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Vice Chancellor's Award winners

Below is a list of previous Vice Chancellor's Awards winners by year. They received their certificate and lapel pins at our Annual Learning and Teaching conference.

If you would like to apply for a Vice Chancellor's Award, please visit the awards page.

Outstanding Professional Contributions

Dr Zareen Bharucha

For Outstanding Professional Service. Zareen's work on the ARU entries to the Times Higher Impact Awards, which measure our university impact against the Sustainable Development Goals, has had clear impact.

She has worked with colleagues across the institution to collate data and overall strategy, celebrating and seeking recognition for outstanding contributions to the SDGs.

Thanks to her passion and ambition to enter the awards, ARU was ranked first in the UK in the latest Impact Rankings for health and wellbeing, which has supported ARU to become a leading example in the field.

Emily Downing

For Outstanding Professional Service. Emily exemplifies professionalism and collegiality and is an outstanding administrator who goes the extra mile.

Her role in AHSS is people-facing, but much of the work she does happens behind the scenes and enables the smooth running of research and postgraduate activities.

Her work on a wide array of processes and events is a key reason for strong PRES results and on-time PhD completions. Her supportive approach has enabled postgraduate students to continue with their course, which has supported their achievement and experience.

Employability Service (Shine)

For Outstanding Professional Service. ARU Shine is an innovative careers and professional experience programme for students from a diverse range of ethnic minorities developed by a team of experts in the Employability Service.

The development of the programme sought expertise from industry, as well as inside the ARU team responsible for diversity and cultural change. Together they provided personal mentorship from external professionals.

The confidence of the 44 students taking part in the initial programme has been dramatically boosted and plans are underway to roll out an ARU Shine community across the institution.

FBL Student Engagement Team - ARUCPD Team

For Outstanding Professional Service. ARUCPD has evolved into more than a collection of co-curricular modules. It is now a community of learning and networking, with students from Levels 3-7 working together in a large, collegial space.

The team has done an outstanding job bringing together staff and students with the shared aim of improving highly-skilled employability, student engagement and inclusivity, through its flexible delivery.

ARUCPD is now available to students from other Faculties, using a unique credit accreditation scheme, widening participation and development opportunities.

Live Brief Implementation Team

For Outstanding Professional Service. The Live Briefs team enable students to develop the ability to gain, sustain and progress in graduate employment, empowering them through challenges which engage them to meet their full potential.

Students devise fresh and creative ideas or solutions to a real-world task set by an external organisation, aligned to the Live Briefs modules’ learning outcomes.

The collaborative nature of the team is exemplary and this, combined with their work with external partners and further collaboration with colleagues across ARU, has been intrinsic to the success of this project.

My ARU launch

For Outstanding Professional Service. The successful launch of the new student intranet My ARU means that our students can easily reach core online apps. My ARU is increasingly providing a route for personalised communication, based on characteristics such as faculty and campus.

The team focused on the technical development of the new SharePoint site to host My ARU undertook extensive requirement-gathering work from academic and professional services colleagues.

The project team is an outstanding example of collaborative working across professional services, using agile methodology to deliver a project on schedule, despite short project timescales.

Schools and Colleges Engagement Team and Student Services

For Outstanding Professional Service. This project from the Schools and Colleges Engagement Team and Student Services combined objectives around widening access for disabled people and working closely with schools and colleges to inspire progression to HE and raise attainment.

The project took the opportunity to address concerns raised by disabled students through an innovative and collaborative approach using the ARU student voice.

A set of vital resources for disabled students to help them succeed and thrive were created: useful for both new and current students, as well as perspective students looking to study at the university.

It has provided employment opportunities for several of our students and allowed them to collaborate with staff and has also bought together staff internally from across services.

Staff Inclusivity Network Leads

For Outstanding Professional Service. Staff Inclusivity Networks help inform policy development and organise events such as the annual inclusivity conference and Pride Events in Cambridge and Essex.

Our Network Leads organise their respective networks and provide valuable support, advice and guidance to all our staff.

The contribution of our Networks and Network Leads plays an essential role in welcoming people to ARU from all backgrounds, cultures, race, abilities, gender and sexual identities, fostering a sense of inclusion, belonging and community.

Excellent Education

Dr Jaki Lilly

For Sustained Excellence in Education. Over a 19-year period, Jaki has made significant and sustained contributions, which have had a powerful impact on teaching and learning at ARU.

Through leading and supporting numerous projects, with foci spanning across research, academic development, professional recognition, and education strategy, Jaki’s ongoing substantial contributions, dedication and expertise have stood out as being exceptional.

