Belfast Telegraph

World-leading scientists are to be honoured with degrees

By Staff Reporter

Two noted science academics are to be honoured by Queen's University during the third day of its summer graduations today.

Professor Sir John Pethica, one of the most significant figures in the field of physical science, and Professor Lesley Yellowlees, a world-leading voice on science and engineering, will receive honorary degrees.

Sir John is a professor of physics and honorary fellow at Trinity College, Dublin, and until May 2017 he was chief scientific adviser at the National Physical Laboratory UK.

Internationally renowned for his work in nanotechnology, Sir John was the founding director of CRANN, Ireland's first purpose-built nanoscience research centre and of the Naughton Institute at Trinity, and was previously professor of materials at Oxford and founder of Nano Instruments Inc. in the USA.

Elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1999, he was vice-president and physical secretary of the Royal Society from 2009 to 2014. He received the RS Hughes medal in 2001, was elected FREng in 2013, and received a knighthood in 2014.

Sir John is also an accomplished musician and has played Irish traditional fiddle music from an early age.

Before receiving the honorary degree, Sir John said: "I have always had great respect and affection for Queen's University and I am impressed by the scientific research that takes place here.

"It is an honour and a privilege to be recognised in this manner by Queen's University."

Also being honoured is Professor Yellowlees MBE, CBE, who is receiving the degree for services to science.

Professor Yellowlees is currently serving as vice-principal at the University of Edinburgh and head of the college of science and engineering. Professor Yellowlees is the first female to hold both of these prestigious roles.

She was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2005 and an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2015. In 2012 she became a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and is also a fellow of the Institute of Physics.

In 2005 Professor Yellowlees was awarded an MBE for services to science and CBE in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to chemistry.

Offering some advice to her fellow graduates, Professor Yellowlees said: "To be successful in today's global economy you must act with integrity, embrace change and take risks.

"I am delighted to see the extensive work Queen's University is doing to encourage females to study STEM subjects."

She added: "It's quite an honour to receive an honorary doctorate from Queen's University Belfast."

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