Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths


Sir Alan Rushton Battersby »   Sir Hans Leo Kornberg »   Sir Michael Atiyah »   Professor David Gordon Wilson »   André Lévy-Lang »   Tim O’Riordan »   Sir Colin Blakemore »   Edgar Anderson »   Professor Christopher Kendall »   Sir David Wallace »   Michael Wise »   David Broadhurst »   James Bathurst »   Anthony Long »   Professor Mark Mayer »   Dr Nigel Croft »   Andrew Farmer »  

 

Sir Alan Rushton Battersby (CFF 1950-52) FRS (4 March 1925 – 10 February 2018) was born in Leigh in Lancashire in 1925 and developed a fascination for chemistry while at school. At sixteen he joined the local electrical cable company to support the war effort while, in his spare time, studying by correspondence course combined with blitz-blighted journeys on Saturdays to Salford Technical College to do lab work. He won a scholarship to Manchester University where he became interested in how nature builds complex molecules. His academic career involved appointments at the Universities of St Andrews, Bristol and Liverpool until, in 1969, he moved to a professorship at the University of Cambridge where he stayed for the rest of his career. Whilst at St Andrews he was awarded a Commonwealth Fund Fellowship and studied at the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research in New York, and the University of Illinois. The three months of summer travel, then a required part of the fellowship, gave Sir Alan and his wife Margaret a life-long fondness of the States. Sir Alan was knighted in 1992 and has won numerous awards including the Copley Medal of the Royal Society in 2000 “in recognition of his pioneering work in elucidating the detailed biosynthetic pathways to all the major families of plant alkaloids. His approach, which stands as a paradigm for future biosynthetic studies on complex molecules, combines isolation work, structure determination, synthesis, isotopic labelling and spectroscopy, especially advanced NMR, as well as genetics and molecular biology. This spectacular research revealed the entire pathway to vitamin B12.”
Last updated: 18th November 2019

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Sir Hans Leo Kornberg (CFF 1953-55) FRS arrived in Britain in 1939, aged 11, a refugee from Nazi Germany. After completing a PhD (Biochemistry) at the University of Sheffield, his Commonwealth Fund Fellowship took him to Yale and the Public Health Research Institute, NY,  studying enzymology. At Sheffield, Kornberg made his first of many discoveries; using radioactive carbon isotopes he discovered the breakdown of urea in the gut was by bacterial action. He funded himself as a lab tech and cook, the latter relevant to the fellowship requirement to write on some aspect of American life during 3 month’s travel. Kornberg chose American regional cooking, and ate his way across 30 states, recalling “It was one of the most enjoyable periods of my life”. He returned to Oxford to work with his mentor, who had spotted talent in the 17 yr old lab technician, Nobel prize winner Sir Hans Krebs. As Professor of Biochemistry at Leicester and then Cambridge, he contributed considerably to the rapid development of the science of biochemistry, elected the first president of the Biochemical Society in 1990. He chaired the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution; the Advisory Committee on Genetic Modification; the Science Board of the Science Research council and was Governor of the Welcome Trust.  As president of the British Academy of Science he campaigned to reverse the government’s cuts to scientific research. On retiring from Cambridge, 1995, he moved to the University of Boston, USA.  Elected FRS in 1965, Kornberg was knighted in 1978.
Last updated: 31st March 2020

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Sir Michael Atiyah (CFF 1955-56) OM, FRS, FRSE, FMedsci, FAA, FREng studied at Princeton, Institute of Advanced Study, for his fellowship to which he later returned as Professor for three years (69-72). His academic career started in Cambridge (student and early academia), transferring to Oxford for more senior and leadership roles. In 1990 Michael returned to Cambridge to create and direct the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences (90-96) and is now at the University of Edinburgh, where he has been Honorary Professor since 1997. Collaboration with others, many of whom he met in his fellowship year at Princeton, has been key to his work; with Hirzebruch he laid the foundation of topological K-theory and the Atiyah-Singer index theorem is widely used in counting the number of independent solutions to differential equations. Later work was inspired by theoretical physics leading to improvements in quantum field theory. Used to travel from an early age, born in London to Lebanese and Scottish parents, educated in Sudan, Cairo, Alexandria, and Manchester, he has travelled extensively. He has been elected to Royal Society equivalent organisations in many countries including America, Sweden, Ireland, Australia, India and Russia. Awarded over 30 Honorary degrees, Michael has also won numerous awards for his work, including the Fields medal in 1966 (for his work in developing K theory) and the Abel prize, jointly with Singer in 2004. Michael held leadership roles in many organisations, including being President of the London Mathematical Society (74-76), President of the Royal Society (90-95), Master of Trinity College (90-97) and Chancellor of the University of Leicester (95-05). An impressive educator Michael is responsible for inspiring generations of young mathematicians, many becoming prize winners in their own right. Michael was destined to be a mathematician and quotes “I started out by changing local currency into foreign currency everywhere I travelled as a child and ended up making money. That’s when my father realised that I would be a mathematician some day.” Michael’s wife Lily, from Edinburgh, was with him from his CFF until she passed away at the age of 90 in March 2018. They had 3 sons. (Sir Michael wrote this in May 2018. He passed away in 2019)
Last updated: 30th May 2018

