University and his PhD at King's College London in 1985. After postdoctoral posts at the University of Southampton, Queen Mary and Imperial College London, he held a Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship at the University of Melbourne and an EPSRC Advanced Fellowship at Queen Mary. He was the first Director of the Centre for Research in String Theory, which grew rapidly in size and prominence during 2003-2009. He was then Head of Physics and Astronomy during 2009-2012, overseeing a period of major expansion.

Bill's research interests are in M-theory and string theory and their applications - most recently those originally inspired by twistor string theory. This research area has unearthed powerful new approaches to quantum field theory, gravity and string theory, ranging from twistor space formulations to novel techniques for calculating scattering amplitudes relevant to the Large Hadron Collider.


Peter McOwan

Professor Peter McOwan
Vice-Principal (Public Engagement and Student Enterprise)

Peter McOwan is a Professor of Computer Science in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science at Queen Mary. He was appointed to the role of Vice Principal for Public Engagement and Student Enterprise in January 2012.

Peter holds degrees from Edinburgh, Kings College London, UCL and Aberdeen. His interdisciplinary research interests are in visual perception, cognitive science and biologically inspired hardware and software. He has authored more than 120 papers in these areas. He is also a member of the editorial board of the Journal on Multimodal User Interfaces. He was coordinator of the successful Living with Robots and Interactive Companions (LIREC) project, one of the EU’s largest robotics projects, developing long-term synthetic companions, and is currently coordinator of an EU Science in Society grant Teaching Enquiry with Mysteries Incorporated (TEMI), using magic, myths and mysteries to promote enquiry-based education in Europe. He is an investigator on the EPSRC programme grant CHI+MED exploring design to reduce human errors in medical software and an EPSRC Partnership for Public Engagement Scheme Computer Science for Fun (CS4fn), an outreach project to enthuse school children about computer science research.

He was a founder member of the Computing at Schools network, was elected a National Teaching Fellow by the Higher Education Academy in 2008 and was awarded the 2011 IET Mountbatten Medal for his work in promoting computer science to diverse audiences. He also co-created with Queen Mary Innovation (QMI) the QApps venture, which develops commercial smartphone apps from staff and student research.


Professor Colin Grant
Vice-Principal (International)

Professor Colin Grant joined Queen Mary as the Vice-Principal (International) in April 2018.

Prior to joining Queen Mary, Professor Grant was inaugural Vice President (International) at the University of Southampton, leading its International Strategy and developing its India and ASEAN sub-strategies. He was Chair of the Board of University of Southampton Malaysia Campus and Southampton Singapore Limited from 2016 until 2018. From 2008 to 2011 he was Chair of the Management Committee for the Surrey-DUFE International Institute in Dalian. He was first chair of the University Global Partnership Network (Surrey-University of São Paulo-North Carolina State University) and led the U4C partnership (Bath-Zhejiang-Stellenbosch-Campinas).

Professor Grant previously worked in a variety of international roles at other universities, as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Internationalisation) at the University of Surrey and the University of Bath respectively, leading research and policy partnerships in South Africa, Brazil, South Korea, USA, China and Jordan. Professor Grant studied applied languages, literature and European Studies at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh and took his PhD in literature as a form of political communication at the University of Bath in 1993. He is a professor of human and political communication, with a focus on communication in unstable environments. He has published nine books within his field, and has worked as an academic in the UK, Germany and Brazil.

Professor Grant is a long-standing member of the UUK International Strategic Advisory Board, British Council Education Advisory Group, and Going Global Steering Committee, and was UUK lead for Latin America from 2014 to 2017, taking several national delegations to South America. He was elected Chair of the Russell Group International Forum in 2017.


Laura Gibbs
Chief Operating Officer

Laura Gibbs joined QMUL in July 2016 as Chief Operating Officer and is a member of the QMUL Senior Executive (QMSE).  Laura was previously Registrar at SOAS with responsibility for Professional Services and prior to that Deputy Registrar at Royal Holloway where she was responsible for a wide range of services including Academic Registry, Campus Services and IT. Before joining Royal Holloway, she worked in a variety of roles at London Business School, including Head of IT and Customer Services. Laura’s early career was as a software engineer where she was involved in the development of 3D modelling applications for engineers and architects.

At QMUL Laura has overall responsibility for all Professional Services (PS), leading the annual planning and budgeting process for PS, and working to ensure central services and those based in academic departments operate together effectively and efficiently.

Laura holds a BA in Natural Sciences and Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge and an MSc in Applicable Mathematics from Cranfield Institute of Technology. Laura is a Member of the White Hill Schools Multi-Academy Trust in Chesham and sits on the Finance Board of the Royal College of Physicians.


Joanne Jones
Finance Director

Joanne Jones joined Queen Mary in 2015 as Finance Director and is a member of the QMUL Senior Executive (QMSE).

Joanne is a chartered public finance accountant and has spent most of her career in the University sector working in both research intensive and new universities. These include the universities of York, Nottingham, Oxford Brookes and Lincoln, where she worked with Siemens to open the UK’s first new school of engineering in 24 years.

She has been a Finance Director for the last 11 years, and has previously had varied roles in all areas of finance including research support, forecasting, budgeting, planning, pension funds, tax and subsidiary companies.

Joanne works closely with the Principal to maintain and strengthen the university’s financial sustainability, ensuring that Queen Mary’s financial strategy enables the university to achieve its objectives in teaching, learning, research, local and global partnerships, Estates, HR and IT strategies.

In addition to her role at Queen Mary, Joanne volunteers her specialist expertise on the UCAS finance committee and the audit committee of the East London University Schools Trust, which oversees the finances of a number of local schools.

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