Photo of Prof. Nick Petford

Prof. Nick Petford

  • Job title: Vice Chancellor
  • Department: Office of Vice Chancellor

General information

Professor Nick Petford is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Northampton. Previously Pro Vice Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) at Bournemouth University and before that Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Kingston University, Nick has worked in industry (BP) and on academic and commercial research projects throughout the world, most recently as a consultant to DFID (UK) and CONICYT, the National Research Council for Chile. Nick is a former Royal Society University Research Fellow and Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. He has held visiting research appointments at the Universities of Michigan and Vermont (USA) and NASA and is currently visiting professor at Macquarie University (Australia) and The Open University.

Nick is known internationally for his expertise in magmatic systems and volcanology and is a highly cited author with over 250 journal papers, abstracts, book reviews and other articles to his name (some from a brief stint as a journalist at the Times Higher). His research work embraces field investigations and mathematical modeling of the flow of molten rock on earth and other planets, and the mechanical stability of volcanoes. He is currently working with colleagues at NASA on the physics of ice magma. Most recently he has begun research work on the fluid dynamics of blood flow. 

He has worked on a diverse range of collaborative projects aimed at bridging the so-called art-science gap, and has taught on Kingston University's Curating Contemporary Design MA with colleagues from the Design Museum and Welcome Trust.

Nick has also contributed to the debate on energy usage and climate change and is currently working on a British Council-funded social enterprise project in the Niger Delta in an effort to reduce child mortality from malaria and on developing new methods for imaging radon tracks for environmental health monitoring.

Nick has contributed extensively to the media in relation to both volcanology and Higher Education matters.  In 2005 the BBC featured the work of his research team in the documentary 'Krakatoa Revealed'.  During the 2010 eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano he fronted the Channel 4 documentary 'The Volcano that Stopped Britain'.  He has worked with Pioneer Productions on the documentaries 'The Birth of Britain' and 'the Birth of Europe' and in 2013 travelled to Indonesia to film for the National Geographic series 'Top Ten Natural Disasters'.  He has appeared on Sky News and on BBC TV and radio.  Nick also writes a regular blog for the Guardian Higher Education Network. 

Nick has served on numerous professional bodies at Board and leadership level. He is currently a member of the Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership Board, the Northamptonshire Health and Wellbeing Board, South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership Board, Universities and Colleges Employers Association Board, the Universities UK Board and is Chair of Procurement UK. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society, the RSA, the American Geophysical Union and Associate of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. He is a Director of Floodstop, a University spin-out company that manufactures and sells flood defence barriers.


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  1. Devecchi, C., Al-Sherbaz, A., Turner, S. J., Taeed, O. and Petford, N. (2018) Capturing and transacting ‘value for students’ in the Digital University: the Blockchain Educational Passport. Invited Presentation presented to: University of Northampton Research Conference 2018, University of Northampton, 20-21 June 2018.


  1. Wertheim, D., Gillmore, G., Gill, I. and Petford, N. (2017) High resolution 3D confocal microscope imaging of volcanic ash particles. Science of The Total Environment. 590-591, pp. 838-842. 0048-9697.
  2. Petford, N. and Mirhadizadeh, S. (2017) Image based modelling of lateral magma flow: the Basement Sill, Antarctica. Royal Society Open Science. 4 2054-5703.


  1. Petford, N. and Allen, N. (2015) Bucking the trend: part-time Master’s students at the University of Northampton. In: Hillman, N. (ed.) It’s the Finance, Stupid! The Decline of Part-time Higher Education and What to do about it. Oxford: Higher Education Policy Institute. pp. 85-92.


  1. Wertheim, D., Covington, A. D., Petford, N., Murray, T. and Antunes, A. P. M. (2014) Microscopic examination of skin structure. International Journal of Clinical & Medical Imaging. 1(1) 2376-0249.


  1. Antunes, A. P. M., Covington, A. D., Petford, N., Murray, T. and Wertheim, D. (2013) Three-dimensional visualization of dermal skin structure using confocal laser scanning microscopy. Journal of Microscopy. 251(1), pp. 14-18. 1365-2818.


  1. Galvin, K., Petford, N., Ajose, F. and Davies, D. (2011) An exploratory qualitative study on perceptions about mosquito bed nets in the Niger Delta: what are the barriers to sustained use? Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare. 4, pp. 73-83. 1178-2390.
  2. Coldwell, B., Clemens, J. and Petford, N. (2011) Deep crustal melting in the Peruvian Andes: Felsic magma generation during delamination and uplift. Lithos. 125(1-2), pp. 272-286. 0024-4937.
  3. Rushmer, T. and Petford, N. (2011) Micro segregation rates of liquid Fe-Ni-S metal in natural silicate-metal systems: A combined experimental and numerical study. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. 12(3) 1525-2027.
  4. Petford, N. (2011) Reconstituting the university as a social enterprise. Research Fortnight. 378, p. 23. 1358-1198.


  1. Thompson, N., Bennett, M. R. and Petford, N. (2010) Development of characteristic volcanic debris avalanche deposit structures: New insight from distinct element simulations. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. 192(3-4), pp. 191-200. 0377-0273.
  2. Petford, N. (2010) Flying high under the radar. Research Fortnight. 356, p. 22. 1358-1198.


  1. Petford, N., Koenders, M. A. and Turner, S. (2008) Channelized melt flow in downwelling mantle: Implications for 226Ra-210Pb disequilibria in arc magmas. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. 113(B11202) 2169-9356.
This list was generated from NECTAR on Wed Aug 15 01:35:20 2018 BST.

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