Annual Report 2006
Introduction from the Head of Department
2006 has been a year of staffing change for the Department but a year that was overshadowed by the death in February of Robin Donkin, Reader in Historical Geography and Fellow of Jesus College until his retirement in 1996. Robin was a man who brought considerable distinction to the Department – he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1985 and the degree of Doctor of Letters was conferred on him in 1992. The full text of the eulogy spoken at the memorial service at Jesus College can be read on the Department’s website.
Three colleagues left the Department during 2006. In April Dr Mark Billinge, a lecturer in the Department since 1976 took early retirement to take up the post of Development Officer at Magdalene College. Mark during his period of appointment was a historical and cultural geographer who provided outstanding teaching (including many years of taking field classes to Crete), for numerous generations of Cambridge undergraduates. There are few, if any, areas of undergraduate provision within the Department or his College that did not benefit at one time or another from his enthusiasm and dedication. He was for many years Admissions Tutor and then Senior Tutor at Magdalene which brought considerable benefit to both College and University. In research he was interested in cultural geography and cultural theory in Europe. Arising from earlier research on the impact of science on social thought, especially in England, he developed broader interests in modern and post-modern cultural theory and its implications for the historical geography of Europe.
This year saw the resignations of Dr Andrew Shepherd, who took up the post of Reader in the School of Geosciences at the University of Edinburgh, and Dr Dan Low-Beer who took up a senior post in the Performance Evaluation and Policy unit of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria at the World Health Organization in Geneva. We wish them all well in their future careers.
The Department welcomed three new lecturers as replacements – Dr Emma Mawdsley and Dr David Nally who took up their appointments in September/October; and Dr Poul Christoffersen who joined the Department at the end of the year. Emma and David are both Human Geographers. Emma who joined the department from Birkbeck College has research and teaching interests in the politics of environment and development with particular research interests in India, including the study of how its growing middle class is experiencing and constructing environmental change. David is straight from his PhD at the University of British Columbia. His research is conducted in the context of colonial Irish society with particular emphasis on the historical geographies of uneven development and the Great Irish Famine. Poul joins us from the Univerity of Wales at Aberystwyth. His research and teaching interests are in researching glacier dynamics, ice-ocean interaction and ice-mass response to climate change using numerical models and data acquired by satellites and geophysical fieldwork. Poul is based in SPRI.
A number of colleagues earned distinctions during the year. Professor Bill Adams became the first Moran Professor of Conservation and Development following a gift to the University by Mr James Wilson for the promotion of research and teaching in this area. Bill’s reputation in the international community is for his work on conservation, sustainability and sustainable development and for his work on African development. Dr. Piers Vitebsky was awarded the Kiriyama Prize for his book “Reindeer People: living with animals and spirits in Siberia”. Congratulations are also due to Dr Janice Stargardt (Fellow of Sidney Sussex) on her appointment by the PACSEA Foundation of Switzerland to a Professorial Fellowship in Asian Historical Archaeology and Geography. Dr. Leigh Shaw Taylor, Senior Research Associate in HPSS, was appointed to a Lectureship in 18th and 19th Century British Economic and Social History in Cambridge’s History Faculty. Al James, a joint appointment in economic geography between the Department and Fitzwilliam College, and Simon Reid-Henry, PhD student supervised by Dr. Jim Duncan, both accepted Lectureships at Queen Mary College.
Amongst the support staff during the year, John Clark, Building Services Technician, took early retirement in April. Nadine Keating, General Office Manager, returned from maternity leave in May. The department librarian, Jane Robinsion, left the department in July to relocate and was replaced by Mr. Robert Carter who joins us from the Department of Architecture. In the Accounts office, Purchasing Clerk, Jane Beaumont left the department and was replaced by Elaine Giles. Alison Maguire, Research Administrator went on maternity leave in September and research administration cover was provided by Ravit Capauner, seconded part-time from the Academic Division. At the end of 2006, Mrs. Veronica Forbes, Undergraduate Administrator, retired after 22 years of service in the department and her long-standing contribution was warmly recognized by everyone. The department welcomed Ms. Diane Wanchoo as her replacement.
Head of Department