Science today is not only about the work of academics and researchers: it relies on a broad spectrum of dedicated people – teachers and mentors, policy makers and regulators, writers and broadcasters, business entrepreneurs and product developers.
A Science Council initiative, aimed at recognising the many heroes of science, includes nine Cambridge scientists in its list of the top 100 people.
Science Council chief executive Diana Garnham said: “Science is like an orchestra. It takes many instruments working together to produce a fine performance. At the moment, almost exclusively, it is the virtuosity of the soloists being addressed and praised. It is vital that this narrow vision is challenged urgently because it is inhibiting education policy, the career ambitions of young people and investment in developing the skills we need to deliver a world-class economy.”
To create its list, the Science Council identified ten different scientist roles, among them policy maker, teacher, communicator and service provider. Member organisations and other partners were invited to nominate individuals for each of the categories whose current engagement with UK science is such that other scientists look to them for leadership in their sector or career.
Sir Tom Blundell, chairman of the judging panel, said: “Most emphatically the list shows that not all scientists wear white coats and that scientists are not only found in universities and research labs: they are everywhere in a wide variety of careers and occupations.”
University of Cambridge scientists included in the list of the top 100 UK practising scientists were:
Professor Shankar Balasubramanian: Herchel Smith Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, Department of Chemistry. Recognised for his work in the applications of chemistry to biological and medical sciences and as the principal inventor of the leading next generation DNA sequencing methodology. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal Society.
Dr Hannah Critchlow: Content designer, editor and presenter for Neuroscience and Naked Scientists. Recognised for her energy and enthusiasm for communicating complex science issues in an accessible way. She has also featured on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Cambridgeshire, ABC Australian Radio National and South African stations.
Professor Dame Athene Donald: Professor of Experimental Physics, Department of Physics. Recognised for her public championing of greater representation and progression of women in science through her blogging and media activities. She has served on the Royal Society's Equality and Diversity Advisory Network, as well as standing on a number of Cambridge University’s equality and diversity committees. She is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics and a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Sir Alan Fersht: Department of Chemistry. Recognised for his pioneering research of protein engineering, which he developed as a primary method for analysis of the structure, activity and folding of proteins. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal Society.
Professor Andy Hopper: Head of the Computer Laboratory. Recognised for co-founding over a dozen spin-outs and start-ups, three of which floated on stock markets, as well as working for multinational companies. He is a past-President and Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society. He is also a Chartered Engineer.
Professor James Jackson: Head of the Department of Earth Sciences. Recognised for exploring continental tectonic formations in areas of active plate movement such as Africa, Iran and the Aegean. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society from which he has been awarded the President’s Award and the Bigsby Medal for his contribution to geoscience.
Lord Martin Rees: Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics, Institute of Astronomy. Recognised for his appointment to the position of the Astronomer Royal in 1995 after a career spent at the cutting edge of astrophysics and cosmology research. He is President of the Association for Science Education, Fellow and past-President of Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Society.
Lord Sainsbury: Recognised for his charitable and philanthropic activities, the founder of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and former Minister for Science, Lord Sainsbury is a champion of high-quality technical education and apprenticeships in science. Chancellor of the University, an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Biology, Royal Society of Chemistry, Academy of Medical Sciences, Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society.
Dr Peter Wothers: Department of Chemistry. Recognised for his role in helping to bridge the transition between sixth-form and university through his leadership in developing the syllabus for the Chemistry Pre-University qualification. He is currently the Chair of the Steering Committee for the International Chemistry Olympiad, run by the Royal Society of Chemistry, of which he is a Fellow.
Nine members of the University have been recognised as part of an initiative to raise awareness of the spectrum of roles that contribute to science.
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