SGR patrons are eminent individuals in science, design and/or technology who lend their name publicly in support of SGR
Since its founding in 1992, SGR has had numerous distinguished patrons. Here is a list of a few of our former patrons.
Dr. Lewis Akenji is the Managing Director of Hot or Cool Institute, a Berlin-based public-interest think tank that champions science-based collaboration towards building a sustainable civilisation. He has been featured on several global and local media outlets, including BBC, the Times, Reuters. He has consulted with organizations including United Nations agencies, the Asian and African Development Banks, the European Commission, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and has served as technical or science-policy adviser to several national government delegations, including Finland, Japan, Sweden, Indonesia, Hungary.
Lewis conceived and led the 1.5-Degree Lifestyles project, analysing potential contribution of lifestyle changes to the aspirational 1.5°C target under the Paris Agreement on climate change, and implications on equity and wellbeing.
He has an M.Sc. Sustainable Resource Management (Technical University Munich, Germany) and a Ph.D. Political Economy (University of Helsinki, Finland).
Professor Keith Barnham
Keith Barnham started research in Experimental Particle Physics at Birmingham University, CERN Geneva, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory California and Imperial College London. He became a founder member of Scientists Against Nuclear Arms (SANA) around the time he was deciding to switch his research interest into the more practical and less researched area of solar photovoltaics. Given his new interest in energy generation it became clear that the appropriate area of SANA's work should be the link between nuclear weapons and nuclear power. He co-founded the SANA group which advised the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament at the Sizewell Inquiry and which subsequently published the only public calculations of plutonium production in UK civil reactors. The Labour government's Strategic Defence Review of 2000 published figures which essentially confirmed the SANA team's calculations with the corollary that over 10% of the weapons grade plutonium in UK weapons came from the civil programme.
The switch to photovoltaics research was made with the help of a year spent at the Philips Research Laboratories, Redhill then leaders in the new field of semiconductor low dimensional structures. On returning to Imperial he founded the Quantum Photovoltaic group with Jenny Nelson who had been part of the SANA team and with financial support from the Greenpeace Trust. The group has pioneered the application of nanostructures such as quantum wells and quantum dots in photovoltaics. In 2007 he co-founded a spin-out company QuantaSol to commercialise the quantum well solar cell. He is also interested in practical applications of such devices for example in building integrated concentration systems.
Alan Baxter is an engineer by origin with a wide range of interests. He set up his own engineering practice, Alan Baxter Associates, in 1974 and the firm has grown steadily to 150 strong under his guidance as a Senior Partner. He and the practice play a key role in the masterplanning of major projects such as the Coed Darcy urban village in South Wales and the new town of Poundbury in Dorset which led to a wave of fresh thinking on urban design. He is also responsible for the engineering of new buildings of architectural significance as well as the sensitive reuse of a vast range of historic buildings. He serves on many national panels for bodies like the HLF and English Heritage.
Professor Roy Butterfield graduated from London University in 1949 with a 1st Class Honours degree in Civil Engineering; he obtained a DIC in concrete technology from Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, in 1950.
Roy spent two years on overseas service in East Africa, as a Commissioned Officer in the Royal Engineers. After eight years' construction management in Civil Engineering and Building, he joined the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Southampton in 1963, specialising in Geotechnical Engineering. In 1974 he gained a DSc from the University of Southampton, where he was appointed Professor of Soil Mechanics in 1976 and then became Head of Department from 1979-1989.
He played a leading role in developing MEng (4 year) undergraduate engineering courses in the UK; initiated schemes for such students to spend their final year studying full-time in France. Roy is a pioneer of Boundary Element Methods; consultant on Venetian subsidence and Professor (Emeritus) of Civil Engineering, University of Southampton, UK. His main publications are Piled and Pad Foundations, Mechanics of Mohr-Coulomb Materials, Electro-osmosis and Dimensional Analysis. He has supervised 19 successful PhD Theses; authored/co-authored over 100 technical publications and 8 books. He was honorary Editor Géotechnique from 1994 -1996.
Bill Dunster is a leader in sustainable architecture and founder of the practice Zedfactory
Tim Foxon is Professor of Sustainability Transitions at SPRU (Science Policy Research Unit), University of Sussex. His research explores the technological and social factors relating to the innovation of new energy technologies, the co-evolution of technologies and institutions for a transition to a sustainable low carbon economy, and relations and interdependencies between energy use and economic growth. He is a member of the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand, the UK Energy Research Centre and of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy. His book on Energy and Economic Growth: Why we need a new pathway to prosperity was published by Routledge in December 2017.
He began his career as a theoretical physicist, gaining a PhD from the University of Cambridge, before a growing awareness of the severity of environmental impacts from human activities led him to switch to research on understanding the inter-relations between social, technological and ecological systems. He was subsequently a researcher and lecturer at Imperial College London, University of Cambridge and University of Leeds, on urban energy and water systems, ecological footprinting, renewable energy systems and policy, and sustainable innovation policy.
He has a long association with and support for Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR), having served as Secretary from 2000-2007, and as author of the SGR ethical careers briefing Cleaner Technologies: A Positive Choice.
Sandy Halliday, a chartered engineer, has worked in environmental building research, training, policy guidance and as a project advisor for local and national governments and the private sector for 25 years.
She is Principal of Gaia Research, the company she founded (1996) to support delivery of high quality, healthy, resource efficient and inclusive buildings and places. Gaia Research is part of the Gaia Group (with Gaia Architects, Gaia Planning and Gaia ALDAS). Gaia Group’s ethos is to support sustainable development through a process of interdisciplinary research, design, evaluation, dissemination, training and capacity building. This is in tune with the contemporary needs and generates practical innovation.
Sandy’s first degree in Engineering Design and Appropriate Technology (1982) focussed on socially and environmentally responsible engineering. From her early involvement with the built environment sector she identified a need for design and place making to respond to global limits and to meet community needs and aspirations for sustainable development. She initially worked as a research manager developing UK policy and disseminating information on passive design, clean technologies and benign construction products and materials. She bridges gaps between architecture and engineering in particular in passive design, building physics and process issues. She has authored numerous publications including the training programme - Sustainable Construction, process guidance - The Green Guide to the Architect’s Job Book and Anarchi – Animal Architecture.
As well as research, Sandy thrives on involvement in real projects. She increasingly develops policy and briefing guidance, and real time advice for clients seeking a sustainable approach. Recent projects include a new university campus, a campus regeneration, schools, offices, housing, and sports centres. She has maintained active involvement in community and ecological charities as a Trustee of Forward Scotland, Chair of the Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA), and a Director of the Children's Parliament.
Pauline Harrison was educated at Somerville College, Oxford (BA Hons in Chemistry, DPhil in Crystallography). As a woman, she was ineligible to join the chemists’ Alembic Club, but joined and became President of the Oxford University Scientific Club. Active in the peace movement, she was a delegate to the 1949 Paris Peace Congress. Through Dorothy Hodgkin she was privileged to meet both Linus Pauling and JD Bernal and, at King’s College, London (1952-1955), she was a colleague of Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, though not researching on DNA.
In 1955 she moved to Sheffield and worked in the Department of Molecular Biology (then Biochemistry) at the University of Sheffield from 1956 to her retirement in 1991 (Personal Chair, 1978). In 1997 she was awarded an Honorary DSc by the University of Sheffield and in 2001 gained a CBE.
From 1958 her research was devoted to iron metabolism, principally the structure and function of the iron storage protein, ferritin, and thus participated in interdisciplinary studies encompassing inorganic biochemistry, molecular biology and medicine. She was a founder member of the British Biophysical Society (Chairman, 1960; Honorary Member, 2000) and a co-founder of international discussions on iron proteins (now the International BioIron Society, Honorary Member, 2003). A special issue of Biochimica et Biophysica Acta was dedicated to her in 2010.
Variously a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the Association of Women into Science and Engineering, Friends of the Earth, Liberty, Amnesty International and the Labour Party (but against the Iraq war and Trident), but academic and family commitments precluded her extensive participation in public affairs. She has been Chair of Sheffield University Fine Art Society since 1995. In 2002 she joined the Amnesty International Urgent Action Team after the death of her husband, Royden (social historian and author of The Life and Times of Sidney and Beatrice Webb).
Alastair Hay is Emeritus Professor of Environmental Toxicology at the University of Leeds. He is a member of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) advisory board on education and outreach. He was joint winner of the 2015 OPCW-The Hague Award for outstanding contributions towards preventing the use of chemical weapons.
Alice Larkin is Head of the School of Engineering at the University of Manchester, and a Professor in Climate Science & Energy Policy as part of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Alice trained as an astrophysicist at the University of Leeds, did her PhD in climate modelling at Imperial College, then worked in science communication. She returned to academia in 2003 joining the interdisciplinary Tyndall Centre to research conflicts between climate change and aviation. In 2008 she was appointed as a lecturer to direct projects on international transport and food supply scenarios within a climate change context, and was Director of Tyndall Manchester between 2013 and 2016. Alice was the lead Manchester investigator on a large consortium project funded by the EPSRC entitled 'Shipping in Changing Climates'. She was also PI on a large EPSRC consortium project on the Water-Food-Energy Nexus and a Co-I on the UKERC project RACER. Alice is also a Tyndall Council Member, at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, and a UKERC Research Committee Member with the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC)
Kate Macintosh studied architecture in Edinburgh after which she worked for 2 years in Scandinavia. On returning to UK in 1964 she worked for a short time for Denys Lasden on the National Theatre project. Most of her subsequent career was in Local government, firstly designing housing in the London Boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth, and later with East Sussex and Hampshire County Architects. In 1995 she moved to private practice in Finch Macintosh Architects, focusing on sustainable building construction. She retired in 2008.
Kate has served on the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Council and was a Vice President for Public Affairs in 1996. She was the first chair person of the Women's Architect Group. As Chair of Architects for Peace (A4P) from its launch in 1981, she used her links with the RIBA to get nuclear and civil defence issues debated in the Instutute. The culmination of this was in 1983 when the RIBA asked A4P to co-organise a debate on nuclear shelters as part of their official programme. As a result of this meeting the RIBA prepared its own report, published in 1990, on the effects of nuclear war on the built environment, along the lines of the British Medical Association's report advising the public on the medical effects of nuclear war.
In 1984 Kate co-authored the booklet Sussex after the Bomb of which 2,000 copies were printed. In 1985, A4P members including Kate collaborated with an eminent US architect from New York to set up the international peace organisation now called ARC Peace.
In 1991 Kate became Vice-chair and later Chair (except for the years 1997-8) of Architects and Engineers for Social Responsibility (AESR), formed out of the merger between A4P and Engineers for Social Responsibility. During this time she was involved in the publication of the briefing papers on Sustainability, Energy, Personal Transport, Housing and Waste Management. After AESR became part of SGR in 2005, Kate became Vice-Chair until stepping down in 2011.
Kate received her MBE for services to Architecture in 1987, having been nominated by RIBA.
Professor Bill McGuire
Bill McGuire is Professor Emeritus of Geophysical & Climate Hazards at University College London, and a co-director of the New Weather Institute. He was a contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report on 'Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation'. His most recent book is Waking the Giant: how a changing climate triggers earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes.
Professor Jenny Nelson FRS
Jenny Nelson is professor of physics at Imperial College London. She is a leading researcher on materials for solar photovoltaic cells. An interview with her can be found here.
William Powrie is Professor of Geotechnical Engineering and Head of the School of Civil Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton, and Geotechnical Consultant to WJ Groundwater Ltd. His main technical areas of interest are sustainable waste/resource management and geotechnical aspects of transport infrastructure.
His work in waste/resource management focuses particularly on the development of a sound scientific basis for policy and practice; this was the topic of the AESR Prestige lecture he delivered at the Institution of Civil Engineers in November 2004. He leads a major programme of fundamental research aimed at accelerating the stabilization of landfilled wastes. He was a co-author of the Institute of Wastes Management report on The role and operation of the flushing bioreactor, and chairs the Technologies Advisory Committee for Defra’s £30M programme of research and demonstrator projects for new technologies for the treatment of biodegradable waste.
