Great Future

94.5% of our undergraduate students go on to work and/or further study within six months of graduating

(Destinations of Leavers Survey 2014/15)

West Yorkshire Archives Kirklees at Heritage Quay project

Heritage Quay

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 09:12:00 GMT

850-year-old Kirklees archives wins National Lottery support for the transfer to the University of Huddersfield’s Heritage Quay archive centre

Huddersfield Market Charter of 1672The collection includes the Huddersfield Market Charter of 1672

THE archives of Kirklees have received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the West Yorkshire Archives Kirklees at Heritage Quay project, it was announced today.  The project aims to improve access to Kirklees’ archive collections, create opportunities for volunteering, formal and informal learning and exhibitions for the first time, and to radically improve the storage and physical conditions for the collections.  This work will achieved through a partnership between Kirklees MBC, West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee and the University of Huddersfield.

WYAS Thanks to National Lottery players development funding of £80,100 has also been awarded to help the project partners progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.  If successful, the Kirklees archive collections will move to the multi-award winning facilities at Heritage Quay on the University campus in 2019.  The move of West Yorkshire Archive Service Kirklees to the University site will not impact on the provision of the local history service in Huddersfield Library and offers a great opportunity to further strengthen the relationship between the Archives Service, University of Huddersfield and Kirklees Libraries.

Graham Turner and Val Slater The unique and irreplaceable archive collections cover the whole of the current Kirklees Metropolitan District including Batley, Cleckheaton, Dewsbury, Heckmondwike, Holmfirth, Huddersfield, Liversedge, Marsden and Mirfield.  They fill more than 26,100 boxes (some 522 cubic metres) and are composed of parchment, paper, volumes, textile samples, photographic media including glass-plate negatives, transparencies and prints.  Overall the collections are important because they are unique and key sources for understanding the place and the identity of communities who have helped shape it over 850 years.  Whilst the collections cover most aspects of people’s lives there are particular strengths in textiles, canals, industry, trades’ unions, womens’ rights, culture and sport.

Cllr Graham Turner (pictured above), Cabinet Member Kirklees – Asset Strategy, Resources & Creative Kirklees (Arts) said: “This is a fantastic opportunity, to not only create a valuable resource, but to strengthen the relationship between the Archive Service, the University and Kirklees Libraries, which I believe is very important.”

Tim Thornton “At West Yorkshire Archive Service we are very proud to be home to the largest archive service outside of London, with nationally and internationally significant collections, spanning over 800 years” said Cllr Val Slater (pictured above), Chair of the Archives, Archaeology and Trading Standards Sub-committee, West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee.  “Our office at Kirklees plays an important role in preserving the unique written history of the area.  But without new storage and access facilities the long-term survival of the collections could be in jeopardy after The National Archives identified our buildings as being unfit to store our irreplaceable archives.  It’s great news that we have secured initial approval from HLF to seek funding to move to the university site, and it will represent a full house of new buildings for WYAS, and provide an unmissable opportunity for closer working with the University and much improved public access in existing, high quality facilities at Heritage Quay.”

Sue Bower Professor Tim Thornton (pictured left), Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, said: “We’re delighted to be able to develop our partnerships with Kirklees and the West Yorkshire Archive Service, building on the multi-award-winning success of Heritage Quay.  This will allow us to propose new activities with new archive materials involving even wider audiences in the remarkable heritage of the communities of the Kirklees area.”

Sue Bowers (pictured right), Deputy Director of Operations, Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “We are delighted that this project will unite these important physical archives, and keep them on one site, in Kirklees.  This support from National Lottery players will create fantastic opportunities for volunteering and allow many more people to explore the collections, and we look forward to seeing the final proposals in the near future”.

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Honorary Awards at the July 2017 Graduation Ceremonies

The University's Chancellor, HRH The Duke of York, at last year's ceremonies

The University's Chancellor, HRH The Duke of York, at last year's ceremonies

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 15:37:00 GMT

Seven recipients will receive the award of Honorary Doctorate of the University

Mace Two former students who are now peers in the House of Lords are among the distinguished people from politics, engineering, science and business who will receive honorary awards from the University of Huddersfield at an awards ceremony in July.

This year’s recipients will be (in alphabetical order)...

David Blunkett, Lord Blunkett of Brightside and Hillsborough

Professor Mario Neto Borges

Professor David Leaper

Roger Marsh

Sir John Parker

Professor Dame Carol Robinson

Susan Williams, Baroness Williams of Trafford


 The University will welcome back two alumni, now both peers, to receive honorary doctorates.  Lord Blunkett was awarded a peerage in the dissolution Honours List in 2015 and Baroness Williams became a life peer in 2013.

