New Director for Research and Innovation encourages exploration

The Faculty of Science is delighted to announce that Professor Simon Foster is the new Faculty Director of Research and Innovation (FDRI).

Simon is Professor of Molecular Microbiology and he is based in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. His research focusses on the molecular physiology of Staphylococcus aureus, strains of which are well known for causing hospital infections such as MRSA.SimonFoster

He started his research career at the University of Cambridge then joined the University of Sheffield in 1990, where his current research stretches from determination of bacterial ultrastrucutre and dynamics, through examination of host-pathogen interactions to development of novel interventions such as vaccine development. He is also a lecturer, his undergraduate teaching covering various aspects of bacterial structure and pathogenesis.

In 2013 the University of Sheffield funded the ‘Futures projects’ the Florey Institute and Imagine: Imaging life, for both Simon is a coordinator. He says of such projects, “Increasingly funders are recognising that the best research often results from combining very diverse disciplines. As a result many funding streams now require active engagement of multiple groups with varying skill-sets and knowledge.

“While this could be seen as a huge challenge, in the Faculty of Science we are already several steps ahead because we are embedded in interdisciplinary research centres such as Florey and Imagine as well as the Plant Production and Protection (P3) Centre and the Bateson Centre.”

Simon’s enthusiasm for addressing global challenges by tackling them from multiple disciplinary approaches will guide his tenure as the FDRI. He says, “The mix in the faculty of all the core scientific disciplines means we have expertise that enables us to undertake the fundamental science that underpins the more translational aspects of what we do. Such research, ultimately, leads to our research having impact in our everyday lives.

“As FDRI I am keen to create new opportunities for researchers to get together, find out about each other’s research and identify areas in which they could unite to break boundaries. To facilitate this I’ll be working closely with colleagues across the University to find out about and report key opportunities and successes in grants and publications. I’d like to drive implementation of systems that ensure everyone has the same opportunities and has the support to take advantage of them.”

When asked where his inspiration comes from, Simon went straight to Sir Hans Krebs, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1953, and one of Simon’s academic predecessors at the University of Sheffield. “Sir Hans was a refugee who fled to the UK where he achieved so much. We should all aspire to pursue research of the same quality. In the Faculty of Science I believe we still have the opportunities to do so and for it to be just as groundbreaking.”

When asked what advice he would give early career scientists, Simon simply says he would encourage them to “Go for it! Seize the opportunity and explore”.

For more about Professor Simon Foster, please visit his web page or the Florey Institute and Imagine: Imaging Life websites.

For more about the Faculty of Science's Executive Board, please click here.