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University of York honours 10

Posted on 2 July 2004

The University confers honorary degrees each year on people who have made a significant contribution to society.

Distinguished figures from many walks of life, including the Chief Medical Officer for England, the Nobel prize winner Professor Amartya Kumar Sen, and the international clarinettist and conductor Alan Hacker, receive honorary doctorates at the University of York next week. (7th, 8th and 9th July). Honorary graduates are selected from nominations by members of the University and very often have links with departments or are alumni.

Those receiving honorary degrees are:

Simon Best

Simon Best is Chief Executive of Ardana Bioscience Ltd, a speciality pharmaceutical firm with a focus on reproductive health. He graduated in Music from York in 1977 and soon afterwards became a pop music talent-spotter and started a record label. His business skills led him into the field of biotechnology and he joined ICI in the United States and later the Roslin Institute in Scotland. Ardana was formed to commercialise research developed by the Medical Research Council's Human Reproductive Sciences Unit in Edinburgh.

Professor Sir Liam Donaldson

In a career spanning 30 years, Sir Liam Donaldson has worked in all sectors of health care from hospital medicine and general practice to public health, academic medicine, health service management and central government. Since becoming Chief Medical Officer for England (the Government's senior medical advisor) in 1998, his work has been in the spotlight over issues such as the retention of human organs and the MMR vaccine. Sir Liam has published several major reports in the medical and health field and is also a distinguished academic.

Professor Uta Frith and Professor Chris Frith

Professors Uta and Chris Frith have made an outstanding contribution to Psychology both individually and together. Professor Uta Frith is best known for her research on autism spectrum disorders. Her book, Autism, Explaining the Enigma (1989) has been translated into many different languages. She was one of the initiators of the study of Asperger's Syndrome in the UK and her work on reading development, spelling and dyslexia has been highly influential. She is Deputy Director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London.

Chris Frith, Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychology at the Institute of Neurology, University College London, pioneered the development of functional brain imaging as an important technique in contemporary neuroscience. His research team has mapped the brain areas involved in reading, naming, memory, face recognition and theory of mind, and, with his wife Uta, he has made important discoveries regarding the basic mechanisms that are impaired in dyslexia and autism. His early monograph, the Cognitive Neuropsychology of Schizophrenia, is a classic text and recently he has published a popular science book on the same topic.

Alan Hacker OBE

During his long career, the clarinettist Alan Hacker has made wide-ranging contributions to music. At 19 he joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra and just two years later was appointed Professor at the Royal Academy of Music. As well as being a champion of new music, Alan Hacker has pioneered the performance of the classics on original instruments. From 1976 to 1987 he was a member of the University's Department of Music and founded York's Classical Orchestra. Now he works mostly as a conductor of concert and opera orchestras in venues all over the world.

Professor Dame Julia Higgins CBE

Professor Dame Julia Higgins CBE is Professor of Polymer Science at Imperial College, Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and a vice-president of the Royal Society. Her current research involves the study of the behaviour of complex materials, particularly polymers, in terms of their molecular structure, organisation and motion. Chair of the Athena Project, Professor Higgins has been prominent in the campaign to encourage women to enter careers in science and engineering.

Dr Melanie Georgina Lee

Dr Melanie Georgina Lee, a York graduate in Biology, is Research and Development Director for the FTSE top 100 biotech company Celltech. As a post-doctoral researcher for Professor Paul Nurse, who in 2001 shared the Nobel Prize for his work in elucidating the cell cycle, she showed that the mechanism controlling the cell cycle was the same in all cells of higher organisms from yeast to humans. She moved to the former Glaxo Group Research as a senior biologist, then to Celltech where she created a unified and focused research organisation from three separate groups in two different countries.

Professor Amartya Kumar Sen

Professor Amartya Kumar Sen is a Nobel prize winner, former Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Lamont University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University. A Fellow of the British Academy, he is a distinguished economist whose work has had a huge impact in the international arena, particularly in dealing with the problems of the poor and the hungry, taking a holistic approach to economic development, poverty and the role of women.

Professor Vincenzo Visco

Professor Vincenzo Visco gained an MSc in economics at the University of York, returning to his home country of Italy to become an MP and subsequently Minister of Finance. An academic as well as a politician, the theme of his teaching, research and political life has been the need to spread the tax burden efficiently and fairly and he has crusaded determinedly against tax evasion and for effective social security systems. He is still a front bench MP and continues his teaching.

Sir Martin Wood

Sir Martin Wood originally trained as a mining engineer. Employed at Oxford University's Clarendon laboratory, he set up Oxford Instruments Ltd in 1959 with his wife Audrey. They developed and marketed high magnetic field equipment, moving into the rapidly expanding area of superconductivity in 1961.The firm now employs around 2,000 people with annual sales in excess of £200 million. Sir Martin is also involved in a wide range of philanthropic and environmental projects including Farm Africa of which he is President.

Degree Day 2004

Ceremony Time Departments graduating Honorary Graduands

Ceremony 1

7 July

  • Computer Science
  • Electronics
  • Physics
  • Sir Martin Wood, Founder, Oxford Instruments Group Ltd

Ceremony 2

7 July

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Medieval Studies
  • Women's Studies

Ceremony 3

8 July

  • Archaeology
  • Economics
  • Language & Linguistic Science
  • Philosophy
  • Professor Vincenzo Visco, Member of Parliament (Italy), Former Italian Economic Minister

Ceremony 4

8 July

  • Educational Studies
  • Environment
  • Music
  • Sociology
  • Social Policy and Social Work
  • Mr Simon Best, Chief Executive Officer, Ardana Bioscience Ltd
  • Mr Alan Hacker OBE, FRAM, Musician and former member of the Music Department

Ceremony 5

8 July

  • Mathematics
  • Politics
  • School of Politics, Economics and Philosophy
  • Professor Amartya Kumar Sen, Lamont University Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Department of Economics, Harvard University

Ceremony 6

9 July

  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Dr Melanie G Lee, Research and Development Director, Celltech plc
  • Dame Julie Higgins, DBE, FRS, FREng, Chair of the EPSRC

Ceremony 7

9 July

  • Business Management
  • Health Sciences
  • History of Art
  • Management Studies
  • Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health

Ceremony 8

9 July

  • English
  • Psychology
  • Professor Uta Frith, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London
  • Professor Chris Frith, Institiute of Neurology, University College London


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