Imperial College London

Honorary degrees awarded to Browne, Venter and Rausing at Imperial's Commemoration Day


Success of nearly 2,000 undergraduates celebrated - <em>News Release</em>

For immediate use
Wednesday 24 October 2007

Lord BrowneA world-leading researcher in genomics, a former CEO of BP and an academic philanthropist are all recognised today at Imperial College London’s Commemoration Day ceremonies.

Held in the Royal Albert Hall, the ceremonies celebrate the graduation of over 2,000 undergraduates. Honorary Imperial doctorates will be awarded to The Rt Hon. Lord Browne, former Group Chief Executive Officer of BP, Dr Lisbet Rausing, Senior Research Fellow in the College’s Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, and Dr J. Craig Venter, leading scientist in the field of genomic research.

These Commemoration Day ceremonies are the first Imperial celebrates as an independent institution, following its withdrawal Dr Rausingfrom the University of London in July this year. The College received its independence when Her Majesty The Queen bestowed upon it a new Royal Charter, during a visit which celebrated the Centenary of Imperial’s founding in 1907.

Sir Richard Sykes , Imperial’s Rector, congratulated the graduands and called on them to be pioneers of science, "You are the best advocates for it, and, while science is still viewed with distrust in some quarters, we need you to go out there and be champions for science."

He addressed the new honorary graduands and said: "Lord Browne is a real cheerleader for the good that science can do, having made huge efforts to position BP as a leader in developing greener and more sustainable energy during his time as Chief Executive."

Dr VenterHe added: "Craig Venter and Lisbet Rausing have both made huge efforts to advance science, Dr Venter as a scientist of great imagination and Dr Rausing as both a researcher here at Imperial and as a generous philanthropist."

Honorary degrees are awarded to people who are of 'conspicuous merit, who are outstanding in their field or who have given exceptional service to the university.'

On Friday 30 November, Imperial College London will also be holding a special graduation ceremony in Singapore to celebrate the College’s relationship with Asia and its Centenary year. It will be the first time that an Imperial graduation ceremony has been held outside the UK. The College is currently home to around 2,500 students from countries across Asia.

For further information please contact:

Naomi Weston
Press Office, Imperial College London
Tel: 020 7594 6704

Notes to editors:

The Rt Hon. Lord Browne of Madingley

The Rt Hon. Lord Browne of Madingley joined BP as a university apprentice in 1966 and, in the course of a 40-year career, went on to become Managing Director in 1991. He was Group Chief Executive Officer from 1995 until his retirement in May this year. As CEO, he sought to re-establish BP as a ‘green’ energy company, finding ways to meet current needs without excessive harm to the environment, while developing more sustainable sources of future energy.

Lord Browne holds a degree in physics from St John’s College, Cambridge, and a Master’s degree in business from Stanford University, California. In 1998, he was knighted and in 2001 made a life peer. He was awarded the Prince Philip Medal by the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1999 for his outstanding contribution to the field of engineering and became President of the Academy in July 2006. Also in that year, he was also appointed President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Dr Lisbet Rausing

Dr Lisbet Rausing is one of the most important academic philanthropists in the UK. She is currently a Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College’s Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine.

Dr Rausing was educated at the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard University, where she also taught for eight years. She has written two books – Linnaeus: Nature and Nation and Corrour: A History of a Sporting Estate.

Dr Rausing founded the Arcadia Trust in 2001. To date, the Trust has made grant commitments of around £37 million, reflecting Dr Rausing’s and her husband Peter Baldwin’s wish to encourage advanced research and to preserve fundamental knowledge, and natural, linguistic and historical treasures for future generations.

Dr J. Craig Venter

Dr J. Craig Venter is considered one of the leading scientists of the twenty-first century for his trail-blazing genomic research. He is founder and President of the J. Craig Venter Institute, dedicated to human, microbial, plant and environmental genomic research, the exploration of social and ethical issues in genomics and to seeking alternative energy solutions through genomics.

Dr Venter completed a tour of duty as a Navy Corpsman in Vietnam before studying for a Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and PhD in physiology and pharmacology at the University of California. On graduation, he was appointed Professor at the State University of New York and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. In 1984, he moved to the National Institutes of Health campus where he developed expressed sequence tags or ESTs, a revolutionary new strategy for rapid gene discovery. In 1992, Dr Venter founded the Institute for Genomic Research, where in 1995 his team decoded the genome of the first free-living organism, the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae.

In 1998, Dr Venter founded Celera Genomics to sequence the human genome using new tools and techniques. This work culminated in the 2001 publication of the human genome in the journal Science. After leaving Celera he and his team at the Venter Institute have continued to break new ground in genomics, having recently published important papers on environmental genomics, synthetic genomics and a new diploid human genome sequence.

About Imperial College London

Rated as the world's ninth best university in the 2006 Times Higher Education Supplement University Rankings, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 11,500 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and management and delivers practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.

With 66 Fellows of the Royal Society among our current academic staff and distinguished past members of the College including 14 Nobel Laureates and two Fields Medallists, Imperial's contribution to society has been immense.

Inventions and innovations include the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of our research for the benefit of all continues today with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to tackle climate change and mathematical modelling to predict and control the spread of infectious diseases.

The College's 100 years of l iving science will be celebrated throughout 2007 with a range of events to mark t he Centenary of the signing of Imperial's founding charter on 8 July 1907

Press office

Press Office
Communications and Public Affairs

Click to expand or contract

Contact details