Staff Spotlight on...Prof. Jeremy Bradshaw

What are you looking forward to about working at Bath?

I’m looking forward to both the opportunities and challenges, many of which will be the same. I’ve loved working at Edinburgh University but it has more than 14,000 staff and 40,000 students in 500 buildings across the city, with over 15 miles between the furthest. I’m looking forward to spending less time travelling between meetings, and to getting things done in a much closer knit university community.

What will your role involve?

I’ve grown to appreciate that universities the size of Bath have so much to offer in terms of consistency and student experience. All universities have to pick and choose their partnerships and projects; none can afford to spread themselves too thinly. So it will be important for Bath to be selective.

I know Bath has done well in REF and that is an indication that it has identified its research strengths and invested in them. That’s exactly what I need to do with International and Doctoral. I want to find out what we’re really good at, identify excellence, and build on it.

1. What would you most like to achieve while at the University?

I’m coming to carry out two roles and I’m treating them as two separate jobs with significant overlap. I’d like to achieve something in both. I’d like to increase number of PhD students without impacting quality, and to raise the profile of a really excellent university. The UK knows how good Bath is, however that understanding is patchier when you leave these islands, as with many universities. I want to help a global audience see what a great place and great university Bath is.

2. What piece of advice would you like to give to a student?

This is more for a prospective sciences PhD student, but consider whether you want to go to a big lab with Nobel prize-winning head or to a smaller lab where you’ll get much better supervision and care. I think Bath is closer to the optimum than many other universities.

3. Who was your most influential teacher or educator?

I know colleagues who have photos on their desk of people who have been a key influence on them and I often think who would I have? I’d struggle to choose someone or even a handful; people have been hugely influential but I’ve learned a lot of little things from a lot of people rather than something life-changing from a single person.

4. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An astronaut or the Prime Minister, and I’m delighted I haven’t achieved either!

5. What was your first job?

Well there are two in particular. For a few months before university I worked as a porter at Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield. It’s a cancer hospital and my role was taking patients from the ward down to their radiotherapy and I met some fantastic people. One of the guys used to fly Sopwith Camels in the First World War. I was fresh from school and it was a real eye opener for me. One of the first things I learned was to check patients were alive when I got to the ward. There were times I got there and the bed was empty.

When finished my undergraduate degree I worked for Biffa, who were a tiny company then. They’d just won the contract for domestic refuse collection for North Norfolk Council and they’d never done domestic refuse collection. My first task was to find out where the houses were to plan out the collection routes, and then I went out on the trucks to refine the routes. I had a fantastic time and it taught me a lot about how organisations work.

6. What’s your favourite book or album?

My favourite book is probably An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears. It is the same story told by four different people. Each of the four perspectives bring a completely different understanding to the same sequence of events.

If I had to choose a single desert island book, it would need to be a complicated one, like Umberto Eco’s, so Foucault's Pendulum for example. What I like about his books is that you can read them over and get something new each time, they are so complex with so many diversions.

7. When are you happiest?

I love being with people, but I‘m probably at my absolute happiest when I’m driving. My favourite drive, and one I will miss, is the wide open country roads between Moffat and Edinburgh. On drier days I drive to work in a Caterham racing car which I even used to drive between meetings at Edinburgh. The other is a Subaru BRZ which is very rare; I have yet to see another one of on the roads.

8. What’s the one thing you know now that you wish you’d known when you were younger?

How important communication is. It’s no good just getting on with projects, however good they may seem to you. You have to consult widely, tell people what you’re going to do, tell them when you’ve done it, and keep updating them on progress throughout the project.

9. If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and why?

One of the historical characters I most admire is Shackleton who, when his ship and its crew were trapped in the Antarctic ice, sailed 800 miles in a small boat, then trekked across the island of South Georgia, in order to summon a rescue team for his crew. What I admire most about Shackleton is his sheer determination, a property that can be very valuable in higher education.

10. Tell us your favourite joke

I love jokes so choosing just one is tough, but there’s one that springs to mind after chatting about Iceland yesterday. You need to know Iceland has very few trees.

What do you do if you’re lost in an Icelandic forest?

Stand up.

If you know of a colleague who’d like to raise the profile of their work or has an unexpected hobby, email with the subject ‘Staff Spotlight recommendation’.

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