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Professor David Gordon Wilson ((CFF 1955-57)) is emeritus professor of mechanical engineering at MIT and the author of recently published Born, Blessed & Blitzed in Britain, but Battered by M.I.T. The book reflects on an adventure filled life and outlines his battles with university bureaucracy, from his time as a young engineer who refused to alter test results and later as he called out senior academics for plagiarism. Born and educated in Warwickshire, England, Dave first crossed the Atlantic in 1953, working his way to Canada in the engine room of a cargo boat. In 1955 he was awarded a post-doctoral Commonwealth-Fund fellowship for study and research at MIT and Harvard. After working in the turbine industry in Britain he taught for two years in Nigeria and worked briefly with the VSO (the British precursor of the Peace Corps) in the Cameroons. Before coming to MIT he was technical director and vice president of NREC. At MIT, Dave has taught engineering design, including turbo-machinery design, and applied thermodynamics, and supervised research into power-and-propulsion topics and design areas. His turbine-design text was bought by GE for its jet-engine staff. Since retiring in 1994 he has been interim head of the Office of Minority Education and faculty director of the MITES program, and co-founded Wilson TurboPower in 2001. Dave, a keen hiker and bicyclist, who designed a bicycle that won world speed records, has authored/co-authored 9 books.
Last updated: 19th January 2019

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André Lévy-Lang (HF 1963 - 65) was invited with other young Europeans to attend a month long summer seminar, the ‘Salzburg Seminar in American Studies’, some time after graduating from Ecole Polytechnique in 1958. This probably led in 1963 to the Harkness Foundation offering him a fellowship . As he had always been interested in Finance and Economics, he and his wife took this opportunity, and he applied to Stanford to work on a PhD in these fields. After two wonderful years on campus, and back in France after completing his thesis, Andre discovered that his French and American degrees did not open the doors of the French financial establishment of the sixties, so he went back to an engineering career with Schlumberger. In 1974, the right door opened at last and he joined Compagnie Bancaire, a maverick banking group which pioneered modern retail finance in France. He became its CEO in 1982, then in 1990 the CEO of its major shareholder, Banque Paribas, an investment bank. In 1999, they were acquired by BNP to create BNPParibas, still the leading bank in Europe, and he retired.  Andre’s third career, since 2000, has been as an advisor or mentor to various boards or executives, a teacher in Finance at Dauphine University and the founder and chairman of a research network, the Institut Louis Bachelier,  which channels mostly private funds to over 40 research projects in Finance, Economics, Demography, Energy, Climate and Data, in the main French universities and graduate schools.
Last updated: 19th January 2021

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Tim O’Riordan (HF 1963 - 65) OBE DL FBA graduated in Geography from his home town University of Edinburgh. His undergraduate research explored why the small burns of East Lothian dried up every summer removing all of the richly diverse invertebrates. This extermination was due to excessive abstraction for the irrigation of potatoes, unimpeded by the lack of any regulation or pricing. He received a MS in water resources management from Cornell, leaving sufficient time to drive to Berkeley to read natural resources management. Tim returned to Kings College Cambridge where he divided his time between studying the governance of the Norfolk Broads for his PhD and playing classical double bass. He spent seven years in Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and returned to the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia. He served on the Broads Authority for 20 years, sat on the Dow Chemical Sustainability Board, advised Asda and Eastern Electricity, and was a faculty member of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. Tim received the awards of Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Norfolk, a Fellowship of the British Academy, and an OBE. He is currently President of CPRE Norfolk and the Norfolk Association of Local Councils where he is actively involved with the localisation of sustainability in the County.
Last updated: 19th January 2021

