Meet AHRC’s new directors

Meet the two new directors joining AHRC’s Executive Leadership team, along with five new programme directors, appointed to help deliver AHRC’s vision.

Today I am delighted to announce some very exciting new appointments who will bring in a breadth of new perspectives and expertise to help shape and deliver our future agenda.

This is a hugely exciting moment for the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as we begin to refresh our leadership team in the new year. Alongside those appointments, we welcome several new Programme Directors who will be delivering research programmes crucial to AHRC’s vision and mission.

Firstly, we have recruited two new Directors who will join AHRC’s Executive Leadership team in February 2022, building on the groundbreaking work of Professor Edward Harcourt:

  • Dr Jaideep Gupte, who will join us as Director of Strategy, Research and Innovation
  • Dr Allan Sudlow, who will come on board as our new Director of Partnerships and Engagement.

Edward will continue in post until March 2022 to ensure a strong handover.

In addition to these recruitments to our Senior Management team, we are also pleased to welcome five new Programme Directors who will oversee priority research programmes:

  • Professor Helen Chatterjee, Programme Director, Health Disparities
  • Professor Rebecca Madgin, Programme Director, Place
  • Justin McGuirk, Programme Director, Future Observatory
  • Professor Katy Shaw, Programme Director, Creative Communities
  • Professor Bambo Soyinka, Programme Director, Story

Without further ado, I’d like to offer a brief introduction each of the new Directors.

They will also be blogging for us over the course of the next year to give you a deeper dive into their new roles, so look out for these blogs in the coming months!

New directors joining the AHRC Executive Leadership team

Dr Jaideep Gupte, Director of Research, Strategy and Innovation

Starting February 2022

As Director of Research, Strategy and Innovation at AHRC Jaideep will bring intellectual leadership to the development and delivery of a coherent strategy for research and innovation at the AHRC.

He is looking forward to contributing to building an inclusive research and innovation system for the UK; one that connects discovery to prosperity and public good, particularly in the aftermath of the global pandemic. Critical to this are the relationships across disciplinary and sectoral boundaries, which are themselves woven across the UK, and internationally.

Jaideep has been Fellow of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex for over 10 years, where he has led research on urban development, aspects including:

  • cultural
  • material
  • social
  • political
  • technological.

He has delivered evidence-based policy advice to governmental and non-governmental bodies in the UK and internationally. His research and teaching at IDS seeks to foreground the everyday experiences of marginalised urban residents, recognising the significance of justice and equity issues. For the past three years, he has also held the post of Challenge Leader for Cities and Sustainable Infrastructure for the Global Challenges Research Fund at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Dr Allan Sudlow, Director of Partnerships and Engagement

Starting February 2022

Allan has been appointed as Director of Partnerships and Engagement, which encompasses AHRC-wide strategic planning and leading on strategic engagement with AHRC’s broad range of stakeholders, including:

  • research organisations
  • government
  • businesses
  • public audiences.

Allan is currently Head of Research Development at the British Library and is responsible for the library’s research strategy and activities as an independent research organisation (IRO). He leads a team that works across the library and with external research partners, funders and academics of all disciplines to:

  • support collaborative research
  • support post graduate training programmes
  • ensure the library’s research activities fulfil its core purposes for all its audiences.

Before joining the British Library, Allan gained a PhD in neurophysiology and had a postdoctoral research career at:

  • University of Manchester
  • University of Liverpool
  • Imperial College, London.

He has also spent time in the pharmaceutical industry. He then went to the Medical Research Council (MRC) where he managed the neuroscience research portfolio, later moving to oversee strategy and policy on research data.

New Research Programme Directors

Professor Helen Chatterjee, Programme Director, Health Disparities

Starting November 2021

Helen has been appointed as Programme Director, Health Disparities to lead on a national research programme coordinating a series of projects across the UK focused on mobilising cultural and natural assets to combat health inequalities. The research will explore opportunities for embedding and scaling up community-based ‘creative health’ approaches across health systems, particularly targeting integrated care systems. The programme brings together a range of national partners including:

  • NHS England’s Personalised Care Group
  • the National Academy for Social Prescribing
  • the National Centre for Creative Health.

Helen is currently Professor of Biology in UCL Biosciences and UCL Arts and Sciences. Her research includes evidencing the impact of cultural and nature-based participation on health. She:

  • co-founded the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance
  • is an advisor to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts and Health
  • chair the Royal Society for Public Health’s SIG in Arts and Health
  • is a trustee of the National Centre for Creative Health.

