An academic leader who has championed diversity at Imperial and a senior technician have both been recognised in the Queen's birthday honours list.
Professor Tom Welton, Dean of Imperial’s Faculty of Natural Sciences receives an OBE for his services to diversity in education, while Paul Brown, Mechanical Instrumentation Workshop Manager, has been awarded an MBE for services to higher education.
Imperial’s Provost, Professor James Stirling, paid tribute to the work of both staff members:
“I’m delighted for Tom and Paul – they are both outstanding pillars of Imperial’s community, whose work behind the scenes is absolutely crucial to our academic mission and, in particular, to improving the support for our staff.
“The College has made great strides in recent times towards gender equality and diversity at all levels, and that is in no small part down to the efforts of people like Tom, who has shown exceptional leadership.
“Meanwhile, Imperial’s technical staff play an essential role in supporting both teaching and research, and Paul has been at the forefront of ensuring this capability is maintained and enhanced.”
Platform for change
Professor Tom Welton joined Imperial’s Chemistry Department in 1993 as Lloyds of London Tercentenary Fellow, rising to Senior Lecturer in 2000 before being promoted to Professor in 2004. Tom took on the role of Exams Officer, then Director of Undergraduate Studies before going on to lead the Department from 2007 to 2014. He became Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences in January 2015.
The recognition is all the more special because it acknowledges diversity
– Professor Tom Welton
As Head of the Department of Chemistry, Tom instituted a series of changes, perhaps most notably the initiatives led by Dr Tricia Hunt that gained the Department Imperial’s first ever gold Athena SWAN award for promoting gender equality – which was also among the first gold to be awarded to any university department.
Upon learning of his award, Professor Welton commented: “I’m chuffed to bits, I didn’t expect it at all. The recognition is all the more special because it acknowledges diversity. When I was a student in the ‘80s those of us talking about ways to tackle sexism, racism, discrimination of all kinds, were branded the ‘loony left’ - now we’re getting royal honours. That kind of shift in society is thanks to the hard work of many, many people, including colleagues here, to deliver better workplace practices. The award is an honour for me, but it’s testimony to them.”
Paul Brown has been a technician at Imperial for 27 years and also served as a member of Imperial’s Court between 2008 and 2016. He now leads a team of technicians to support the world-class research and education in the Department of Physics.
He is also involved in the training and development of workshop technicians across Imperial’s faculties of Natural Sciences and Engineering. In 2011, Paul helped to establish and implement a new apprenticeship scheme to recruit and train technicians – rotating them across Imperial’s departments and also sending them for specialist training at Kingston College.
On receiving news of his award, Paul said: “I am truly honoured and humbled to have been recognised through the award of an MBE. When I first saw the letter, my first thoughts were that I was being called for Jury services. It really was a complete surprise when I opened the envelope. In receiving this award I would like to acknowledge the team I work with in the Mechanical Instrumentation Workshop. I would also like to thank all those who have worked with me and supported me in various ways over the years.”
Professor Jordan Nash, Head of the Department of Physics, said:
“I’m delighted to hear that Paul has received this award. This is a wonderful recognition of the work Paul and his team do in helping the scientists in the department to produce complex components for a wide range of world leading experiments. He and his workshop team are also working enthusiastically to support our student projects.
“One of the outstanding contributions that Paul has personally made is his work on the apprenticeship scheme to help train and recruit a next generation of technicians and bring opportunity to the younger generation."
Several Imperial alumni were also recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours lists. Among them were three recipients of the OBE: Dr Nikesh Kotecha (PhD Chemistry 1992) for services to Entrepreneurship, Innovation in Pharmaceutical Services and Philanthropy; Dr Cheryll D Pitt (PhD Metallurgy and Materials Science 1979) for services to Aviation Safety; and Professor David R Sandbach (Chemistry 1975) for services to Science, Innovation and Skills.
Professor Charles Godfray (PhD Botany and Plant Technology 1982) received a Knighthood for services to Scientific Research and for Scientific Services to the Government, whilst Christopher Wormald (MBA 1999) was a recipient of the KCB for Public Service. Dr Michael P Loosemore (School of Medicine 1985) also received an MBE for services to Sports Medicine.
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