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Van Mildert College

Staff and SCR Research Profiles

Current research being undertaken by Van Mildert College staff and Senior Common Room members are featured below.


Dr. Howard Armstrong

I am a member of the Palaeoecosystems Group in Earth Sciences. Following my PhD on the micropalaeontology of the North Greenland carbonate platform I worked on a variety of Early Palaeozoic projects for the oil industry. My research falls under the broad heading of earth systems science and currently has three strands: 1) Deep time climate change, particularly mapping climate belt shifts during extreme climate change; 2) Understanding the controls on sea level change and 3) Studies of monsoon dynamics during the Neogene linked to Himalayan and Andean exhumation. With funding from a variety of oil companies I am currently working with students on the climate controls on mudstone deposition. These are the major source rocks for oil and increasingly are being explored as source and reservoirs for shale gas. I am also collaborating with Dave Harper and Paul Smith (Oxford) on the depositional environment, diagenesis and taphonomy of fossils in the Cambrian Sirius Passet fossil lägerstette; back working in North Greenland. I am the joint author of a market leading textbook on microfossils.

Contact Dr. Howard Armstrong


Prof. W.J. Feast FRS

Emeritus Professor in the Department of Chemistry

Professor Feast reached formal retirement age in 2003 and now works chiefly from home as an Emeritus Professor. He no longer runs a group and he does not recruit graduate students or post doctoral co-workers.

Further information on his research can be found here.


Dr. Mohammad Mohiul Hoque

I am delighted to be a member of the Senior Common Room, Van Mildert College, Durham University. In 2012, I was resident in Van Mildert College, pursuing my research topic Developing International Partnerships in Education, the relationship between School partnerships and global citizenship’. Van Mildert was the ideal place to research and study. The Van Mildert community supports a multidisciplinary approach to education and research, seminars, debates, cultural functions, and sports together with leadership skills. Moreover, the College promotes a multicultural postgraduate community, a perfect environment for my education and research programmes. I am now sharing my experience with my colleagues, fellows, friends, students, and teachers, together with government and non-government, high officials in Bangladesh. I am continuing my strong education and research links with Van Mildert College through alumni activities.

Contact Dr. Mohammad Mohiul Hoque


Dr. Harriet Rosenthal

Department of Psychology

My research interests lie within social psychology, where I specialise in examining stereotyping, prejudice, social identification, and adult attachment. My main area of research focuses on how being a member of a stereotyped group can impact on performance in the stereotyped domain, and how we can reduce these effects. Specifically, I examine the underlying causes and mechanisms of the negative effects of stereotype threat / choking under pressure and the positive effects of stereotype lift.

Contact Dr. Harriet Rosenthal


Prof. Brian Tanner

Brian Tanner, is Dean for University Enterprise, Professor of Physics and Chair of Van Mildert College Council. His research interests lie in understanding the relationship between magnetic, optical and structural properties of advanced materials, making particular use of high resolution X-ray scattering. In 1978 he co-founded a spin-off company, Bede Scientific Instruments Ltd., which pioneered high resolution X-ray diffraction as a metrology for semiconductor quality control. It floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2000. Brian is a non-executive director and Deputy Chairman of another Durham Physics Department spin-out, Kromek Ltd. Kromek’s technology is based on 1990s research work into the growth of high perfection crystals of the semiconductor cadmium telluride (CdTe), which was led by the late Professor Andrew Brinkman and to which Brian contributed X-ray studies. For the last decade, Brian has focused on the use of X-ray techniques to study ultra-thin film magnetic materials, known as spintronic materials, such as used in read heads for computer hard discs. Most recently, Brian led a multi-million Euro, European Commission Framework 7 project which developed an X-ray imaging technique to identify silicon wafers that would most probably shatter during high temperature processing. Jordan Valley Semiconductors (UK) Ltd, based in Durham and who acquired Bede Scientific in 2008, are now successfully selling quality control tools based on the scientific results of this project. Brian’s current fascination is with the scientific work of the 13th Century polymath Robert Grosseteste and he is a core team member of the interdisciplinary Ordered Universe project led by the Durham Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Brian has published 5 books and in addition to one paper in a social science journal, has over 380 papers in refereed international scientific journals, He was awarded the 2005 Barrett Award of the Pennsylvania-based International Center for Diffraction Data and in 2012 received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion.

Contact Prof. Brian Tanner


Prof. Stuart M. Wilson

School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health, Queen’s Campus

I have a long standing interest in membrane transport processes in mammalian cells and my most recent work (undertaken in collaboration with Matt Bailey, Edinburgh) has been focussed upon the mechanisms that allow hormones to regulate the retention of Na by the kidney. This process has great biological significance since it determines the amount of sodium lost in the urine and this, in turn, is critical to the control of whole body fluid balance and blood pressure. A full understanding of this process is therefore central to the development of effective treatment strategies for hypertension. Moreover, through collaboration with Chris Barratt (Dundee) and Steve Publicover (Birmingham), I have recently developed an interest in the mechanisms that allow hormones present in the female reproductive tract to stimulate the motility of human spermatozoa, a poorly understood process essential for successful fertilization. Both research strands depend upon the use of modern, biophysical methods to characterise the behaviour of specialist membrane proteins, known as ion channels, which allow electrolytes to cross the cell membrane.

Contact Prof. Stuart Wilson


Prof. Sir Arnold Wolfendale FRS, 14th Astronomer Royal

Department of Physics

I came to Durham in 1956 for 'two or 3 years'. Still here but re-founded Astronomy on the way. Personal Research: Cosmic Ray Astrophysics with special reference to the origin of these enigmatic particles and, for the past 5 years, some aspects of Climate Change. I collaborate with Professor Tolya Erlykin from Moscow, Professor Terry Sloan from Lancaster and Dr. Tadeusz Wibig from Lodz University, Poland.

Contact Professor Sir Arnold Wolfendale