David Blunkett, Lord Blunkett of Brightside and Hillsborough The Rt Hon Lord David Blunkett of Brightside and Hillsborough (pictured right) was a Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough between 1987 and 2015 and a senior member of the then Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Cabinet for eight years from 1997.  David has been blind since birth and experienced hardship at the age of twelve when he lost his father in a works accident.  Educated at evening class on day release, he entered the University of Sheffield as a mature student graduating in 1972, before completing his Certificate in Education in 1973 here in Huddersfield.

Susan Williams, Baroness Williams of Trafford The Rt Hon Baroness Susan Williams of Trafford (pictured left), was appointed Minister of State at the Home Office in July 2016.  After graduating from the University of Huddersfield with a degree in Applied Nutrition in 1991, Baroness Williams began her political career as Councillor at Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council in 1998 and became the Council Leader between 2004 and 2009.  She also served as leader of the Conservative group between 2002 and 2009.  Outside of politics, Susan was Chairman of Heritage Lottery Fund North West between 2011 and 2012 and was Director of the North West Rail Campaign from 2011 until 2014.

Three distinguished professors from the fields of chemistry, engineering and the health sciences will also receive honorary doctorates in the summer.

‌‌Professor Dame Carol Robinson Professor Dame Carol Robinson (pictured right) holds the Chair of Doctor Lee’s Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford and became a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for contributions to science and industry in 2013.  She was the first female Professor in Chemistry at both Oxford and Cambridge and is renowned for pioneering the use of mass spectrometry as an analytical tool and for her groundbreaking research into the 3D structure of proteins.

Professor David Leaper Professor David Leaper (pictured left) was appointed Professor of Clinical Sciences at the University of Huddersfield in 2013.  He has published over 10 books, 50 chapters and 500 research and review papers.  David qualified from Leeds Medical School and is a past president of the Surgical Infection Society of Europe and the European Wound Management Association.

Professor Mario Neto Borges Professor Mario Neto Borges (pictured right) is the President of Brazil’s National Council of Science and Technology and a retired Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of São João Del Rei.  Mario moved to the UK with his family to complete a doctorate at the University of Huddersfield in 1990, where he developed a particular liking for Chess and took part in the Yorkshire Chess Championship, where he eliminated the Huddersfield champion of the time from the competition.

From business and industry, the University will welcome Roger Marsh and Sir John Parker.

Roger Marsh Businessman and Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Roger Marsh (pictured left) works to promote the Region’s interests on a national and international stage by helping enterprise and business to thrive and endeavours to unlock potential through partnership.  He has also managed change at the highest level of Government having worked in Cabinet Office and in 2015, he was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list for Services to Business and the Economy.

Sir John Parker Trained engineer and businessman Sir John Parker (pictured right) was born into a farming family in County Down, Northern Ireland.  He is Chairman of Anglo American plc, Chairman of the Water and Energy Recovery Group Pennon plc and Chairman of the New UK Naval Shipbuilding Strategy for Ministry of Defence.  He was also President of the Royal Academy of Engineering until 2014.  

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Crete’s Late Minoan tombs point way to early European migration

Dr Ceiridwen Edwards at the cemetary

Researcher Dr Ceiridwen Edwards

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 11:56:00 GMT

Archaeogenetic researcher Dr Ceiridwen Edwards will compare ancient DNA samples from one of Europe’s earliest civilisations with contemporary Cretans

Crete RESEARCHERS at the University of Huddersfield have visited Rethymnon in Crete, to collect samples from the late Bronze Age Necropolis of Armenoi, one of the world’s finest archaeological sites.  DNA analysis of the ancient skeletal remains could provide fresh insights into the origins of European civilisation.

Dr Ceiridwen Edwards and PhD student George Foody were permitted to take bone samples and teeth from over 110 of the more than 600 skeletons discovered in the Necropolis, a rock-hewn burial site from the Late Minoan period dating to more than 4,000 years ago.  During their two-week visit, the Huddersfield researchers – part of a team that included colleagues from Oxford University and the Hellenic Archaeological Research Foundation – also took DNA swabs from more than 100 contemporary Cretans.  They sought people whose grandmothers were from Crete in order to analyse links to the Minoan period.

When the ancient DNA samples are compared with those of modern Cretans, there is the potential to find solutions to many issues surrounding the ancient migration of people and culture to an island where the Bronze Age Minoans and their successors the Mycenaeans laid foundations for later European civilisation and culture.

“The Minoans are one of Europe’s earliest civilisations and research will affect the interpretation of a number of fields – archaeological, historical and social,” said George Foody.

Cretan bull leaping ◄ A fresco depicting the ancient Minoan sport of bull leaping which was undertaken by both men and women

For example, fresh light could be thrown on the migration of the Mycenaeans to Crete, and on the origins of the early script known as Linear B.  Also, the DNA analysis might establish family relationships between the occupants of the tombs, and it might be possible to establish the presence of a high status dynasty.

