Pastures New

Well, after what seems like ages the news is now official. I’ve been appointed Head of the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex. I’ll be taking up my new job on 1st February 2013.  I was actually offered the job back in September and decided pretty quickly to accept it, but there have been quite a few things to sort out before the news could be made public. Anyway, yesterday the University of Sussex decided it was time to make a formal announcement, and there we are.

As I am quoted as saying in the press release it will definitely be a wrench to leave Cardiff. I’ve really enjoyed living and working here for the last five years or so, and will miss the staff and the students of the School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University. I’m especially grateful for the help and support I received during the difficulties I experienced this summer. However, I felt the position at Sussex represented an exciting opportunity to make a fresh start which would offer new and exciting challenges and which I couldn’t afford to turn down. It means a lot that my Cardiff colleagues – particularly the Head of School, Walter Gear – have accepted my decision in such good spirit, and are doing everything possible to smooth the transition.

As it also explains in the official news item, I’m not exactly a stranger to Sussex. I did my DPhil there (from 1985-88) and stayed on for a couple of years as a PDRA (1988-90). That was a long time ago, of course. In fact, in those days I was  a member of a School called “MAPS” (Mathematics and Physics). I’ve been back to Sussex on numerous occasions over the past twenty-odd years, usually discovering that some reorganisation had happened – Maths separated from Physics, changes of building, and so on. Now, ironically, I’ll return to a School that, on paper at any rate, looks very similar to the old MAPS and is even back in the same building! Plus ça change.

I won’t be leaving Cardiff immediately, of course. I’m still an employee of Cardiff University and will do my best to carry out my duties until the end of January. That means I’ll carry on lecturing as normal, and will be around to mark the examinations after Christmas. I also have two PhD students and three final-year projects students, and will be travelling back to Cardiff regularly to ensure they continue get as much supervision as they need even after the (formal) end of my employment here. I’ll also be continuing to collaborate with folks in Cardiff (and elsewhere) on, e.g., the Herschel ATLAS survey.

The position of Head of MPS at Sussex only became available because of the untimely death of the previous Head of School, David Axon, in April this year, so I’m fully aware that the circumstances that have given me such a wonderful opportunity have also brought much sadness to David’s colleagues and loved ones. I only hope that I can build on the many excellent things he did during his time at Sussex, and so eventually earn the respect and acceptance of the School.

Many of my colleagues at Cardiff have expressed sadness that I’ll be leaving. But just as there are exciting developments in the pipeline at Sussex, so are there different but equally exciting things in store at Cardiff. In no way will my departure have a negative impact on the School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University. Quite the contrary, in fact. There will now be a bit more headroom in the budget that I’m sure will help bring at least some of the School’s plans to fruition.

And anyway, as I said previously, I’m not going just yet. I’ll probably keep the house in Cardiff until the spring (at the earliest) so I’ll be back here regularly, especially when it’s Opera season. And having branches in both Brighton and Cardiff for a while might even give me an excuse to have two 50th birthday celebrations next year!

23 Responses to “Pastures New”

  1. Many congratulations!

    Did we overlap at QMW?

    • telescoper Says:

      I don’t know. I was in Maths, and you may have been in Physics…

      • Yes, I was in my last term of physics at QMW in 1990, before heading to Cambridge, but I was doing Bernard Carr’s GR course and so was in Maths now and again (although the lectures were held in some rather ugly demountables on rough ground where the new library is).

        I think Andy Lawrence was there about the same time.

  2. Congratulations on your new post. In a sense, I guess, you are following in the footsteps of the Famous Writer who once supervised you. See you in Cambridge next decade. 🙂

    Folks who knew Dave Axon, and perhaps some who didn’t (I once glimpsed him in the corridor at Jodrell Bank) might want to check out the long obituary in a recent issue of The Observatory.

  3. Nick Cross Says:

    Congratulations. I heard from someone at the ESO Surveys meeting that you were moving yesterday.

  4. Anton Garrett Says:


    Still a county cricket HQ ground in the town, although not a Test arena.

  5. telescoper Says:

    I should stress – because a number of people have asked me – that I have no intention whatsoever of giving up blogging because of this move!

  6. Peter,
    Congratulations! I wish you the very best in your new role.


  7. Congratulations!

  8. Bryn Jones Says:

    I’ve offered my congratulations elsewhere (but not face-to-face because it would have been too public then at a time when the news was still confidential). However, I’ll repeat my congratulations now.

    Moving from Cardiff will be a shame because it is a nice city with lots of facilities, but Brighton has always seemed a pleasant place on my few visits there.

    I hope Peter will be very happy in his new job and new home.

  9. Hi, and congratulations on your new job:)
    I came across your page while searching for Professor John Taylor RIP.

    Looks like I may be visiting again:)

  10. […] hard on the heels of Tuesday’s news, here is an announcement of three (new, permanent) jobs in Astronomy at the University of Sussex. […]

  11. Rhodri Evans Says:

    Congratulations Peter! Cardiff’s loss is Sussex’s gain.

  12. […] another thing. I’m shortly moving from Cardiff (which is a member of the Russell group) to Sussex (which isn’t).  Look at the […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: