Nick Petford (born 27 May 1961, London, England) is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Northampton. Previously he was Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) at Bournemouth University and before that Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Kingston University. He has also worked for BP and on academic and commercial research projects throughout the world, but is best known for his expertise in magmatic systems and volcanology.
Petford grew up in North London and Hillingdon, West London, before moving to the Hiltingbury district of Chandlers Ford where he went to The Mountbatten School, a comprehensive, near Southampton. He is married with three children. In 1977, Petford co-founded Strate Jacket, Southampton's first punk band. In the early 1980s he contributed to Geoff Wall's 'Stick it in your ear' tapes and played with the Lewisham-based Afghan Rebels.
Petford trained initially as a refrigeration engineer and worked in retail including at Liberty in Regent Street, before doing an Access Course in Science at Southwark College. This led to reading Geology at Goldsmiths, University of London (1984–1987). He received a PhD from the University of Liverpool in 1991 and a DSc in 2009.
He is a former Royal Society University Research Fellow and Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. Petford's contributions to the media on volcanoes include appearances on Sky News, BBC TV and Radio, the Richard and Judy show and National Geographic's "Top 10 Natural Disasters". In 2005, the BBC featured the work of his research team in a documentary Krakatoa Revealed. During the 2010 eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano this year he fronted the Channel 4 documentary The Volcano That Stopped Britain.
He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of London, American Geophysical Union and Associate, Chartered Institute of Marketing, and was Vice President of the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland (2002–2004). He is a Board member of UnLtd, the foundation for Social Entrepreneurs and non-executive director of Fluvial Innovations, a university spin-out company that manufactures and sells Floodstop flood defence barriers.
His unlikely career turns were featured on the BBC Radio 4 show, Whatever Happened To? in August 2018, along with two former classmates John Russell-Sanders and Dave Coombs from their refrigeration course at Eastleigh Technical College in 1977.
- Petford N, AR Cruden, KJW McCaffrey, JL Vigneresse. 2000. Granite magma formation, transport and emplacement in the Earth's crust. Nature 408 (6813): 669
- Petford N, M Atherton. 1996. Na-rich partial melts from newly underplated basaltic crust: the Cordillera Blanca Batholith, Peru. Journal of Petrology 37(6): 1491-1521.
- Atherton MP, N Petford. 1993. Generation of sodium-rich magmas from newly underplated basaltic crust. Nature 362 (6416), 144.
- "New Vice Chancellor welcomed to the University of Northampton". Northampton.ac.uk. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
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- "Top Ten Natural Disasters". Natgeotv.com. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
- "Unravelling Krakatoa's secrets". BBC News. 2006-05-07. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- "The Volcano That Stopped Britain". Channel4.com. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- "BBC Radio 4 - Whatever Happened To...?, Series 1, The Refrigeration Engineers". BBC. Retrieved 10 May 2020.