In transport infrastructure, his work has focused on groundwater control and in-ground construction to reduce environmental impacts. Major projects include the A55 Conwy Crossing, Jubilee Line extension stations at Canary Wharf and Canada Water and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. He is a co-author of Construction Industry Research and Information (CIRIA) reports C515 Groundwater control – design and practice (2000) and C580 Embedded retaining walls – guidance for economic design (2003), both of which incorporate his research results. He is Principal Investigator for Rail Research UK, a universities-based centre for Rail Systems Research that is looking to improve the sustainability, attractiveness and environmental performance of railways
William is committed to encouraging sustainability in daily life, including the key areas of transport and resource management. He cycles to work on a daily basis, and wherever possible will re-use and recycle goods and materials. He enjoys walking, cycling, reading and music.
Megan Povey is Professor of Food Physics at the University of Leeds and has pioneered the use of non-invasive methods for the assessment of the quality of foods, particularly acoustic means. She developed the standard method for assessing the crispy/crunchiness of foods using a combination of a Texture Analyser and analysis of acoustic emission. She believes that all human beings have the right to high quality and economic food which is life enhancing and in the important role that physics can play in delivering this objective through food processing and production. She is a founder member of the Institute of Physics ‘Physics in Food Manufacturing’ group.
Her politics were shaped as a student of physics at Lancaster University in the late 1960s by the events of the Vietnam War, The Northern Irish civil rights movement and opposition to the rise of fascist movements. As a result of this involvement she became a member of the International Socialists and remains an active member of its successor, the Socialist Workers Party. She has campaigned against nuclear power and on behalf of CND, the Anti-Nazi League and latterly Unite Against Fascism and Stand Up to Racism. A trade unionist all her working life, she was a member of the Dyers and Bleachers Union at age 17 and more recently President of The University of Leeds University and College Union (UCU) branch and a member of the UCU National Executive for six years.
Philosophically of the view that scientific knowledge achieves relative objectivity through engagement with the scientific method, and in that sense is therefore not ‘political’, nevertheless she believes that scientists cannot be indifferent to the impact of their work. Whilst serendipity assures that the outcomes of research can often not be reliably predicted, nevertheless scientists must take responsibility for the questions asked.
Martin Rees was President of the Royal Society from 2005 to 2010. He is Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics, and Master of Trinity College, both at the University of Cambridge. He is also Visiting Professor at Leicester University and Imperial College London. He was appointed Astronomer Royal in 1995, and was nominated to the House of Lords in 2005 as a cross-bench peer.
He has served on many bodies connected with education, space research, arms control and international collaboration in science. Further information can be found on his website.
Anna Stavrianakis is Professor of International Relations at the University of Sussex, where she has taught since 2006. Her main research and teaching interests are UK arms export policy, international arms transfer control, militarism and (in)security. In recent years she has focused on UK arms exports to the Saudi-led coalition and the war in Yemen, and has engaged with MPs, journalists, lawyers, NGOs, campaign groups and activists to try and generate accountability for UK policy.
Julia Steinberger is professor of social ecology and ecological economics at the Université de Lausanne. She researches and teaches in the interdisciplinary areas of Ecological Economics and Industrial Ecology. Her research examines the connections between resource use (energy and materials, greenhouse gas emissions) and societal performance (economic activity and human wellbeing). She is interested in quantifying the current and historical linkages between resource use and socioeconomic parameters, and identifying alternative development pathways to guide the necessary transition to a low carbon society.
She is the recipient of a Leverhulme Research Leadership Award for her research project 'Living Well Within Limits' investigating how universal human well-being might be achieved within planetary boundaries. She is Lead Author for the IPPC's (International Panel on Climate Change) 6th Assessment Report with Working Group 3.
Gavin Strang grew up on a farm in rural Perthshire. He was educated at Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities and worked as a scientist with the Animal Breeding Organisation in Edinburgh.
He was elected to the House of Commons as the Member of Parliament for Edinburgh East in 1970, stepping down in 2010. He has served on Select Committees for Science and Technology, Scotland and Agriculture. In Opposition he has been a spokesperson on Scottish affairs and Employment. From 1992 to 1997 he was his party's principal spokesperson on Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
He served as an energy Minister in 1974 and Parliament Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food from 1974 to 1979. From 1997 to 1998 he was the Cabinet Minister responsible for Transport.
In 1987 he successfully introduced the Aids (Control) Act under the private Member's Bill procedure and has continued to take an interest in HIV/AIDS issues both at home and abroad.