Jaki’s sustained excellence will leave behind an important legacy, including work on the Anglia Professional Recognition Scheme, Teaching Review Scheme and the Academic Career Framework. These projects, and others, have had enormous scope, influence, and contributed to enhanced quality of teaching at the university and the reputation of ARU.

ARU Active Learning Network

For Excellent Collaborative Activities. The ARU Active Learning Network (ALN) has grown as a community of enhancement since 2019, and responded to the increased demand for support, networking, and CPD around active learning.

As a collaborative network, the ARU ALN has created opportunities to explore active learning pedagogies together, share innovative practice and ideas, and created opportunities for working together. This includes hosting conferences and events, monthly CPD opportunities, publications, including the 100 Ideas for Active Learning book, and launching the ARU Active Learning Toolkit.

The ALN has supported and empowered colleagues to transform their teaching, and, through collaboration and connecting with other institutions on a wider scale, has supported ARU to become a leading example of active learning.

Dr Kay Aaronricks

For Outstanding Leadership in Education. Through a prolonged period across a number of roles, most recently as the Head of the School of Education and Social Care, Kay has played an integral role in enhancing student experience and opportunities, and inspiring and leading teams to provide educational excellence.

Kay’s leadership, passion, dedication, and accomplishments have spread across the school, faculty, university and the wider community, demonstrating excellent practice, and raising the profile of education and social work at the University, within the region, and nationally.

Kay’s sustained and instrumental impact through working with her team earned outstanding NSS results and a significant increase in the Guardian League Tables.

Kay’s exceptional leadership approach ensures individual and team efforts are championed and recognised, whilst fostering a dynamic, engaged, and supportive team culture.

Outstanding Research

Dr Jane Aspell

Outstanding Doctoral Supervision. Jane is a forthcoming and supportive supervisor who provides excellent quality supervision to her students. She provides expert advice into the students’ subject, as well more widely in terms of the process of conducting and completing a PhD.

Her guidance has enabled her students to understand and realise the benefits of peer review. Jane leads the Body and Self Research group, part of the ARU Centre for Mind and Behaviour. She secured external funding to support a postdoctoral research fellow to support postgraduate students and is currently supervising five PhDs.

Dr Nektarios Tzempelikos

Outstanding Doctoral Supervision. Nektarios has demonstrated his commitment to the whole student journey with an impressive on-time completion rate, which is testament to his nurturing approach. He has supervised 14 students since 2015 and is currently supervising seven PhD/DBA students.

He strives to be pioneering, by encouraging students to gain exposure to challenging managerial issues, whilst undertaking their research. This means that their projects offer a direct pathway to either a career in marketing at a senior management level, or career academic research.

Professor Shahina Pardhan

Outstanding Established Researcher. Shahina leads the Vision and Eye Research Institute (VERI) at ARU. Her outstanding research leadership was evidenced by VERI being recognised as world-leading in the REF 2014 and REF 2021 exercises.

In November 2022, Shahina received the ‘Arthur Bennett Prize for outstanding research undertaken anywhere in the world’ from the College of Optometry. The award was in recognition of her outstanding research into the global impact of diabetic retinopathy.

Dr Jennifer Todd

Outstanding Early Career Researcher. Jenny has established herself as a leading researcher in the fields of pain management, interoception and body image. She holds a prolific publication record, with 32 publications in the first four years of her research career.

Her Patient Reported Outcome measure of pain for pelvic mesh patients has the potential for national and international implementation, and the scalable nature of her VR work on fibromyalgia has the potential to be widely adopted as a health tool.

Her track record and ambition suggest that her contribution to health research will continue to be ground-breaking.

Dr Jeannette Baxter

Outstanding Research Impact. Jeannette has a collaborative approach to research, impact and engagement in refugee migration and building welcoming communities. She works alongside a wide range of cultural, civic and charity organisations.

Her projects have resulted in research activity and outputs with a rich range of benefits for participants locally, regionally and nationally, and is an outstanding example of ARU’s values around ambition, community and integrity in practice.

Professor Mohammad Najlah

Outstanding Research Impact. Mohammed has established, led, and grown the Pharmaceutical Research Group, which conducts pioneering research in nanotechnologies.

Mohammed has published more than 30 high-quality peer review publications and reports, as well as conference proceedings. He has also conducted Knowledge Exchange in his field of repurposing safe drugs and natural compounds for anticancer therapy.

Mohammed is working directly with industry partners to develop new products and has filed a UK-patent bases on his discovery of novel safe anticancer compounds.

