New Dean appointments

New Dean appointments

Dear colleagues,

Further to earlier calls inviting applications for the roles of; Dean for Impact and Engagement; Dean for People, Culture and Environment; and, Dean for Knowledge and Understanding, I am delighted to announce that, following a competitive internal recruitment process, the following appointments have been made, effective from 1 March 2024:

  • Dean for Impact and Engagement: Michelle Macleod
  • Dean for People, Culture and Environment: Ben Tatler
  • Dean for Knowledge and Understanding: Nir Oren

As Dean for Impact and Engagement, Michelle will take the key role in promoting the development of impactful research and its progression into impact case studies for submission into REF2028 and beyond. She will provide support for research-led Aberdeen 2040 commitments around stakeholder engagement and will lead on the development of both national and international academic research partnerships.

A graduate of the University of Aberdeen, Michelle was appointed to the University as a Lecturer of Celtic in 2004 (following a period at the National University of Ireland and also in the public sector); she is now Professor of Gaelic. She has held various leadership roles at the University including Director of the Confucius Institute, Interim Head of School, and School Impact Lead. Michelle is also a government appointed Member of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Chair of Theatre Gu Leòr (Scotland’s Gaelic Theatre Company) and a Member of the British Academy and University Council on Modern Languages Strategic Committee on Languages in Higher Education. She recently held an AHRC Fellowship looking at the Future of Modern Languages Research which explored how public and third sector organisations collaborate with HEIs on research; this information was used to inform UKRI funding pathways. She has collaborated on impact case studies for REF 2021 and 2014 and has delivered evidence to both Scottish and UK governments about her own research, as well with sharing research findings with community organisations.

Ben will have strategic responsibility for developing, implementing, and evaluating initiatives designed to enhance the way we support a positive research culture for all. Ben will work closely with Schools and Professional Services to identify priorities for enhancing research culture within and across the University and help to co-design and deliver initiatives that support these priorities and foster an inclusive and open environment where people are valued for the diverse ways in which they contribute to the world-leading research we produce.

Ben joined the University in 2015 and is a Professor in the School of Psychology. His research focuses on how we use vision to support our everyday behaviour. A particular emphasis within this work is the importance of studying vision in the context of natural behaviour in real environments, rather than exclusively in laboratory settings. Ben’s research has contributed to our theoretical understanding of the factors that underlie decisions about where to look in complex scenes and to our theoretical understanding of the representations that underlie natural vision.

Ben has experience of leading research strategy, supporting researcher development, engaging with external stakeholders and enhancing research culture through his roles as Director of Research for Psychology, REF2021 Lead, Impact Lead, and Chair of the Industry and Impact Group for Psychology.

Nir arrived in Aberdeen from South Africa to complete his PhD in 2003 and joined the University as a Lecturer in 2010. In 2019 he was promoted to Personal Chair in Computing Science. Nir has acted as the Academic Line Manager of Computing Science and is currently the Director of Research for the School of Natural and Computing Sciences.

Nir's research lies in the field of Artificial Intelligence, focusing on automating and explaining decision-making in complex environments. He has worked with academics across multiple disciplines, as well as industrial and non-industrial stakeholders on both fundamental and applied research projects.

Nir will be responsible for supporting the University community in maximising the quality and reach of research outputs, as well as supporting the sustainability of University research by enhancing the competitiveness of grant applications and the output element of our REF 2029 submission.

I am very much looking forward to working with Michelle, Ben, and Nir in these roles and I am sure you will join me in congratulating them on their appointments.

Best wishes,


Nick Forsyth

Vice-Principal (Research)

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