Imperial College London

Five top New Year's honours for Imperial staff


Helen Sharman speaking to camera

Helen Sharman

Space science pioneers and infectious disease specialists are among those recognised in the Queen's New Year Honours list.

Helen Sharman, Operations Manager for the Department of Chemistry and the first Briton in space, has been made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George for her outreach work, while Professor Michele Dougherty and Professor Christl Donnelly have both been awarded CBEs. Michael Levin, of the Department of Medicine, has been awarded an MBE. Professor Derek Bell, chair in acute medicine within the Faculty of Medicine, has been given an OBE.

Chemist Sharman said: “I am thrilled to be awarded with this honour, especially so because it recognises the science and technology outreach work I have done and therefore the importance of this type of activity.

I believe public debate on scientific issues is a vital part of a good democracy.

– Helen Sharman

Operations Manager, Department of Chemistry

“I am passionate about making science relevant and available and I believe public debate on scientific issues is a vital part of a good democracy. Ensuring students from a wide range of backgrounds continue to study science enhances the cross-fertilisation of ideas, business uptake and impact on society.”

She spent eight days orbiting the Earth in 1991 on a Soyuz spacecraft and speaks regularly about her space experiences. She was given an OBE in 1993. She is a Fellow of the Science Museum and a patron of Spacelink Learning Foundation, which develops science lesson plans for teachers and provides information for schools and club activities, as well as running an annual event for schools.

Professor Michele Dougherty in the lab

Professor Michele Dougherty

Professor Michele Dougherty, who takes over as head of the Department of Physics on 1 January 2018, has been given a CBE for services to UK Physical Sciences.

Professor Dougherty was the Principal Investigator for the Cassini mission’s magnetometer instrument, which was built and led by a team from the Department of Physics at Imperial.

The Cassini spacecraft, which was launched in 1997, spent 13 years orbiting Saturn and its environment before turning towards the planet and burning up in the atmosphere in September this year.

Professor Michele Dougherty said: “I am extremely honoured to receive a CBE for essentially doing my job, and was enabled by all my great colleagues and collaborators over the years.”

Professor Christl Donnelly

Professor Christl Donnelly

Professor Christl Donnelly, who was made a Fellow of the Royal Society last year, has been awarded her CBE for services to epidemiology and the control of infectious diseases.

The Professor of Statistical Epidemiology in the School of Public Health said: “I am thrilled to receive this honour. My research aims to make best use of data in order to improve our understanding of how infectious diseases spread in populations, and to predict how effective interventions will be. 

“My collaborative work would not have been possible without my outstanding colleagues at Imperial College London and elsewhere, including within the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB. 

“I’d also like to draw particular attention to fellow members of the WHO Ebola Response Team who worked so hard to inform the international emergency response during the West African Ebola epidemic.”   

Professor Michael Levin, who is Professor of Paediatrics and International Child Health, has been awarded an MBE for his services to infectious diseases, critical care and research in paediatrics.

Professor Michael Levin

Professor Michael Levin

He said: "I am deeply moved and honoured to have received this award.  Our research, to find new ways of treating and preventing new childhood infections, has been carried out by wonderful team of scientists and clinicians in the section for paediatrics (Department of Medicine) of Imperial College. I thank all my colleagues, both in Imperial College NHS Trust and Imperial College whose work has contributed to this recognition."

Professor Derek Bell, of Imperial's School of Public Health, has been awarded an OBE in his role as President of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh for services to unscheduled care and quality improvement.

The College's first Professor of Acute Medicine said: "This reward reflects significant support from our team at Imperial working closely with the NHS. Our philosophy has been to ensure optimal use of data combined with a systematic approach to working in the challenging and complex environment of health and care."


Professor Derek Bell

Professor Derek Bell

Prof Bell has been the Director of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Research and Care (CLAHRC) in North West London for the last nine years. He led the development and use of a systematic approach to evidence-based implementation which integrates quality improvement and research to deliver improved patient outcomes. He is also the Chair of the London Urgent and Emergency Care Collaborative.

Alumni achievements

Fourteen Imperial alumni were recognised in the New Year Honours list.

Professor Robert Sparks (Geology 1971, PhD 1974) was awarded a Knighthood for services to Volcanology and Geology with Professor Terence Stephenson (Electrical Engineering 1980) receiving the same honour for services to Healthcare and Children's Health Services.

Stephen Speed (MBA 1998) was awarded a Companion of the Order of the Bath for services to the Oil and Gas Industry and Robin Sham (PhD Civil Engineering 1989) received a CBE for services to the Civil Engineering Profession.

Five alumni received an OBE: Francesca Hegyi (MSc Humanities Programme 1997) for services to Culture in Hull, Professor Christopher Liu (MBBS Charing Cross Hospital Medical School 1985) for services to Ophthalmology, Clive Meux (Westminster Hospital Medical School 1983) for services to People with Mental Ill Health, Professor Andrew Shennan (St Mary's Hospital Medical School 1985) for services to Maternity Care and Joanne Wade (Chemistry 1987, MSc Environmental Technology 1988, PhD 1994) for services to Energy Efficiency.

Three Imperial alumni were awarded an MBE: Michael Barrett (MSc Geology 1990) for services to Transport, William Dunning (MBBS Medicine 2001, PhD National Heart and Lung Institute 2013) for services to Clinical Research, and Jacqueline Gerrard (Mathematics 1976) for services to Education.

Two Imperial alumni were awarded a BEM: Ann Browning (MBBS Charing Cross Hospital Medical School 1957) for charitable services and Michael Speight (Chemical Engineering & Chemical Technology 1981) for services to the community in Rotherham.


Hannah MacLachlan

Hannah MacLachlan
Communications and Public Affairs

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