Dr Javaid Butt

Outstanding Knowledge Exchange Collaboration. Javaid’s Knowledge Exchange project with Transporter Engineering has resulted in a significant economic impact to the company, and clear benefits for the environment and the climate.

Working collaboratively, he has identified solutions which will create cost savings in the transportation of new electric vehicles. Transporter have already signalled their intention to keep working with Javaid and ARU through a new Knowledge Transfer Partnership project.

Hans Petch

Outstanding Knowledge Exchange Collaboration. Hans has established a working template to produce new films with a series of partners following his successful work with students in AHSS and Shakespeare’s Globe.

He has demonstrated excellence in knowledge exchange by facilitating engagement and developing strong partner relationships, which have created opportunities for students to highlight their talent through these exceptional films. His approach to working in partnership has led to plans to pilot more student projects with partners in the future.

Outstanding Professional Contributions

Suzanna Forwood 

 For Outstanding Professional Service. Suzanna gained consensus to drive the work towards an Academic Workload Balancing Model built collaboratively on principles of consistency, fairness, transparency, and efficiency. She demonstrated skill in leading and facilitating a range of stakeholders with diverse priorities.

The system effectively addressed a range of issues in staff workload and manager awareness of workloads and introduced improvements to staff and managers’ experiences across the University. 

Kirsteen Williams

For Outstanding Professional Service. Kirsteen’s creativity, planning and implementation of complex timetabling models at each stage of the pandemic has been critical to students and staff.

Her work in modelling and developing different timetables to deliver our blend of block teaching and online activities for various social distancing needs has enabled the University to move through and out of the pandemic and deliver the best campus experience possible for all our students.

Covid-19 Agile Action Group 

For Outstanding Professional Service. The Covid-19 Agile Action Group has worked tirelessly to deliver on the many complex and diverse issues that the University has had to consider, decide on, and implement during the past year.

Their commitment, energy, focus and determination has been a fine example of ARU’s values and the strength the University has in its workforce.

Covid-19 Asymptomatic Testing Implementation and Delivery Team

For Outstanding Professional Service. From a standing start and a lead in time of 19 days the team implemented and delivered two campus-specific asymptomatic testing facilities. The standard of the facilities was excellent, as endorsed by our clinical staff and public health colleagues.

The speed and efficiency of delivery was also exceptional. This was a critical component in our safe operation and contributed to the confidence public health officials had in us to return to face-to-face teaching.

REF Central 

For Outstanding Professional Service. The submission to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) was the culmination of several years of work by Tim Brooks and Jill Smit. Tim and Jill worked in full support of significant mock assessment exercises and UoA convenors, their teams and the ARU REF Strategy Group.

The impact of Covid on the REF activities could have caused significant disruption to ARU’s preparations but Tim and Jill’s perseverance, positivity, outstanding professional knowledge in all things research assessment and sheer hard work culminated in the highly complex submission being ready before the deadline.

Schools and Colleges Engagement Team and Student Experience Team

For Outstanding Professional Service. This project team developed and delivered a bespoke intern programme to support care leavers and care experienced students.

Care leavers are a group which the Access and Participation Plan (APP) focusses on, by attempting to level up the playing field and providing the inclusive educational experience that ARU is committed to. The team leading this work have contributed hugely to our APP commitments and to the lives of those they have worked with in this project.

Student and Library Services Coaching Network 

For Outstanding Professional Service. The Coaching Network saw staff volunteering to be both coaches and coachees, undertaking meetings online. This cross-campus pilot relates to several strategic objectives around improving wellbeing and helping career progression.

This successful first cross-Directorate initiative will shape the future of staff development across ARU, with opportunities to extend the offer to other professional services.

Student Information and Advice Team

For Outstanding Professional Service. Staff and students equally rely on the work of the team, whether it is the iCentre staff, Money Advice or Student Advice, and they have been outstanding in their support of students through the pandemic.

They go above and beyond the call of duty and are a cohesive team that provide pragmatic advice with a kind ear and have the best interests of the students at heart.

Student Recruitment Team

For Outstanding Professional Service. The university-wide student recruitment team has again increased the numbers of students recruited to ARU, at a time when many similar organisations are seeing declines in recruitment levels.

The successful recruitment activity has positively contributed to sustaining our widening participation work, and to the financial wellbeing of the University. The team has worked remotely in a positive manner, ready to innovate and address challenges, so modelling the best values of our University.

