Meet Sheffield's Conference Ambassadors

Sheffield's Conference Ambassadors are experts in their field, in everything from particle physics to orthopaedic surgery, and a world of specialisms in between. By bringing events to the city, these ambassadors not only generate substantial economic impact, but also raise the profile of our prestigious institutions and research areas - they are telling the world where Sheffield leads the way.

Chris Blundell

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals

As the president of BOFAS (the British Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society), Chris is proud to invite almost 500 members to Sheffield for the association’s Annual Scientific Meeting in 2017. It was after seeing the success of his colleague, David Stanley’s, conference in 2015 – and the support provided by the Sheffield Ambassador Programme – that Chris had the confidence to bid for it. He is fiercely proud of Sheffield and relishes any opportunity to showcase the city and the hospital to his peers.

Steve Haake OBE

Director of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre

Steve has been part of the Sheffield Ambassador Programme since it launched in 2007. He held his first conference – the first ever international conference in sports engineering – in Sheffield in 1996 and cites this as the catalyst for achieving a long-held aspiration of opening a research centre right here in Sheffield. He hosted the conference again in 2004, the largest in its history with more than 300 delegates. He has delivered over 60 keynote and invited lectures around the world, as well as writing 180 papers and nine books.

Matthew Malek

Lecturer in Experimental Particle Physics at the University of Sheffield

A relative newcomer to Sheffield, Matthew arrived here in 2015 and immediately enlisted the help of the Sheffield Ambassador Programme with his co-organisation of the Identification of Dark Matter Conference, which came to the city the following year. He found the programme so ‘amazingly helpful’ that he decided to organise a national conference for the Institute of Physics, too. He sees Sheffield as a hidden gem that conferences help people to discover, fall in love with and come back to.

Visakan Kadirkamanathan

Director, Rolls Royce University Technology Centre in Control & Systems Engineering

As one of Sheffield’s first ambassadors, Visakan joined after a colleague encouraged him to use the free support available. He admires the programme’s ability to make the university, and the particular activities they do as a centre of excellence, even more visible to his peers. Beyond the hands-on help, he enjoys meeting the people who provide catering, accommodation and venues in Sheffield so he always has the up-to-date information he needs. He is bringing an international conference to Sheffield in 2018.

Tony Ryan OBE

Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Sheffield 

As the founding director of the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, Tony is at the forefront of research into food, energy and water sustainability and has been involved with several high-profile events. He knows from experience that being a conference chair can help up-and-coming researchers make their name – and that the support from Sheffield Ambassador Programme makes this achievement all the more attainable. He encourages anyone who is proud of working in Sheffield to become an ambassador.

Elspeth Whitby

Radiologist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield

After discovering the Sheffield Ambassador Programme a few years ago, Elspeth’s involvement with it has ‘snowballed’ and she is now planning an international conference in 2018. She finds the time-saving and in-depth knowledge of Sheffield’s many venues incredibly helpful. In her role as an ambassador, she also encourages national bodies to host meetings outside London, which the programme handles with ease. She is proud to spread the message that Sheffield is an excellent location for meetings and conferences.  

David Sanders

Consultant Gastroenterologist and Professor of Gastroenterology

The gastroenterology unit at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital is one of the biggest and best in the UK. David was the first professor of gut medicine in Sheffield and has had more than 300 papers published in peer-reviewed journals. In 2017, he was named Clinical Nutrition Professional of the Year. He regularly holds meetings here including the Sheffield Gastroenterology Symposium, the biggest of its kind with more than 200 delegates. He praises the ambassador programme for helping to relieve the pressure of these meetings.

Val Gillet

Professor of Chemoinformatics at the University of Sheffield

The Information School at Sheffield has been at the forefront of developments in the information field for more than 50 years. In 2018, it was named number one for Library and Information Management by the QS World University Rankings by Subject reflecting its outstanding reputation globally.

Val’s primary research area is chemoinformatics and the application of machine learning methods to the discovery of new pharmaceuticals. In 2018, she welcomed more than 450 delegates to Sheffield for the iSchools’ annual international iConference – the first time it had been held in the UK.

