A number of our members received recognition for their contributions to science and society in the 2017 New Year Honours.
Professor Shankar Balasubramanian MRSC FRS from the University of Cambridge received a knighthood for services to science and medicine. Professor Balasubramanian is a nucleic acid chemist and co-inventor of Solexa sequencing, which enables rapid, high throughput and economical sequencing of DNA, the blueprint of life.
Professor Tom Brown, who is professor of nucleic acid chemistry at the University of Oxford and president of our Chemistry Biology Interface Division Council, explains the importance of the work. He says: "This technology is having a major impact in genomics and epigenetics, areas that are transforming our understanding of fundamental biology and diseases such as cancer. It also promises to bring us closer to personalised medicine whereby therapies can be designed for individual patients. Professor Balasubramanian’s technology, now owned by Illumina, is a billion dollar industry employing hundreds of scientists worldwide."
Other members of Cambridge University to be recognised include head of the department of chemistry Professor John Pyle FRSC FRS and Professor Ottoline Leyser, director of the Sainsbury Laboratory.
Professor Pyle was made CBE for services to atmospheric chemistry and environmental science. Steven Lee, Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge says: "This is absolutely fantastic news: well-deserved and continuing recognition of both the scientific quality and far-reaching importance of Professor Pyle’s research.
"It is only by physical scientists coming together to collaborate on the world’s most important problems, such as the work in John Pyle’s lab – the building of computational models to help better understand climate change – that real change can be achieved. I believe I speak for the whole chemistry department at Cambridge when I say congratulations on this great achievement!"
Professor Leyser was made a dame in recognition of her services to plant science and her work in equality and diversity within science, including her time as chair of the Athena Forum.
Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys FRSC, who invented the technique of genetic fingerprinting in 1984, was appointed a Companion of Honour, a distinction only 65 people can hold at the same time. The special award is granted to those who have made a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine, or government lasting over a long period of time. Sir Alec, who was closely involved in our past policy activities on crime reduction, is recognised for his contribution to medical research and society.
Sheila Hardwick, senior scientific officer at the Home Office Centre for Applied Science and Technology who also contributed greatly to our crime reduction policy activities, was appointed OBE for services to forensic science.
Television presenter Maggie Philbin, one of our 175 faces of chemistry, was made OBE for her work inspiring young people’s interest in science, engineering and technology. She was a presenter on the iconic BBC science show Tomorrow’s World for eight years and has also featured on Bang Goes The Theory. She co-founded the TeenTech organisation in 2008, which holds events that introduce school chidren to technical and creative careers.
A number of our members were recognised for their contributions to national security. Sharon Broome CSci CChem FRSC, principal forensic investigator at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, was made OBE for services to defence, and Dr Hilary Bollan CSci CChem FRSC, senior scientific officer at the Ministry of Defence, was made MBE for services to submarine safety and the Royal Navy. Professor Vernon Gibson, former chief scientific advisor to the Ministry of Defence, was made Companion of the Order of the Bath for his services to the defence sector.
Chairman of Cancer Research UK, Michael Pragnell, was made CBE for services to cancer research and Dr Bernard Bulkin CChem FRSC, who sits on the advisory board of our Energy & Environmental Science journal, was appointed OBE for services to the energy industry. Professor Iain Baikie, chief executive officer at KP Technology was made MBE for services to the promotion of science education in Caithness.