Inverness academics become Professors

Two UHI Inverness academics have been awarded Professorships in recognition of their work.

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Professor Melanie Smith

Melanie Smith, Vice-Principal - Academic and Research, and Vicky Johnson, Director of the Centre for Living Sustainability, received the titles from UHI earlier this year. Their achievements will be highlighted at the UHI Inverness graduation ceremony on Thursday 29 September.

Professor Smith has been delivering research and teaching in ecology and conservation for more than 20 years. Her research in the Highlands started in the early 1990s when she visited Beinn Eighe to investigate dwarf juniper. She joined UHI Inverness in 2003 and has since led curriculum and research development in forestry, science and fisheries. Her research has a focus on long-term ecology and biodiversity conservation, catchment, forests and wild fisheries management and rewilding. She has led and participated in European and Research Council projects and her work with UHI Inverness has led the development of research activity as an integral part of the tertiary education provision of UHI. This includes the creation of UHI Inverness’ research hub and genetics laboratories on Inverness campus.

As a geographer, Professor Johnson works in the interdisciplinary field of sustainability and rights. Her research focusses on supporting marginalised communities and involving children and young people in decision making. She has led research and managed programmes and partnerships in Africa, Asia and Latin America for international organisations and provided advice for a range of UN and government departments. She has also developed community research programmes with local authorities, the NHS and non-governmental organisations across the UK. Her latest book, ‘Youth and Positive Uncertainty’, was published in September with contributions from colleagues in the UK, Ethiopia and Nepal.

Speaking about her new title, Professor Smith said: “Recognition as Professor of Biodiversity Conservation and Education is really recognition of the amazing people that I have taught, worked with, and been mentored by through my career.  I continue to be inspired by the dedication of those striving to understand the complexity of biodiversity and ecology, so that we can work better together to protect and manage the natural environment.”

Professor Johnson said: “I hope that this recognition as Professor of Childhood, Youth and Sustainability can help to highlight the desperate need for governments to invest in action research that can inform policy and practice to address widening inequalities and poverty here in the Highlands and globally. We need to listen to young people in order to navigate uncertainty and find new more hopeful futures.”

Professor Neil Simco, Interim Deputy Principal (Tertiary and Research) at UHI, commented: “I am delighted that Melanie and Vicky have joined our community of professors. The title of professor is reserved for academics who have an international reputation in their field and who have made a valuable contribution to UHI. Melanie and Vicky are worthy recipients who have dedicated their careers to supporting communities and the environment.”