The UWI announces the appointments of new Professors in the fields of Music, Law, Astronomy, Engineering, and Medical Microbiology

The Office of Administration at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) is pleased to announce the promotion of five academics to Professors, the highest academic rank at the institution. The newly appointed are Professor David Akombo in the field of music; Professor David Berry in the field of law; Professor Shirin Haque, the first at the University in the field of astronomy; Professor Krishpersad Manohar in the field of mechanical engineering and Professor Alison Merle Nicholson in the field of Medical Microbiology.

The five earned their promotions following a rigorous assessment process by independent external assessors which included evaluation of the quality and quantity of their research, publications, and other professional activities. In addition, their contributions to the enhancement of the University’s reputation are considered. The promotions took effect from May 2022.

More about the new Professors

Professor David Akombo
Professor David Akombo is an internationally recognised educator, researcher, and scholar in the fields of music education and interdisciplinary research in the arts and health. An Ethnomusicologist by profession, Professor Akombo was the founding Dean of the Faculty of Culture, Creative and Performing Arts at the Cave Hill Campus. He joined The UWI in 2020 with a wealth of experience from his multidisciplinary and cross-cultural groundings.

He holds a PhD from the University of Florida, an MMus from Bowling Green State University, Ohio; an MA from Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, and a BEd from Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya. Before joining The UWI, Professor Akombo held positions in research, teaching, and administration at various prestigious institutions of higher learning in the United States, ranging from University Distinguished Diversity Fellow to Department Chair, to Associate Dean.

Professor Akombo’s eclectic research interests include Music Education, Ethnomusicology, Community Music, Comprehensive Musicianship, Music and Cognition, Music Technology, Psychology of Music, and interdisciplinary of Music and Biomedical Sciences. He is the author of 14 books and book chapters, over 30 articles in peer-reviewed journals, and encyclopaedic entries published in The SAGE International Encyclopaedia of Music and Culture and The Encyclopaedia of Society and Culture in the Ancient World. He has also produced several non-refereed publications. These include three co-edited and two single-editor books, six Musical Performances/Compositions, and two internet publications, and he is also an Editor/Reviewer for many professional journals. His research and experience have made him a highly-sought speaker who has been invited to give lectures at Brigham Young University, Boston University, and a UNICEF-funded project in Jamaica among others.

Professor Akombo teaches Music Education, General Musicianship, and Research Methods in Music, Interdisciplinary Studies in Music and Health. He has co-supervised five PhD dissertations, three Master’s theses and he has also developed new courses for the Faculty. He has been the recipient of many research grants since 2011. In addition, he is a volunteer consultant in the Music and Health Research Project in Kenya, and a member of the Scientific Committee, Interdisciplinary, and Virtual Conference of Arts in Education.

One assessor expressed his support for Professor Akombo, stating, “… it is without any hesitation that I recommend Dr. Akombo for promotion to the rank of Full Professor. The significant professional growth he has demonstrated over the last two decades is evidenced by the continued expansion of his international reputation as a published researcher and scholar of the highest calibre, editor of professional journals and books, and frequent conference speaker. During this time, he has made a strong contribution to the music education profession beyond what many professionals would match in their professional lifetime. He brings a high level of authority, respect, and expertise to the international profession of music education.”

Professor David Berry
Professor David Berry’s service to The UWI spans 25 years. Before his professorial appointment, he was a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the Cave Hill Campus. In 2012, he became the first University Dean of Law, a position created after the formation of full Faculties of Law at the St. Augustine and Mona Campuses, and served for two years. He also completed two consecutive terms as Dean of the Faculty at Cave Hill from 2012-2016 and 2016-2020. In 2018, he was reappointed as University Dean until 2020.

Professor Berry holds a PhD in Law from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland; a Legal Education Certificate from the Council of Legal Education, Hugh Wooding Law School, Trinidad and Tobago; an LLM from Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada; an LLB from the University of British Columbia and a BA degree from the University of Toronto, Canada.

He was called to the Bar in British Columbia, Canada, in 1992 as a Barrister, Solicitor, and Notary Public and in 2011 to the Barbados Bar. In 2019 he qualified as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) and in 2021 he made the Institute’s approved faculty list.

Professor Berry practices in various areas of international law. He is currently serving as a Key Legal Expert with CARICOM’s Consultancy for the Review of Caribbean Community Institutions, as an Expert and member of the CARICOM Regional Advisory Group on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction, and as an arbitrator in an International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes arbitration.