“We are trying to establish family relationships within the necropolis itself, as well as see how the site compares to other Minoan sites, and compare it to sites in mainland Greece,” added Mr Foody.

Dr Edwards on cretan television in a minoan buriel chamber ► Dr Edwards (pictured left) appearing on Cretan television in a Minoan burial chamber

His PhD supervisor, Dr Edwards, is Senior Research Fellow in Archaeogenetics at the University of Huddersfield, which is home to the University’s Archaeogenetics Research Group.  It has fully-equipped modern and ancient DNA lab facilities and studies the geographic distribution of human genetic variation, aiming to address questions from archaeology, anthropology and history.

‌The Research Group is the recipient of a £1 million award by the Leverhulme Trust, under its Doctoral Scholarships scheme, which will train 15 new evolutionary geneticists.  George Foody, from Cork in Ireland, is one of the second cohort of doctoral trainees, and his visit to Crete was part-funded by the Leverhulme Award.  His PhD thesis will focus on the results of this research.

While the Huddersfield duo and their colleagues were in Crete, there was considerable local media interest, including TV coverage (see below).

During her research career, Dr Edwards has studied DNA of archaeological samples from many species, including giant Irish deer, domestic horse, wild boar, domestic pig, brown bear, and red deer, dating from 1,000 to 40,000 years ago.  Her speciality has been the study of aurochs, the ancestors of domestic cattle, as well as ancient cattle breeds.

Under the Leverhulme doctoral programme, she is also supervising the University of Huddersfield PhD student Katherina Dulias, who is investigating the British Isles, with a focus on ancient DNA from Yorkshire, Dorset and Orkney.

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Archaeogenetic findings unlock ancestral origins of Sardinians

Sardinian woman

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 09:37:00 GMT

Huddersfield’s Sardinian researcher Dr Maria Pala investigates the origins of her homeland ancestors 8,000 years ago

Sardinia THE island of Sardinia is remarkable for the fact that an exceptionally high proportion of the population is seemingly descended from people who have occupied it since the Neolithic and Bronze Age, between 8,000 and 2,000 years ago.  For centuries after that, they had little interaction with mainland Europe.

Now, University of Huddersfield researcher Dr Maria Pala has taken part in a project that has helped to unlock the genetic secrets of her Mediterranean homeland.  One of the findings is that some modern Sardinians could have evolved from people who colonised the island at an even earlier period, the Mesolithic.

Dr Pala - whose first degree was from the University of Sassari in her native Sardinia – is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Huddersfield and a member of its Archaeogenetics Research Group. The group is led by Professor Martin Richards and includes Dr Francesca Gandini as Research Fellow.  They are all co-authors of a new article, titled Mitogenome Diversity in Sardinians: A Genetic Window onto an Island’s Past, appearing in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

It states that modern Sardinians are a “unique reservoir of distinct genetic signatures” and it describes how the research team, based at a number of UK, European and American universities and institutes, analysed 3,491 DNA samples from the present day population and compared them with 21 ancient samples taken from skeletal remains found in rock-cut tombs spanning from the Neolithic period to the Final Bronze Age.

Dr Maria Pala Dr Pala (pictured left) explained that this new study focused on the mitochondrial genome – the maternal line from mothers to daughters – because it provided an unbroken line of descent, much less complex than the whole genome.

It emerged that 78.4 per cent of the modern mitogenomes actually cluster into “Sardinian-specific haplogroups”.

“That percentage is extremely high,” said Dr Pala.  “If you look at Europeans as a whole, you cannot essentially distinguish an English person from an Italian or a French, because Europeans have mixed together for a long time.” 

Sardinian people Sardinia has always been an island, but it is believed that there was a time when a lower sea level meant it retained links with the continent, and through these links the first inhabitants reached the island from continental Europe.  Then the sea level rose but, despite this, connections with the continent remained active through the Neolithic and Bronze Age, possibly fuelled by the abundance of natural resources such as obsidian and metals present in the island.

Then, whether suddenly or gradually, these connections were severed or became sporadic so that for thousands of years Sardinians were isolated, developing their own language, culture, society and sense of identity.

To this day, Sardinians speak their own tongue and they remain genetically distinctive, as the new article co-authored by Dr Pala demonstrates.

It concludes that: Contemporary Sardinians harbour a unique genetic heritage as a result of their distinct history and relative isolation from the demographic upheavals of continental Europe.  Whilst the major signal appears to be the legacy of the first farmers on the island, our results hint at the possibility that the situation might have been much more complex, both for Sardinia but also, by implication, for Europe as a whole.  It now seems plausible that human mobility, inter-communication and gene flow around the Mediterranean from Late Glacial times onwards may well have left signatures that survive to this day.

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