As a member of Scientists Against Nuclear Arms (SANA), the fore-runner organisation to SGR, he campaigned against the deployment of intermediate range nuclear weapons in Europe by the US and the USSR. He opposed the deployment of Trident and advocates a non-nuclear defence policy. He opposed the Iraq war, was and is against replacing Trident.
He was Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for World Government and is a Trustee of the One World Trust. He is on the Board of Friends of the Earth, Scotland.
Gavin Strang strongly supports the work of SGR.
Childhood exposure to Aldermaston Marches and membership of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) paved the way for a lifelong concern for peaceful ways to address conflicts. Daphne was a founder member of the Glasgow Group of Engineers for Nuclear Disarmament, which later became Engineers for Social Responsibility, then Architects and Engineers for Social Responsibility (AESR), and then became part of SGR. The group investigated possible peaceful development of the Faslane submarine base and in the late 1980s prepared a talk with slides titled ‘Swords into Ploughshares’. A decade later Daphne wrote the Briefing Paper on Waste for a series issued by AESR. She is now available as a Scottish contact for SGR.
With a degree in metallurgy from Cambridge and research experience at Imperial College, Daphne moved to Scotland and spent 13 years in the Research Centre of Babcock Energy. Here she developed her knowledge of stress analysis and completed an MSc in Pressure Vessel Design at the University of Strathclyde.
Since 1989 she has worked for Cadogans, a small engineering consultancy. Initially her work included design and project management of incinerator and cremator replacements in response to changes in environmental regulations. This led to an interest in waste management and waste to energy.
Daphne’s current work is mainly in forensic engineering, providing expert opinion in disputes. These range from industrial injuries, through component failure to large power station problems. Her particular knowledge of materials and stress analysis forms the basis of much of her work.
This work is largely adversarial so a few years ago Daphne added cooperative dispute resolution to her portfolio by training as a commercial mediator. She carries out some commercial mediations and is a volunteer mediator for the Edinburgh Sheriff Court scheme.
David Webb is Professor of Engineering Modelling, Head of the Centre for Applied Research in Engineering, and Director of the Praxis Centre at Leeds Metropolitan University. He obtained a DPhil in space physics in 1975 from the University of York and, after periods as a post-doctoral researcher at Bell Laboratories and the University of York, joined the Directorate of Scientific and Technical Intelligence at the Ministry of Defence in London in 1978. He moved to the Computer Unit at Leeds Metropolitan University in 1979 and then into the School of Engineering in the early 1980s. He has published widely on the application of engineering modelling, and on nuclear disarmament and the militarisation of space. He is currently working with colleagues in the Praxis Centre on the study of information and technology in peace, conflict resolution and human rights. He is also Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Jane Wernick is a structural engineer who collaborates with architects and other designers on any project that gives delight. She worked for Arup from 1976-1998 including a secondment to Birdair Structures Inc from 1980-1981. She was Principal in Charge of Arup's Los Angeles office from 1986-88. Her most notable project with Arup was the Millennium Wheel.
In 1998 she founded Jane Wernick Associates, a small firm responsible for a wide portfolio of buildings, bridges, sculptures and furniture. Projects include the Young Vic Theatre, London; the treetop walkway at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; the Singing Ringing Tree, Burnley; Antony Gormley's studio; a classroom in the marshes for the RSPB at Rainham; and the refurbishment of 3 Carlton Gardens for the Institute for Government. The work of the practice can be seen at www.wernick.eu.com. In 2015 the firm was incorporated into the firm engineersHRW, and Jane is now a consultant to that practice.
She has taught at many universities, including Harvard's Graduate School of Design, the Mackintosh School of Architecture and the Architectural Association. She is a member of various design review panels, and the Edge think tank (www.edgedebate.com); and was a member of Building Futures (the think-tank of the Royal Institute of British Architects), for which she edited the book, Building Happiness – Architecture to Make You Smile.
She was awarded a CBE in 2015.
Mark Whitby is a founder and a director of the engineering consulting firm Whitbybird and a past president of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He has an appetite for innovation, imaginative design solutions, new ways of working and the delivery of a sustainable future. He is a Visiting Professor at Nottingham University.
A former Olympian, Mark Whitby is married with five children and lives on a smallholding in Hertfordshire. He is trying to make his life as self-sufficient as possible and is a signatory of Colin Challen’s 25% CO2 reduction pledge although he expects things to get worse before they get better.
