New Executive Dean for Engineering & Physical Sciences

Professor Nora de Leeuw has been announced as the inaugural Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences.

Professor de Leeuw is a distinguished scientist, currently the Pro Vice-Chancellor (International & Europe) and Professor of Computational Chemistry at Cardiff University, where she has also led the Doctoral Academy.

She is also Professor of Theoretical Geochemistry at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and a Visiting Professor of Biomaterials at Université de Paris-Est in France.

Nora de Leeuw is an outstanding scholar and leader in her field... I am delighted to welcome her to the University.


A distinguished academic

Before moving to Cardiff, Professor de Leeuw held posts as the Director of Research & Innovation and Deputy Head of the Department of Chemistry at University College London, where she also held the position of Director of the Industrial Doctoral Centre in Molecular Modelling & Materials Science. 

Earlier, she was an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow and Reader in the Department of Crystallography at Birkbeck College London and Lecturer in Physical Chemistry at the University of Reading.

Professor de Leeuw is an elected Member of Academia Europaea and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. She is also elected Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and has held an Industry Fellowship and a Wolfson Research Merit award from the Royal Society.

Engineering & Physical Sciences 

The Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences is a new faculty to be established on 1 August 2019, building on the existing strengths of the Faculties of Engineering and Mathematics & Physical Sciences and excellence in student education and research in eight existing schools. 

The Faculty employs 1,100 staff, supporting 4,800 undergraduate students and 2,100 postgraduate students.  

The total income of the new Faculty will be c£150 million; and current developments include the Sir William Henry Bragg Building, the Bragg Centre for Materials Research and a new Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration.  

Bragg Centre building

The new Faculty will also draw heavily on the University’s membership of the Henry Royce, Rosalind Franklin and the Alan Turing national research institutes.

Working across disciplines 

Welcoming Professor de Leeuw to the University, Vice-Chancellor, Sir Alan Langlands said: “Nora de Leeuw is an outstanding scholar and leader in her field of computational chemistry, with an established international reputation. I am delighted to welcome her to the University. 

“She has a proven track record of working across disciplines, institutions and continents and is highly respected for her work in building enduring links between academia and industry, driving the development of innovative doctoral training centres and promoting high standards of undergraduate education. 

“As a distinguished academic and a highly regarded academic leader, I have no doubt that she will work in close partnership with her colleagues to realise the benefits of the new faculty. As a member of the University Executive Group, she will be an advocate for high standards of excellence across the University as a whole.”

Professor de Leeuw said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been given the opportunity to become the first Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Leeds.

The new Faculty offers real opportunities to develop innovative teaching programmes across the different Schools.


“I have always advocated cross-disciplinarity in both teaching and research and the new Faculty offers real opportunities to develop innovative teaching programmes across the different Schools.

“It will also offer students more diverse opportunities to experience different environments during their study or in their research projects, enabling them to make more informed choices about future study or employment.

“The Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, with the new Bragg building, the Bragg Centre for Materials Research and the High Speed Rail Institute, will be in an excellent position to take advantage of funding opportunities afforded by the Government’s Industrial Strategy and the closer collaboration between Research Councils under UKRI.”

The Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences will be in an excellent position to take advantage of funding opportunities.


Professor de Leeuw will take up post on 1 January 2020 and will be a regular visitor to the University in the meantime. 

Professor Steve Scott will be the acting Executive Dean of the new Faculty from 1 August 2019. Professor Peter Jimack will continue to lead in the relationship with Southwest Jiaotong University, the development of the site to host large-scale research and experimental facilities, which includes the Institute for High Speed Rail & System Integration, and a number of other projects.

Professors Scott and Jimack will work closely with Professor de Leeuw during the transition phase from 1 August 2019 to 1 January 2020.