Oxford Pro-Vice-Chancellor and eminent physicist appointed as new Provost

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Professor Ian Walmsley FRS

Professor Ian Walmsley FRS

Physics pioneer and university leader, Professor Ian Walmsley FRS, has been appointed as the next Provost of Imperial College London.

He is currently Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) and Hooke Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Oxford and will take up his role on 1 September 2018, succeeding Professor James Stirling on his retirement.


Professor Walmsley is a world-renowned expert in ultrafast and quantum optics, and his research has led to advances in fields as diverse as spectroscopy, cryptography, quantum computing, and precision measurement. He graduated from Imperial with a first class honours in physics and has long standing ties with the College.

I look forward to working with colleagues to continue the trajectory of world-leading research, education and innovation for which the College is renowned Professor Ian Walmsley

In his role as Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Walmsley has led Oxford's research and innovation strategy. He is responsible for coordinating the University’s relationships with its major research funders and the engagement of research activities with wider audiences.

Professor Walmsley said: “I am delighted to return to Imperial. It is a fantastic institution with a wonderful future, and I look forward to working with colleagues to continue the trajectory of world-leading research, education and innovation for which the College is renowned.”

Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial, said: “Ian is an exceptional academic leader and an eminent scholar.

“His strong support for collaboration across disciplines, sectors and between nations will make him an outstanding champion for the College and our community. He understands what it takes for great universities to thrive in this era of change.

“His leadership will be a great asset to the College and I look forward to working with him to take the College from strength to strength.”


Professor Walmsley leads the Networked Quantum Information Technologies Hub, which is building the core elements of a quantum computer. He also headed up the creation of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, a national multidisciplinary research centre led by the University of Oxford focussed on developing the next-generation physical science methods that will underpin future advances in the life sciences, as well as bring forward new technologies and their applications in healthcare. 

High-power femtosecond laser
High-power femtosecond laser used in an Imperial and Oxford collaboration

Collaborations between his Oxford group and Imperial physicists have resulted in breakthroughs in the use and measurement of ultrafast lasers and in understanding complex waveforms, as well as advances in quantum photonics and applications to quantum information processing. In September, he joined the College in its celebration of 100 years of research in light and lasers at Imperial.

Professor Walmsley is married to Dr Katharine Pardee, a distinguished lecturer in music and an accomplished organist, originally from the United States. They have two sons and a daughter. 

He will succeed Imperial’s first Provost, Professor James Stirling CBE FRS, who was named Provost in December 2012 and will be retiring this summer.

Professor James Stirling
Professor James Stirling, Imperial's current Provost

Professor Gast added: “We are fortunate that Ian will be building on the great legacy of Imperial’s first Provost James Stirling. James has done so much to enhance our academic mission. We have all learned greatly from his vision, wise counsel, thoughtful leadership and invaluable friendship.”

The Provost is Imperial’s chief academic officer and provides the leadership to ensure excellence in Imperial’s core academic mission in education, research and translation. Professor Walmsley will report directly to President Alice Gast and together they will oversee the College’s strategic direction.


Deborah Evanson

Deborah Evanson
Communications Division

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 3921
Email: d.evanson@imperial.ac.uk

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Hannah MacLachlan

Hannah MacLachlan
Communications and Public Affairs

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Contact details

Email: press.office@imperial.ac.uk
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