The John Willis Award is made in recognition of accomplishment in research combined with a significant contribution to teaching including pastoral support for students.
In 2017 the award was presented to Dr Richard Burke in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Dr Burke was selected by the Committee for this Award for his acknowledged commitment and contributions to teaching, research and the pastoral support of his students.
Dr Burke’s research concerns understanding and modelling fuel-efficient vehicles where he has demonstrated prodigious activity and success. He is an exceptional collaborator, both inside and outside the university. He has attracted over £1M of research funding. Dr Burke is very well known and respected in the international research community. He has used three international mobility grants and initiated research networks to develop collaborative relationships at synergistic institutes across the EU, including TU Berlin, CMT Valencia, ESTACA and Ecole Centrale de Nantes. These collaborations have led to joint publications, research proposals and successful funding.
Independent funding has allowed Dr Burke to undertake cutting-edge research leading to seventeen peer reviewed journal papers and twenty-eight conference publications, most of which are international and peer reviewed. A large proportion of these publications have PhD students as the primary author and eight are co-authored with collaborators at TU Berlin, CMT Valencia, ESTACA and Ecole Centrale de Nantes. The strength of his publications has been recognised by the internal Faculty review process where the quality of his output has been ranked at a high level of quality.
Dr Burke’s pastoral care to students is especially strong. Dr Burke takes the leading role in the development of the PhD students and research-associate staff; this includes organising regular student-led seminars, research-student-exchange to European universities, preparing students for conferences, publications, vivas and drafts of doctoral theses. He has supervised twelve taught postgraduates to graduation, three of which became PhD students under his supervision. The first of his PhD students is expected to graduate this year having already published three papers. It is clear that Dr Burke has a real dedication to the academic and personal lives of his students as evidenced from the outstanding testimonials received in support of this nomination.