Durham University is set to lose another of its foremost scientists following a recruitment drive to attract top brains to Newcastle University.
Professor Richard Davies has been appointed as pro vice chancellor for engagement and internationalisation at Newcastle. He joins Newcastle from Durham University where he holds the position of dean of knowledge, exchange and impact.
An internationally recognised geoscientist, Prof Davies spent the first half of his career working in the oil and gas sector.
He follows fellow energy expert Phil Taylor, who along with a team of 17 academics and students, also moved from Durham to be the new lead on sustainability at Newcastle University.
At the time, Prof Taylor said the move was largely driven by the development of Newcastle’s Science Central, the city’s new landmark location for groundbreaking science.
Speaking about his new role, Prof Davies said: “Newcastle has done a fantastic job in articulating its vision of wanting to play a major role in civil society.
“I share this same philosophy and, indeed, it has defined a large part of my own career. In all my roles I have focused my efforts on engaging with stakeholders at all levels to ensure that the research I have been involved in has impact and relevance.”
Prof Davies began his academic career at Cardiff University in 2003 and joined Durham in 2006.
For the past eight years he has held a number of pan-university leadership roles including being the founder and first director of the Durham Energy Institute, establishing it as one of Durham’s most successful industry bodies.
Prof Davies has a strong track record researching the risks associated with oil and gas activities.
From 2007 to 2010 he led an international team that showed that the Lusi mud volcano in Indonesia was almost certainly triggered by conventional gas drilling activity rather than being a natural disaster. He is now working on the risks associated with fracking, leading on the Researching Fracking in Europe project which involves Bulgaria, Poland, Ukraine, Romania and the UK.
Prof Davies, who lives in Consett with his wife and two children, said: “Universities are complex places that are often trying to be all things to all people. We need to make sure we have focus and are using our fantastic staff in the most efficient way to have the most impact.”
Newcastle’s vice chancellor Professor Chris Brink said: “We are very pleased that Richard has accepted this key position here at Newcastle.
“Richard brings with him a wealth of expertise which will help us to build on our role as a national and international champion for civic engagement and to further develop our presence and profile around the world.”
Prof Davies will take up his new post on August 11.