Her interdisciplinary research has won a range of awards including the 2018 AHRC-Wellcome Health Humanities Medal and Leadership Award. She received an MBE in 2015 for Services to Higher Education and Culture.

Professor Rebecca Madgin, Programme Director, Place

Started October 2021

Rebecca has been appointed as Programme Director for the Place-Based Research programme. She will work collaboratively to build an evidence base that demonstrates the many ways in which approaches from the arts and humanities can contribute to how we understand place and shape future places. Rebecca will be working with partners from across the UK to:

  • develop a programme around new and existing investments
  • demonstrate the effectiveness of arts and humanities research for addressing the needs of different locales
  • help to make the case for further investment.

Currently, Rebecca is Professor of Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow. She works broadly on the relationship between heritage and place-making and particularly on the emotional value of historic places and has published widely on heritage-led redevelopment initiatives in the 20th and 21st centuries. She also works extensively with the heritage and built environment sectors including advisory roles at both the national and local levels in the UK.

Justin McGuirk, Programme Director, Future Observatory

Started November 2021

Justin has been appointed as Director of Future Observatory, a new national programme of research, debate and training, based at the Design Museum in London, that demonstrates how design research can drive Britain’s future prosperity. The unique role of Future Observatory is to be a platform for bringing design research to life and building the networks and partnerships that can help it have an impact on real-world challenges, with a particular focus on net zero and associated environmental issues.

Alongside this new position, McGuirk will continue part-time in his role as Chief Curator at the Design Museum, where he leads the Curatorial as well as the Collections and Research departments. He has spent 20 years in the fields of design and architecture as a:

  • curator
  • writer
  • teacher.

In a diverse career, he has edited magazines, been a newspaper critic, founded a digital publishing house and been awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale for his curating. He was also the founding Head of the Design Curating and Writing MA at Design Academy Eindhoven. He has lectured at universities and conferences around the world, and his writing has appeared in:

  • the New Yorker
  • the Guardian
  • Domus, e-flux
  • Icon
  • numerous art and design journals.

He is the author or editor of several books, including Radical Cities (Verso, 2014).

Professor Katy Shaw, Programme Director, Creative Communities

Starting April 2022

Katy has been appointed as Programme Director for Creative Communities. Katy will lead significant outward facing research and engagement work to develop the potential for arts and humanities in building creative communities, building partly on our Boundless Creativity project with DCMS.

The Creative Communities programme will identity and profile examples of good partnership working practice from across the regions and nations. The aim is to explore:

  • how the arts and humanities can connect with the cultural sector to generate innovative research and development
  • dynamic public engagement needed to help us take on the challenges of today, and tomorrow.

Professor Katy Shaw is a:

  • public intellectual
  • presenter
  • author.

As Director of Cultural Partnerships at Northumbria University in Newcastle she connects a portfolio of galleries, museums, theatres and writing development organisations to university teaching, research and civic engagement.

She is the author of five monographs about contemporary culture and has authored several national reports on the creative industries, including the 2021 ‘case for culture: an all-party parliamentary group for northern culture inquiry’ report into post-COVID cultural recovery.

She is currently researcher in residence on the Michael Sheen, Daily Mirror, New Statesman and Joseph Rowntree project ‘A Writing Chance’, which aims to enhance routes into writing for working class authors.

Professor Bambo Soyinka, Programme Director, Story

Starting April 2022

Bambo has been appointed as Programme Director for Story. She will bring together innovative research with a vision of story as an essential skill for life, learning and work. Drawing on the report ‘storycraft: narrative in business’ and on the AHRC’s existing investments in creative technology research, Soyinka will help to shape the future of narrative-based research in the UK. She will highlight practical applications and story’s central role in helping us to innovate, make decisions and deal with a changing world.

Bambo Soyinka is the world’s first Professor of Story, based at Bath Spa University. Her expertise includes:

  • digital ethnography
  • data-driven narratives
  • adaptive storytelling.

Professor Soyinka is a board member for Arts Council England and sits on the steering committee for the National Centre for Cultural and Academic Exchange (NCACE). For over 25 years, she has created a portfolio of international and interdisciplinary programmes with artists, academics and entrepreneurs. As a Research Director, Professor Soyinka has led numerous initiatives that facilitate academic and cultural exchange with an emphasis on inclusive growth and innovation.

Top image:  Credit: Bim, Getty Images

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