Congratulations to our newly promoted academic colleagues

Professor Ali Roula and Dr Ray Higginson

Professor Ali Roula and Dr Ray Higginson

Many congratulations to Ali Roula (Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Science) and Ray Higginson (Faculty of Life Sciences and Education) who have been awarded the title of Professor and Associate Professor, respectively, in the latest Higher Academic Awards appointments. 

Professor Ali Roula

Ali Roula has been appointed as Professor of Biomedical Engineering in recognition of his work to apply the problem-solving techniques of computing and engineering to advance human health and healthcare.

Professor Roula is Director of the Centre for Electronic Product Engineering (CEPE), Academic Subject Manager for Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Innovation Champion for the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Science.  

Ali joined USW (then University of Glamorgan) in 2003 as a lecturer in electronics, after completing a degree in Electrical Engineering followed by a Computer Science PhD that investigated the use of medical imaging to improve cancer diagnosis. This dual background has fuelled a lifelong passion for research and innovation in biomedical engineering. 

In 2012 Professor Roula became Director of the Medical Electronics and Signal Processing Research Unit, now the Centre for Electronic Product Engineering, where he led a range of projects from brain computer interface and biomass measurements to electromagnetic tomographic detection of strokes. 

More recently, Ali worked with colleagues in Biology to develop the rapid point-of-care test for viral and bacterial infections. Prof Roula's main focus is to develop algorithms to improve diagnostic accuracy.

“One of the key drivers is reducing antibiotic resistance,” he said. “This technology has the potential to make molecular diagnostic fast, accessible, and affordable in a wide variety of low-cost settings, making it suitable for the detection of a range of viral and bacterial pathogens.”

Professor Roula is now working with industry to commercialise this technology. 


Dr Ray Higginson

Dr Ray Higginson has been appointed as Associate Professor in Life Science Applied to Clinical Practice. The award recognises his work in using education and research to inform clinical practice and enhance the professional practice of nursing. 

Dr Higginson joined the University in 2003 after a career as a nurse, and later as a biology teacher. 

After leaving school, he enrolled at the London School of Music to train as a piano tuner. He said: “I spent most of my time playing jazz licks and never actually learnt to tune a piano and so I left, moving to New York where I ended-up busing tables for a year. 

“Once back in the UK I decided that I needed to do something more secure and structured. I studied to be a nurse and, once qualified, worked in intensive care both in New Zealand and at Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales.”

Dr Higginson later re-trained as a biology teacher and chartered biologist, then spent 10 years studying for a Research Masters, a PgCert in Molecular Biology, and a PhD in Cardiac Rehabilitation. 

A senior lecturer in critical care nursing and physiology, Dr Higginson teaches physiology and research methods to pre- and post-registration nursing students and is involved in various research projects.      

“I am currently completing a series of papers on the COVID-19 pandemic and engaged in a drug-dosage-calculation project with an external organisation called safeMedicate, where I am helping to develop and explore different ways of assessing healthcare professionals' drug administration competence,” he said.

“Now that I have secured associate professor status, I am in the process of writing various grant applications to explore a variety of topics ranging from cardiac symptom recognition (a follow-on from the PhD) to physiological measurements during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Dr Ben Calvert, Vice-Chancellor, said: "Becoming an Associate Professor and Professor is huge achievement and marks significant and sustained effort which is recognised by independent expert reviewers as meeting the required standards. It is such a pleasure to read the applications as they come to the Committee for review – the range of work and impact these individuals have within and outside of USW is impressive. Congratulations to all of our new Associate Professors and Professors.”

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