His peer-reviewed publications include eight journal articles, one independently authored monograph, one coedited book, nine book chapters, and three technical papers. He has also published four non-refereed journal articles and three book chapters and has been invited to make over 80 academic presentations. His book, Caribbean Integration Law (OUP 2014) was widely cited in academic circles and before the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Among Professor Berry’s accolades include receiving a Cave Hill Campus Positioning the University to Lead through Service Points Award in 2021, and the Cave Hill Campus Principal’s Award for Excellence (Academic Category) in 2014. He was featured in The UWI’s 60th Anniversary publication, “60 Under 60” in 2008, and between 2001 and 2006 he received the Faculty’s Best Lecturer of the Year Award (Level II).

For his service outside the University, Professor Berry was inducted into the Hall of Eminent Caribbean International Law Jurists in 2019. He is the founder and a member of the Caribbean Branch of the International Law Association, serves on its Committee on International Commercial Arbitration, and is a member of both the Caribbean Branch and Barbados Chapter of CIArb. He is also a former member of the Council of Legal Education.

In reviewing his work, one external assessor commented, “Dr. Berry’s contributions are important both because he puts the focus of his research on the Caribbean, an area understudied in the general context of international law and constitutional law, and also has more wide-ranging research contributions that have contributed to the advancement of the discipline as a whole”.

Professor Shirin Haque
Professor Shirin Haque has made history as the first in her field at The UWI to rise to the rank of Professor.

Her qualifications include a PhD in Physics (Astronomy) from The UWI, St. Augustine Campus in collaboration with the Department of Astronomy at the University of Virginia on an IDB Fellowship, as well as an MPhil in Physics (Astronomy), an MPhil in Psychology and a BSc in Physics, all from The UWI, St. Augustine Campus.

Before her professorial appointment, she served as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics at St. Augustine. She was the only student pursuing and graduating from the Department of Physics at St. Augustine in Astronomy for decades until the seven postgraduate students she supervised.

Professor Haque’s main research interests include astrobiology, observational astronomy, cosmology, and solar astronomy. She has also published in cross-disciplinary fields on psychology cultural studies in science, women in science, and science education, and she has earned a total of TT$2.8 million in research grants. She led The UWI to be the only non-US partner in a multi-University initiative in Radio Astronomy and secured funding for local students.

She has published many scholarly works of note, including a publication in the prestigious journal Science in Astrobiology. The themes of observational astronomy, astrobiology, and physics are explored throughout five book chapters and thirty-six discipline-specific publications. Her other publications include seven non-discipline-specific publications and six technical reports, as well as thirty-three conference presentations and papers. She has also edited four conference publications, produced eighteen science magazine issues, and produced four documentaries, two series for television, and numerous online media and popular science articles.

Her accolades include the Anthony N. Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence for Science and Technology in 2020. In 2018, she was the first female awardee of the CARICOM Science Award and earned the Outstanding Woman Award UWI 70th Anniversary from the Institute for Gender and Development Studies. She has also received The UWI Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2005 and the international AAU Distinguished Teacher Award in 2004 among many others. Her long list of trailblazing successes began as a UWI student when she won The Most Outstanding Thesis Award in 1997 and 1998 after reading for her PhD.

Following the review of the extent of her work, one of her external assessors commented, “In short, Dr. Haque has a varied research programme that has made some important contributions to fields including accreting supermassive black holes with powerful relativistic jets (the so-called “blazars”), as well as astrobiology, in particular the viability of life in environments such as oil droplets or asphalt deserts, through experiments in pitch lakes and mud volcanoes…All of her work is clearly original, and several of her papers have been highly cited. Dr. Haque’s unusual breadth of interests, her initiative in creating new observational and experimental programmes, and her engagement with undergraduate students in an environment where it is challenging to attract graduate students, make her publication record impressive in context.”

Professor Krishpersad Manohar
A UWI Alumnus, and Mechanical Engineer by profession, Professor Krishpersad Manohar started his career at the University as an Assistant Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering in 1995, bringing with him several years of industrial experience. He was promoted to Lecturer in 2000 and Senior Lecturer in 2009, serving dutifully until his recent promotion to Professor. He has also acted as Head of Department, served on various department and faculty committees, including Campus Academic Board, and contributed to public service committees on behalf of the Campus.

