Shearer West was formerly Professor of Art History at the University of Birmingham and was seconded from 2008-11 to be Director of Research at the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of Research Councils UK.
She has published nine authored and edited books on eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century European art, and many peer-reviewed essays and articles, including prize-winning publications. Her specialist area is the history of portraiture.
She has held two visiting Fellowships at Yale University, served on the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise sub-panel for History of Art, Architecture and Design, and has acted as a teaching assessor for the QAA, in addition to numerous external consultancies. She went to the AHRC after four years as Head of the School of Historical Studies, then Acting Head of the College of Arts and Law, at the University of Birmingham. Her AHRC role included overseeing the strategic direction of arts and humanities research programmes, including knowledge transfer, and she has held a number of international leadership roles, including chairing the Joint Research Programmes for the European Humanities network (HERA). While at AHRC, she was also appointed chair of the RCUK Research Group, which consists of Research and Science Directors across all seven of the Research Councils.