Sidmouth's Dilly named as professor at UCL
PUBLISHED: 19:30 25 June 2016
A Sidmothian academic has been appointed as a professor in a world-leading university - and she hopes her success inspires youngsters in the town.
A keen pupil from an early age, Diane ‘Dilly’ Fung is now outspoken on the need to engage students in university research.
She grew up in Salter’s Meadow, from where her parents George and Sylvia Carr have expressed their pride.
“She’s done so much, I can’t keep up,” said Sylvia, who was a town councillor at the same time as her daughter.
“We knew she could do it. We knew when she was four years old. She always loved school and never left that academic life.”
George added: “You can’t imagine your child will do this – you just hope they’ll be happy. She has done amazingly well.”
Dilly, 57, took her undergraduate degree at the University of Southampton, then earned her doctorate in Exeter.
She is now a professor of higher education development at University College, London, where she is actively engaged in transforming the curriculum to connect students with the university’s outstanding researchers.
Grandmother-of-one Dilly, who is married to retired Sidmouth GP Peter Fung, said: “Looking back to my Sidmouth school days, at Manstone Infants or St Nicholas [now both Sidmouth Primary School], I could never have imagined what a professor was, let alone that I would become one.
“As the first person in my family to go to university, just getting there at all was a big adventure.
“I hope that my experience will inspire some young people in Sidmouth today to think about an academic career.
“It’s a great way of exploring ideas, meeting people, travelling, and even making a positive difference to the world.”
Dilly’s work is about involving students with research, in their different subjects but also across subjects of study, at every level of their degree programme.
This gives students new opportunities to connect with one another and also with local, national and even global communities.
They can investigate real-world challenges, collaborate with one another and with experienced researchers in finding solutions and then present their work to real audiences.