The University has announced the appointments of Professors, Readers and – for the first time in its history – Senior Professional Practice Fellows.

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The promotions recognise colleagues making an impact with strong track records of high-quality research and knowledge exchange, distinctive authority in subject areas, and leadership within Leeds Trinity.

The appointments comprise of:

  • Professors Denis Kobzev, Professor of Business Education, and Catherine O’Connor, Professor of Higher Education, Learning and Teaching;
  • Readers Dr James Jackson (Psychology), Dr Christopher Lewis (Psychology) and Dr Juliette Taylor-Batty (English and Comparative Literature); and
  • Senior Professional Practice Fellows Katherine Blair (Journalism), Dr Leigh Hoath (Institute for Childhood & Education), Dr Danielle McDermott (Forensic Psychology), Bev Peartree (Institute for Childhood & Education), and Dr Chris Sellars (Sport, Health and Physical Education).

This is the first time that Leeds Trinity has appointed Senior Professional Practice Fellows. In this role, colleagues will help to shape the agenda around skills and development in their subject areas, and take responsibility for leading and developing professional practice contributions to the portfolio of University activities.

A key part of this will be the delivery of professional practice within the curriculum and wider student experience, including preparation for placements and career development for the graduate jobs market – ensuring this is informed by research and knowledge exchange outcomes.

Professor Malcolm Todd, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Leeds Trinity University, said: “We are delighted to announce the outcome of Leeds Trinity’s recent academic promotion round. The wealth of appointments reflects a step-up at the University in terms of high-quality research and knowledge exchange, and highlights the calibre of teaching within the institution.

“It is also particularly exciting to appoint the first Senior Professional Practice Fellows at Leeds Trinity, which emphasises our commitment to teaching and learning excellence, and to enhancing the student learning experience. Congratulations to all colleagues recognised in this promotion round.” 

Claire Newhouse, Director of Centre for Apprenticeships, Work-based Learning and Skills (CAWBLS) and University lead for Knowledge Exchange, added: “Appointing the first Senior Professional Practice Fellows at Leeds Trinity is an important step for us. It gives greater focus to sharing ideas, research and skills related to professional practice, and will ensure continued development in this area.

“In addition, all Senior Professional Practitioners are recognised as Senior Fellows of HEA (Advance HE), reflecting a personal and institutional commitment to professionalism in teaching and learning in higher education.”  

Promotions to Professor and Reader also demonstrate the University’s focus on academic excellence and leadership on teaching quality, which is driven by research, knowledge exchange and practice.

The title of Professor recognises an individual’s distinction and eminence in their academic activity. There are three routes by which Professors gain the title: academic excellence, leadership, and learning and teaching.

Readership is a distinction awarded to those who have made a significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge in their field through original research and/or innovation in the application of their work.

Find out more about Leeds Trinity’s academic and research-led culture.


Read our staff members' biographies:

Senior Professional Practice Fellows

  • Katherine Blair is a Senior Lecturer at the Leeds Trinity University's Centre for Journalism. She is also the Programme Leader for Broadcast Journalism and teaches other journalism modules including the MA Journalism. Her objectives as a Senior Professional Practice Fellow are to develop international opportunities for students, including study abroad and international boot camps, and to embark on Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) projects.
  • Dr Leigh Hoath is a Senior Lecturer in the Institute for Childhood & Education (ICE) and PGCE Science Lead. Her interests lie in teacher research, science education and outdoor setting pedagogy. As a Senior Professional Practitioner, Dr Hoath plans to expand and grow ICE’s subject-level Continuing Professional Development (CPD) offer, increase knowledge exchange activities with partner schools through tailored CPD and bespoke consultancy, and further develop the teacher-led research group established in 2019/20.
  • Dr Danielle McDermott is a Chartered Psychologist and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Authority (HEA). In 2019, she successfully led the winning bid for a three-year, £1.5 million contract to deliver the MSc Applied Custodial Leadership as part of the prestigious Unlocked Graduates leadership programme. Prior to working in academia, she spent over 10 years working in prisons and was the treatment manager for the Safer Custody at HMP Leeds. Her research interests are in the areas of offender risk, particularly in relation to self-harm and suicide. As a Senior Professional Practice Fellow, Danielle plans to build our reputation for high quality, practitioner-led, and applied courses and to lead on research outputs that are both impactful and inclusive.
  • Bev Peartree is a Senior Lecturer in the Institute for Childhood & Education (ICE), the programme leader for the MA Mental Health in Children and Young People and holds the National Award for SEN Co-ordination. She completed 30 years in the school sector with a track record of impactful leadership and securing outcomes in the top 10% of schools nationally for special educational needs and disability (SEND). Her expertise and skills are in the area of mental health and trauma-informed practice. One of her future aims as a Senior Professional Practitioner is to build a community of advanced inclusive practice to support the student experience and further develop collaborative responses to training and education in SEND and mental health in children and young people.
  • Dr Chris Sellars is Head of Department, Sport, Health and Physical Education (SHAPE) in the School of Social and Health Sciences. Chris started his professional life in sports development and then coach education, before becoming a HE senior lecturer and gaining accreditation as a sport and exercise science practitioner and chartered psychologist. His research interests include the coach-athlete relationship and leadership in sport. His objective as Senior Professional Practice Fellow is to map current School of Social and Health Sciences activity. 


  • Denis Kobzev, Professor of Business Education, holds both academic degrees and professional certificates. His research interests are multidisciplinary and include specialist education and psychology, with particular focus on Higher Education and Health Care operations aspects, which allow him to maintain intensive research collaborations with academic, industry and research networks internationally. Professor Kobzev is widely published and has delivered over 200 hours of CPD. He is currently working on the Ad:Venture programme, developing a series of Operational Excellence workshops.
  • Catherine O’Connor, Professor of Higher Education, Learning and Teaching, is an Academic Head of School, School of Communication, Business and Law. She spent 10 years in regional media leadership roles before joining Leeds Trinity. Professor O’Connor is currently leading the project team responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the development of the University’s approach to blended teaching and learning. She has a strong track-record of innovation, including collaborative course design work with employers.


Each of our Readers is engaged in highly innovative research that has real-world impacts:

  • Dr James Jackson, Reader in Psychology, having received funding from the British Tinnitus Association, is making a significant contribution through his collaborative, interdisciplinary, and highly impactful research on alleviating Tinnitus and the distress it can cause to the 1 in 8 (13%) people in the UK population who experience it.
  • Dr Christopher Alan Lewis, Reader in Psychology, Co-Editor of the journal Mental Health, Religion & Culture (Taylor and Francis / Routledge) since its inception in 1999, is engaged in a project evaluating the selection and assessment process for ordination Church of England, and collaborates on The Roman Catholic Diocese of Leeds research project ‘From Parish to Mission’.
  • Dr Juliette Taylor-Batty, Reader in English and Comparative Literature, is working across languages and literary traditions. Drawing on translation studies and recent debates in World Literature Studies, she is demonstrating the importance of translation and multilingualism in literary production and examines the ways in which literature can challenge linguistic and national boundaries.

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