Excellent Education

Elaine Brown

For Individual Outstanding Leadership. Elaine designed and led the implementation of two institution-wide strategic projects: Personal Development Tutoring (PDT) and Ruskin Modules. An innovative community approach was used by Elaine alongside an enabling leadership methodology, which saw colleagues mutually supporting each other.

Elaine took ownership of the design, development and implementation of Ruskin Modules and PDT with great passion and enthusiasm, bringing her subject expertise in User Experience Design to bear with great success. Both projects are sector-leading and transformative for ARU.

Jennifer Martay

For Early Career Excellence. Jennifer created a series of interactive online tools for ARU Medical Engineering students to replace hands-on practical lab sessions during lockdown, which was published and rolled out internationally.

Her free BodyWorks resources can be used anywhere and allow users to interactively position a figure into different positions and loop them to create animation. The tools help users to understand the stages of motion, useful in sports science, biomechanics, motor control and physiology. They are an impressive  solution to challenges posed by Covid-19.

Sports and Exercise Science

For Excellent Collaborative Activities. The continued excellence in student satisfaction and graduate outcomes, evidenced by exceptional metrics, shows that the success of the team’s delivery stems from strategic course design.

The team prioritises practical, innovative, and active learning and deeply embeds employability within the curriculum. The unwavering commitment of the entire SES staff team in delivering an excellent experience for our students has had a great impact.

Outstanding Research

John Gardner

Doctoral Supervision. John has an impressive track record of PhD recruitment, retention, progression and completion. In the latest REF period, he has supervised 10 students to on-time completion as First Supervisor and three as Second, with 12 completions since 2016 and four this year.

He strives for excellence from his students, and this creates confidence and ambition in them. All candidates were passed with minor or no corrections by eminent examiners.

As well as successfully steering his students, who come from a wide range of backgrounds, through the PhD journey, John supports them to think about future career and employment opportunities, readying them for life post-PhD.

William Tullett

Outstanding Early Career Researcher. Will is an exceptional, talented and original researcher. He is highly motivated and energetic, with new and exciting original ideas, alongside scholarship and attention to detail in his research work.

His recent success as part of the multi-Euro Horizon 2020 research award indicates the wider recognition and esteem for his work beyond the UK, and the media attention this attracted shows it is work with popular appeal and real-world impact beyond academia.

He has contributed to the overall strategic direction of AHSS, leading on digital skills acquisition initiatives, steering policy on research ethics, and offering new perspectives on the Humanities.

Jane Aspell

Outstanding Established Researcher. Jane is an outstanding researcher within the School of PSS, and was recently promoted to Associate Professor on the basis of her research and research leadership work.

She has produced a cohesive body of work on the self over the past decade, where she uses neuroscientific techniques to address questions about the self and body in neuro-typical and clinical populations.

Her contribution to this field is widely acknowledged; she is considered a subject expert, as evidenced by a feature piece in New Scientist, by her selection as Chair for the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness annual conference, and her invitations to speak across national and international media platforms.

Javaid Butt

Outstanding Established Researcher. Both the research projects and the outputs Javaid has delivered as a relatively newly established researcher in the broad discipline of manufacturing technology and design simulations are impressive.

He has attracted and co-authored a number of grants and successfully delivered these projects to industry. He is involved in number of PhD supervisions and demonstrating mentoring and leadership quality as an academic.

Veterans and Families Institute

Outstanding Research Impact. The teamwork from the Veterans and Families Institute (VFI) is exemplary and manifested by the involvement of talented and dedicated members in producing high quality outputs and far-reaching impact.

There is a paucity of research in the areas undertaken by the VFI team on underrepresented cohorts linked to military communities because it is not easy or well supported. The impact from the projects – including employment of spouses of military personnel, a support model for those who are living with limb loss, and support for those leaving military service early – have breadth and depth in both reach and significance.

Outstanding Professional Contributions

Sharon Waller – Anglia Learning and Teaching

In recognition of many years of sustained leadership within ARU which has made a highly significant contribution to the development of learning and teaching.

James Trueman – Anglia Learning and Teaching

In acknowledgement of the exceptional support to faculties at the start of lockdown to rapidly change the system of assessment submissions, especially in the Cambridge School of Art where making a change from physical to online submissions was particularly challenging.

Alan Turner – HEMS

In recognition of his active leadership to help tackle food poverty for staff and students. The impact on the positive wellbeing of our staff and students has been huge and has been commended by external stakeholders.

Rachel Wright – Student Services

For outstanding leadership in the development and use of TopDesk which, early in lockdown, enabled ARU to launch a targeted and personalised support offer to students in a short space of time.