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Sir Colin Blakemore (HF 1965-67) , after studying medical sciences at Cambridge, won a Harkness Fellowship to go to the University of California at Berkeley, where he worked with Horace Barlow, a leading British neurophysiologist. What was meant to be a single year turned into just over 2 years and a PhD; and it changed the direction of Colin’s career. He gave up clinical medicine and returned to teach at Cambridge. He has worked on many aspects of vision and brain development, and was one of the first to demonstrate the importance of ‘plasticity’ in the brain. In 1979, he moved to the Waynflete Chair of Physiology in Oxford, where he also directed the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience. From 2003-7 he was Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council, and in 2012 he moved to a personal Professorship in the School of Advanced Study, University of London, where he collaborates with art historians and artists, including David Hockney and Patrick Hughes, in research on visual perception. He has 10 honorary degrees and is a member of 12 academies, including the Royal Society, the Academy of Medical Sciences and Academia Europaea. In 2014 he was knighted for service to scientific research, policy and outreach. He was the youngest person to give the BBC Reith Lectures. He has given the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, he has made nearly 1,000 broadcasts (including a 13-part series for BBC television), and he writes for national and international media. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Blakemore
Last updated: 25th May 2018

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Edgar Anderson (HF 1966-68) is a Scot (B.Sc., Ph.D., D.Sc., Glasgow University) who was a Salters’ Fellow at the University of Strasbourg when he applied for a Harkness Fellowship. He worked at the Gates and Crellin Laboratories of Chemistry at California Institute of Technology, ‘CalTech’, Pasadena, Southern California on ‘The Conformational Dynamics of Simple Organic Molecules using NMR Spectroscopy’. He continued in this same broad field on his return to Britain as successively, a Ramsay Fellow, a Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader and finally Professor of Organic Chemistry at University College London. He retired in 2005 having published over 120 papers in leading Chemical Journals, and has a Hirsch Index of 32. He was the Crabtree Orator in 2007 and President of the Crabtree Foundation in 2017-8. He met Eleanor Colwell, a Canadian on a short visit to Caltech, towards the end of his time there. They were married in 1970 and have lived in the same house in Rickmansworth since that time. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.
Last updated: 25th May 2018

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Professor Christopher Kendall (HF 1966 - 68) studied in Austin, Texas.  Some 400 applied for Harkness Fellowships that year, and he was among the 40 who were selected for interviews for 25 Fellowships. Knowing the names of the committee he identified their professions and prepared for the interview by guessing at the style of questions he might be asked. He recalls that the committee faced him centred around the chairman across a long oak table. Chris was on an isolated single chair opposite, and on the table in front of him was a slip of paper with the names of those facing him. When questioned, his fingers and eyes on the paper, he knew the questioner, and framed his answers accordingly. The interview became a competition among some of the committee members to ask the best questions. His tactics, recognized by the committee,  led them to enjoy challenging him. For example one of them proposed that as a geologist he might prefer a map on his wall but he replied, “No, I would prefer a Goya”. The committee then spent time discussing a current exhibition of Goya. He was accepted as a Fellow and spent his two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship at UT Texas working with Prof. Folk on the Geology of West Texas. For details of the remainder of his eclectic career in academia and the oil industry as a geologist; see here.
Last updated: 20th September 2021

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Sir David Wallace (HF 1970-72) CBE FRS FREng FRSE Following undergraduate and postgraduate study at the University of Edinburgh, David continued his research in theoretical physics at Princeton University. In 1972 he was appointed lecturer in the Physics Department at the University of Southampton. In 1979 he returned to the University of Edinburgh as Tait Professor of Mathematical Physics, and Director of Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre. He was Vice-Chancellor at Loughborough University for 12 years, from 1994, and moved to Cambridge in 2006, as NM Rothschild & Sons Professor of Mathematical Sciences & Director of the Isaac Newton Institute to 2011, and as Master of Churchill College to 2014, retiring then to Scotland. He has held many honorary positions in Academies and Learned Societies, and on Trusts and Foundations, and served as a non-executive director in a number of companies. He is currently a member of Court (the Governing Body) of the University of St Andrews, a trustee of the Bill McLaren Foundation and chairs the Board of the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences. He was awarded a CBE for services to parallel computing in 1996, and knighted in 2004 for services to UK science, technology and engineering. In 1995 he ran the London Marathon, raising £8000 for Sports Aid Foundation and Loughborough Sports Scholarships. His time of just under four hours is surely the slowest ​ever in a Loughborough vest. He retired to Scotland in 2014 with his wife Elizabeth. They have one daughter, Sara. https://www.chu.cam.ac.uk/people/view/david-wallace/
Last updated: 25th May 2018