Both Professor Manohar’s PhD and BSc in Mechanical Engineering are from The UWI. He has produced many applied and experimental works and collaborations in Energy and Thermo/Fluid Mechanical Engineering and sourced significant grant funding for the same. He was also hosted twice as Guest Researcher at Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, Tennessee, USA. Professor Manohar has published in several high-impact journals with thirty-nine peer-reviewed articles, nineteen of which he is first author and fourteen peer-reviewed conference papers.

In 2012, Professor Manohar was instrumental in conducting a comprehensive review of the curriculum for the thermal engineering suite of courses in the Department, which is one of the streams in which students can choose to specialise. The syllabus for the levels I and II thermal engineering courses was completely revised and modified to align with international standards and satisfy accreditation requirements.

He has supervised four PhD projects, one MPhil and six MSc students, in addition to second-examining five others. At the undergraduate level, Professor Manohar supervised over one hundred and sixty final year projects in Mechanical Engineering. He was the Department’s Most Outstanding Lecturer in 2015, and received the UWI-NGC Outstanding Research Mentorship Award and was the Campus Principal’s representative for Car En Train-Mainstreaming Energy Efficiency and Climate Change in Built Environment Training from 2014 to 2016.

Professor Manohar is member of The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) CARICOM Chapter and was instrumental in forming the ASHRAE CARICOM Student Chapter at The UWI St. Augustine Campus. He is also a member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and has reviewed technical papers for several journals and has been a reviewer for the West Indian Journal of Engineering since 2004. He conducted reviews for the Heat Transfer Engineering Journal; British Journal of Applied Science & Technology; Environmental Engineering and Management Journal; International Robotics & Automation Journal; and Current Journal of Applied Science & Technology.

After reviewing his work, one assessor noted, “Dr. Manohar works in the field of energy and thermal/fluid sciences. Particularly noteworthy are the breadth of his contributions in areas ranging from thermal insulation to wave energy harnessing and wind power. I found his papers to be well-written and impactful in addressing the energy challenges that humanity faces. They present fundamental insights of much import to applications and contribute significantly to advancing the state of knowledge in the field. He has distinguished himself through his scholarly output in several peer-reviewed journals, and his research meets the high academic standard expected of faculty at his stage of the career”.

Professor Alison M. Nicholson
UWI Alumna and new Professor Alison M. Nicholson is a Consultant Microbiologist, and Infection Prevention and Control Doctor at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and former Head of the Department of Microbiology at the Mona Campus.

She earned her DM in Medical Microbiology and her MBBS at Mona, following which, she began her tenure at the UHWI as a Resident in 1994. Her general area of specialisation is in Medical Microbiology and she has spent over twenty years honing her skills in Antimicrobial Resistance Microbial Infections and Infection Prevention & Control, learning best practices that she shares readily with others across the Caribbean.

She joined the University’s teaching staff in 1999 as a Lecturer in Microbiology and recently completed two terms as Head of Department, guiding it through the tremendous challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak. She has served as Chair of the Infection Control Committee since 2012.

Throughout her academic career, Professor Nicholson has published over thirty-six peer-reviewed articles, one book chapter, forty-five abstracts, and four technical reports. She has also received research grants and led and conducted several training workshops.

Professor Nicholson has supervised research projects for students in the DM Microbiology and Masters in Microbiology programmes. She has delivered numerous training workshops across Jamaica on Antimicrobial Stewardship and Infection Prevention & Control in the Healthcare Setting. From 2010 to 2018, she was an Internal Examiner for the DM in Microbiology and has been a University Examiner since 2019. She has also coordinated the DM in Microbiology programme since 2010. In 2021 she developed the Postgraduate Diploma programme in Infection Prevention and Control in the Health Care Environment and is currently the Director of this programme in its first year. She is a member of the Governance Team of the UHWI COVID-19 Task Force. Outside The UWI, she holds memberships in professional societies in the Caribbean, USA, and the UK.

She is co-founder of the Caribbean Association of Clinical Microbiologists (CACM) which was started in 2004 and continues to have an impact in the field of Microbiology. Regionally, she has been recognised by the CACM for her work in this area.

One of her assessors commented, “Dr. Nicholson is a leader in her field and has been a driving force for clinical practice and medical education in her region. She has demonstrated significant academic productivity that is within the range commensurate of a Full Professor. It is my opinion that she has demonstrated and/or achieved criteria of productivity, leadership, and international recognition that merits promotion to Full Professor.”

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