Estates and Facilities Team – Estates

In the face of Covid-19, with great professionalism, Estates and Facilities implemented the successful and safe closure of our campuses within a week of lockdown, later prepared the campuses for safe re-opening, and also played a critical role in support students remaining in our accommodation during the early period of the pandemic, through the delivery of food parcels.

IT Services Team – IT

In recognition of the swift response to the Covid-19 crisis enabling many of our services to rapidly move online and enabling us to offer an enhanced educational experience to our students, supporting staff to work from home and our emerging agile ways of professional working.

Law Clinic Team – FBL

In recognition of its service to the Cambridge community since its inception, by providing local members of the public the opportunity to receive sound and free legal advice from our supervised students, and ensuring that our less privileged members of society have access to justice.

OfS Audit Team – Strategic Planning

In acknowledgement of the role that this team has had in the transformation our ability to use robust data to inform strategic action and to make satisfactory mandatory returns.

Student Experience Team – Student Services

In recognition of the work with key stakeholders to develop a Welcome Buddy scheme to support new undergraduate students’ transition into student life and which has benefitted both Buddies and new students.

Excellent Education

Early Career: Marta Estopa Vianya – FSE

In recognition of her systematic approach to innovation in her discipline of Optometry and Ophthalmic Dispensing, and the inspiration that she has provided to colleagues.

Leadership: Peter Crabtree – SMG

For leadership of the demanding programme of work, engaging with many ARU colleagues and external stakeholders and which has culminated in ARU being chosen as the academic partner for the university development in Peterborough.

Collaborative: Anglia Learning and Teaching

For the planning and delivery of the Course Design Intensives, in a very tight timescale, and which has transformed our culture and education offer, supporting course teams to implement the Active Curriculum.

Collaborative: LDS/Faculties

For the outstanding and transformational work at scale in challenging circumstances that involved the management of, and collaboration with, both external and internal participants to deliver the Policing Degree Apprenticeship contracts. This work has raised our national profile for our leading innovation partnership with the public services.

Collaborative: FBL

The panel considered that the work of the Charity and Social Enterprise Team represents everything that ARU is about, demonstrating agility, an inclusive, engaging approach and bringing great benefits to clients and stakeholder.

Outstanding Research

Doctoral Supervision: Peter Allen – FSE

Outstanding and sustained doctoral supervision, securing impressive positive outcomes for his graduates.

Established Researcher: Rupert Bourne – HEMS

For sustained world leading research and impact in vision and eye health.

Established Researcher: Lee Smith – FSE

For sustained internationally excellent research and impact in public health.

Outstanding Research Impact: Lucy Bland – AHSS

Significant impact arising from research and the difference it has made to the community involved, the war babies of Black GIs and British women.

Outstanding Research Impact: Catherine Lee – HEMS

Significant impact on individual leaders in schools and the DfE through the Courageous Leaders project.

Outstanding Research Impact: VERI Team

For the significant impact made as a result of their research in reducing the risk of blindness due to sight-threatening retinopathy in several international countries.

Outstanding Research Impact: GSI Team

In recognition of their research which has had a direct influence on policy makers, including the EU, through the incorporation of social sciences and humanities perspectives.


Outstanding Professional Contributions

International Office

A commendation for the multi-team collaboration which increased number of enrolments and reduced visa refusal rates, resulting in ARU’s high position in the International Student Barometer ranking.

Nursing Recruitment Team

This commendation rewards the team’s work to transform the application process, maximise applications and reverse a three-year decline in Nursing applications.

Security Team – Chelmsford

This commendation recognises the team’s flexibility and accommodating approach towards Faculties and Services where business needs required attendance on campus during lockdown.

Virtual Open Days

This commendation is for the long hours put in during lockdown to identify a new way of reaching potential applicants normally engaged with on campus to ensure that as many offer holders as possible took up their offers this year.

Excellent Education

Educational Leadership: Maria Vogiatzaki

This commendation celebrates Maria’s creation and implementation of a new vision for the School of Architecture curriculum, which provides students with real-world professional experience and a network to support their employability.

Collaborative Activities: MACBI

The project is commended for having developed new ways of integrating non-native English speaker students with native English speaker students, thus developing cultural understanding, improving the learning experience and creating an inclusive community.

Outstanding Research

Outstanding Early Career Researcher: Anna Dadswell

This commendation recognises the quality of Anna’s work and her contributions to the wider university through membership of groups such as the Researcher Development Working Group.

Business Collaboration: David Arkell

This commendation acknowledges David’s part in the success of several projects which have generated a breadth of activity, allowing ARU to form and strengthen networks and links necessary for business development.