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Michael Wise (HF 1970 - 72) , first dentist to be awarded the Fellowship, obtained an M.Sc.D. in Fixed and Removable Prosthodontics at Indiana University. After a period in academia, he developed his own team in private practice to assess and measure the outcomes of an integrated approach to complex dental restorative treatment.  Michael was a Visiting Professor at The Eastman Dental Institute, UCL, GDC recognised as a Specialist in Restorative Dentistry and in Oral Surgery, a Fellow of The Royal College of Surgeons, an invited member of The American Academy of Restorative Dentistry and The American College of Dentists, and a past President of The American Dental Society of Europe. In 1977 he started the first one day a month literature based courses, in his practice for up to 20 dentists, a model now standard in dentistry. At retirement he was leading five groups, two had been with him for over 30 years. Lecturing nationally and internationally, Michael  is the author of many publications including a textbook in 1995  “Failure in the Restored Dentition : Management and Treatment”; recognized by the BDA library in its 100th year as one of the most influential books in dentistry. As a recipient of a kidney transplant in 2010 (after sepsis) he became active in projects to improve the treatment of patients with acute kidney injury. In 2017 he published “On The Toss of a Coin“ about his experiences of critical illness.  Married to Priscilla, a psychotherapist, for 52 years, they have three sons and five grandchildren.
Last updated: 14th March 2021

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David Broadhurst (HF 1971-73) had the great fortune to be a Harkness fellow at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center when physicists were discovering the fundamental theories of the strong and weak interactions of quarks and leptons. This was followed by a Royal Society fellowship at CERN in Geneva and a fellowship at Balliol College, Oxford. David’s Harkness fellowship provided the opportunity to visit more than 40 of the United States and three quarters of its national parks. He met Margaret in Fern Canyon, Humboldt County, California and they wed in Coventry in 1975, by which time David was intensively engaged in teaching physics and mathematics to students of the Open University. He continued to combine research and teaching until his retirement from a readership in 2013, since when he has enjoyed frequent invitations to conferences and workshops on quantum field theory and the exquisite mathematics that it entails. He continues to be amazed by “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences” and lives in hope of seeing an eventual proof of the Broadhurst-Kreimer conjecture on multiple zeta values. A formula discovered by David was inscribed on the bronze statue awarded to Andrew Wiles by the Clay Mathematical Institute to celebrate the proof of Fermat’s last theorem. David served for more than 30 years as a governor of a primary school that seeks to combine sound education with human values. When in need of solace he turns to Bach and to his grandchildren.
Last updated: 25th October 2018

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James Bathurst (HF 1977-79) was encouraged to apply for a fellowship by a previous HF while a PhD student.  The fellowship allowed him to undertake post-doctoral research on mountain river hydraulics at Colorado State University (CSU), Fort Collins. An immediate outcome of his fellowship was the co-founding, together with colleagues from CSU and the UK, of what has become an internationally recognized programme of workshops on Gravel-bed Rivers that have been held every five years since 1980. In 1979 James joined the then Natural Environment Research Council’s Institute of Hydrology at Wallingford, Oxfordshire, (now the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) and became part of a European collaboration to develop an advanced river catchment model (the Système Hydrologique Européen) for use in predicting the impacts of climate and land use change. James also continued his rivers research through a collaboration with the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland.  He was seconded to a research unit at Newcastle University in 1985, and subsequently joined the University as a staff member in 1992.  While there, he carried out technology transfer projects for the catchment model in India and Chile and applications to Mediterranean desertification, landslide hazard and forest impacts on floods in Latin America.  James acquired his knowledge of landslides during a Churchill Fellowship visit to New Zealand in 1990. Most recently he has worked with colleagues in Chile on the impact of forests on floods, an occupation he continues following his retirement from Newcastle University in 2020 as Reader in Erosion and Sediment Transport.
Last updated: 14th March 2021