Marta Cohen OBE

Consultant Paediatric Pathologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital

Marta discovered the Sheffield Ambassador Programme when she was invited to the annual dinner in 2015 and soon realised that it could help her bring the International Paediatric Pathology Association course to Sheffield. She’s delighted to be hosting the event in the city for the first time since it began here in 1978. Without the programme she never dreamed it would be possible and now plans to organise more courses that will put the Children’s Hospital and the city in the international spotlight.

Paul Dimitri

Consultant in Paediatric Endocrinology at Sheffield Children’s Hospital 

Paul is a huge asset to the children’s healthcare sector and has presented on the subject internationally. In 2015, he hosted the British Society of Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes conference with the help of the Sheffield Ambassador Programme and has been praising their expertise, efficiency and support ever since. But it’s the networking opportunities that have really captured Paul’s attention and his work with fellow ambassador Steve Haake is a fine example of how the programme ignites cross-sector collaboration. 

Matt Flinders

Professor of Politics
at the University of Sheffield

Matt is not only well known as founding director of the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics in Sheffield, but also as a writer and broadcaster. He has contributed to The Times and the Guardian, and hosted a 3-part series on BBC Radio 4. He became an ambassador to ‘put something back’ into the city and spread the word that Sheffield is a great place to live and work. He takes every opportunity to entice people out of London and show off what Sheffield has to offer.

Pam Bowman

Principal Lecturer in Visual Communication at Sheffield Hallam University

Graduate recruitment is one of Pam’s primary aims and bringing organisations to Sheffield to showcase her students’ creative talents is one of the best ways to secure those sought-after jobs. Pam finds the Sheffield Ambassador Programme’s help with hosting events ‘enormously helpful’ and has met lots of people she otherwise wouldn’t have crossed paths with. She’s always looking for opportunities to host collaborative events in Sheffield and knows that the programme will support her every step of the way.

Simon Polovina

Reader in Business Computing at Sheffield Hallam University

Simon became an ambassador in 2007 after hosting the International Conference for Conceptual Structures (ICCS) and has remained part of the programme ever since. He knows the support is there whenever he needs it and sees his role as an ambassador as a ‘win win’ situation – promoting the ‘friendly, supportive and cheerful’ team while benefiting from the bespoke services they provide. He thinks their ability to ease the burden on conference hosts and provide a distinctive Sheffield flavour is a bonus.

David Stanley

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Thornbury Hospital

David has been one of Sheffield’s most active conference hosts in recent years. He has organised many International Elbow Meetings in Sheffield with speakers from America, Australia and Europe, and in 2015 brought 400 delegates to the city for the British Elbow and Shoulder Society (BESS) Conference. The Sheffield Ambassador Programme has helped him use the city’s facilities to the very best of his ability, and he’s proud when visitors see how wonderful Sheffield and the surrounding areas are. 

Anne-Marie McMahon

Consultant Rheumatologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital

Established in 2011, the state-of-the-art Paediatric Rheumatology Centre at Sheffield Children’s Hospital has one of the UK’s biggest teams. Anne-Marie, one of the centre’s four consultants, caught the conferencing bug after helping the British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) organise Sheffield’s first conference for the British Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Rheumatology (BSPAR) – the largest in the society’s history with more than 300 delegates. She now plans to organise many more events in Sheffield.

Dan Wolstenholme & Irene Mabbott

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Long term ambassador dream team, Dan and Irene are celebrating leading a successful bid to bring the Royal College of Nursing International Research Conference to Sheffield in 2019. More than 400 delegates attend this leading annual scientific meeting of the nursing profession to present and debate leading edge research in nursing and discuss the implications of new nursing knowledge for health and social care policy and nursing practice. Dan is the Core Team Manager and Communications Lead for NIHR CLAHRC Yorkshire and Humber and is fascinated by the potential of design theory and practice in health. He is also involved with the annual Sheffield based Design4Health Conference.