Imperial College London

Sir Keith O’Nions appointed Rector of Imperial College London

Sir Keith O'Nions

Sir Keith to lead Imperial until the end of 2013 - <em>News release</em>

For immediate release
Friday 9 July 2010

Sir Keith O’Nions FRS, Acting Rector of Imperial College London, has been appointed as Rector until the end of 2013, its Council announced today.

Sir Keith joined the College in July 2008 as Director of Imperial’s Institute for Security Science and Technology, and brings extensive leadership experience in both academia and government. His appointment as Acting Rector in succession to Sir Roy Anderson FRS began on 1 January.

Lord Kerr, Chairman of the Court and Council, said:

“I’m delighted that Sir Keith has agreed to serve a full term. His first six months have been a tour de force. With him at the helm, we have a highly skilled and experienced captain to navigate us through some of the most challenging waters that universities have faced in a generation.

“Keith’s deep knowledge of both academia and government means that he understands the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. It is to Imperial’s great benefit that he will remain in post to strengthen its position on the world stage and lead it to even greater success.”

Prior to joining Imperial in 2008, Sir Keith held government posts including Director General, Science and Innovation, in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and Chief Scientific Advisor to both the Department of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Defence. As a career academic for more than 30 years, he has also taught, researched and led departments in some of the world’s top universities, culminating in the role of Head of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford.

Sir Keith, Rector of Imperial College London, said:

“There’s never a dull moment at Imperial and it’s been a real privilege to immerse myself in all aspects of life here over the past six months. This is a place where excellence flourishes and which attracts people of ability from around the world. I am so impressed by the way that staff and students are always on the lookout for the next opportunity to apply their knowledge and abilities for the good of quality of life globally.

“There are tough challenges ahead but Imperial is certainly not going to stand still over the coming years. We will continue to advance our academic mission by strengthening our core disciplines, providing time and space for interdisciplinary work, investing in the student experience and maintaining the high quality of our support staff. Imperial is packed with can-do people and I am very excited about what the future holds.”

High resolution photos of Sir Keith are available at:

Abigail Smith
Imperial College London Press Office
Tel: 020 7594 6701

About Sir Keith O’Nions FRS

Sir Keith O'Nions, was appointed to set up and lead Imperial's Institute for Security Science and Technology in July 2008, prior to which he was Director General, Science and Innovation, in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. This followed his position as Chief Scientific Advisor at the MoD from January 2000 to July 2004 and Director General, Science and Innovation, and Chief Scientific Adviser in the DTI (then DIUS) from 2004 onwards.

He attended the University of Nottingham and gained a PhD in Earth Sciences from the University of Alberta and became a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Oslo. From 1971 to 1975 he was Demonstrator and then Lecturer in Geochemistry at University of Oxford. He became Professor of Geology at Columbia University in 1975, Royal Society Research Professor in Cambridge from 1979 and Head of Earth Sciences in Oxford in 1995.

He became a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 1979, and a Member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in 1980. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society (1983), Honorary Fellow of Indian Academy of Sciences (1998), Fellow Indian National Science Academy (2001), and Honorary Fellow Royal Academy of Engineering (2005). He has received Honorary doctorates from a number of Universities.

He has been the chairman, or a member, of a number of Research Council committees over the last 25 years and a member of the Council of Science and Technology from 1998-2000. He was Trustee and Chairman of the Natural History Museum from 1996 to 2005. He received a knighthood for services to earth sciences in the 1999 Queen's Birthday Honours.

About Imperial College London

Consistently rated amongst the world's best universities, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 14,000 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and business, delivering practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.

Since its foundation in 1907, Imperial's contributions to society have included the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of research for the benefit of all continues today, with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to improve global health, tackle climate change, develop sustainable sources of energy and address security challenges.

In 2007, Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust formed the UK’s first Academic Health Science Centre. This unique partnership aims to improve the quality of life of patients and populations by taking new discoveries and translating them into new therapies as quickly as possible.


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