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Anthony Long (HF 1977-79)) studied how controversial UK land use policy conflicts at that time, particularly new motorways, might be handled differently in federal government systems. Catapulted from the planning department in the remote Colne Town Hall on the edge of the Pennines to the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC, he joined the Congressional Fellowship Programme of the American Political Science Association working first for Senator John Culver (D-Iowa) and then Representative Les AuCoin (D-Oregon).  In his second year, he joined AuCoin’s successful 1978 electoral campaign in Oregon, followed by six months assisting an unusual majority coalition in the State Legislature of New Mexico.  Returning to the UK, he joined the Council for the Protection of Rural England working on many nationally significant land use planning controversies. After a short research tenure in Paris in 1986, Anthony joined the staff of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in the UK. In 1989 he established and led a dedicated WWF policy office in Brussels to influence EU environmental policy and legislation, a role he continued to undertake until his retirement in 2015 He has published several articles on environmental lobbying and was visiting professor at the College of Europe in Bruges.  He maintained close links with the US through his 10-year membership of the Sustainability Advisory Council of the Dow Chemical Company in Michigan. Continuing to reside in Brussels, Anthony advises local, national and international non-governmental and advocacy organisations, occasionally teaches environmental politics and is a Trustee of the Andrew Lees Trust-UK.
Last updated: 8th June 2020

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Professor Mark Mayer (HF 1980-82) chose a Fellowship which allowed him to train in laboratories in the US that were using techniques in ion channel biophysics not widely available in the UK. Most importantly, the Fellowship gave him the freedom to choose the laboratories that hosted him and to move between labs as his experience grew. As a result, he acquired new skills, leading to a series of studies that he pursued for the rest of his career and to his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society. Mark’s career focused on analysis of excitatory neurotransmitter receptors in the brain, initially using electrophysiological techniques, with which he discovered that NMDA receptors were calcium permeable ion channels, flux through which varied with membrane potential due to block by extracellular Magnesium. This mechanism forms a coincidence detector that acts as a gate triggering synaptic plasticity. Later he used X-ray diffraction and cryo-electron microscopy to study the structure of glutamate receptors, establishing mechanisms for subtype selective binding of ligands, allosteric modulation, and how desensitization occurs. This work furthers our understanding of a wide range of neurological disorders. Finding limited biomedical research funding opportunities in the UK on his return to London in 1982 led to Mark joining the brain drain and moving to the NIH.  Subsequent emergence of the Wellcome Trust changed this, but by then he felt it was too disruptive to return home. Today, the UK is a vibrant place for biomedical research, and Mark often visits for academic collaborations.
Last updated: 29th October 2019

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Dr Nigel Croft (HF 1981-82) is a world authority on quality management. After receiving his PhD in metallurgy from Sheffield University, Nigel spent his Harkness Fellowship conducting post-doctoral research at UC Berkeley, marking the beginning of his transformation from a “South Yorkshire lad” to a “Citizen of the world”. After completing his fellowship, he married Naila Diniz (also a PhD metallurgist) and emigrated to Brazil, becoming a Brazilian citizen in 1999. Over the years, Nigel has been actively involved in a range of global quality and sustainability initiatives, and from 2010 to 2018 he chaired the ISO technical subcommittee responsible for the ISO 9001 quality management standard. He has served as non-executive board member of a number of organizations around the world, including the Chartered Quality Institute (London), Social Accountability Accreditation Services (New York), and Fairtrade International’s certification body (FLOCERT) in Bonn. He is a consultant for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and Adjunct Professor of Quality Management at the University of Northern Malaysia. Nigel’s links with the US and the UK continue to be strong – in 2017 he was awarded the American Society for Quality’s Freund-Marquardt medal, “For his passion, dedication and leadership in the application of quality management” and in 2018 an Honorary (“Lifetime Achievement”) Award from the Chartered Quality Institute  
Last updated: 18th April 2019

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Andrew Farmer (HF 1991 - 92) was a full-time GP in Thame for 17 years when he became one of the first GPs to be awarded a Harkness Fellowship. Based at Duke University, he studied the development of clinical guidelines in the US, looking at how they were being used to guide clinical practice and policy, based on best evidence. Back home, Andrew contributed to initiatives to develop primary care research, including leading his practice to gain the first RCGP’s Research Practice award. After completing a higher degree, in 2001 he joined Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences; he has been Professor of General Practice since 2010. He is now Director of the NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme, having been Chair of its General Funding Committee (2016 to 2020),  and an NIHR Senior Investigator. HTA is NIHR’s largest research funding programme, covering clinical trials and research assessing drugs, tests, therapies and other treatments for potential benefit to patients and the NHS.  He has held a number of research management roles within NIHR, has been a member of NICE guideline development groups, a co-lead for the Digital Health and Technology Theme for the Oxford NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and a member of NIHR Doctoral Training Award Funding Panels. Championing research that is directly relevant to the NHS and involving public and patients, Andrew’s research focuses on improving the health and wellbeing of people with long-term health conditions, especially diabetes. He works as a GP at St Bartholomew’s Medical Centre, Oxford.  
Last updated: 19th January 2021

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