John Whitelegg is the Managing Director of Eco-Logica Ltd, a consultancy specialising in sustainable transport, environmental audit and review, life cycle analysis and corporate environmental strategies. He is also Visiting Professor of Sustainable Transport at Liverpool John Moores University, and a Professor in the Department of Biology, University of York – where he is attached to the York office of the Stockholm Environment Institute.
John has acted as a consultant to policy-makers and/or community groups in Australia, China, Denmark, Germany, Israel, India, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK. He has worked in detail on alternatives to some of Britain’s largest road schemes (e.g. the Birmingham Northern Relief Road). He was also a consultant to the European Commission, helping in the design of the sixth Environmental Action Programme for the European Union.
Most of John’s career previous to these posts was spent at Lancaster University. From 1990 until 1993, he was Head of the Department of Geography at Lancaster University and Director of the University’s Environmental Epidemiology Research Unit. Research carried out at this unit demonstrated a statistically significant relationship between high traffic volumes and high levels of illness.
John has recently added a law degree to his qualifications and is researching the legal implications of a shift to low carbon procurement, local sourcing and the interaction between human rights and environmental quality. He has also served as a city councillor for the Green Party, stepping down in 2011.
He has written eight books and over 50 academic papers on transport and environment topics, and is Founding Editor of the journal World Transport Policy and Practice.
Former Patron's Biographies
Stephen Hawking was a world famous theoretical physicist. He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for 30 years. His work has been essential in understanding and classifying black holes and he also popularised the subject through books including A Brief History of Time and The Universe In A Nutshell. He won numerous awards including, in 2006, the Royal Society's Copley Medal, the world's oldest award for scientific achievement, and in 2009, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Further information can be found on his website.
He was a patron of SGR from 1992 to 2018.
Tom Kibble was a leading theoretical physicist, and was a professor at Imperial College London for nearly 30 years. He played a major part in the research which led to the search for and eventual discovery of a long-anticipated particle, now known as the Higgs boson, discovered at CERN in 2012 and for which several close colleagues were awarded the Nobel Prize. He was awarded a knighthood in 2014 for his role in this work.
Tom was also very active in campaigning for responsible science and technology, including being Chair of the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science in the 1970s and Chair of Scientists Against Nuclear Arms in the 1980s.
He was a patron of SGR from 1992 to 2016.
Harvey Goldstein was Professor of Statistical Methods at the Institute of Education from 1997 to 2005, and then Professor of Social Statistics at the University of Bristol until his death in 2020. He also had a professorial appointment at the University College London Institute of Child Health, and visiting professorships at both the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Australian Catholic University, Brisbane.
He had been a member of the Council of the Royal Statistical Society, and chair of its Educational Strategy Group, as well as a joint editor of the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, series A. He was awarded the RSS Guy medal in silver in 1998 and was elected a fellow of the British Academy in 1997.
One of his research interests was the use and abuse of performance indicators (league tables) in the public sector.
He was a patron of SGR from 2017 to 2020.
Ursula Mittwoch was Professor Emeritus of Genetics at University College London (UCL). Born in Germany, she came to England in 1939 and finished her schooling here. Prevented by war-time regulations from entering full-time University, she worked as technical assistant to Kenneth Mather at the John Innes Horticultural Institution, at the same time attending evening classes in Botany and Chemistry intended to lead to a BSc degree. After graduating in 1947, she entered UCL as a PhD student in Genetics and obtained this degree three years later.
Post-doctoral work at UCL included collaborative studies on biochemical genetics of cystinuria, as well as investigations on leucocytes in Down syndrome and lipid storage diseases. After writing a book on Sex Chromosomes, she began investigating the genetics of sex differentiation, leading to the postulate that in humans and other mammals, male sex differentiation requires a higher rate of cell division than in females. This hypothesis has since been proved correct.
After retirement in 1989, Ursula spent a few years as visiting Professor at the London Hospital Medical School and Queen Mary College, followed by a return to UCL.
She was a patron of SGR from 2011 to 2021.
Research work for John Nye began during World War II at the Cavendish Laboratory, where he studied under Sir Lawrence Bragg and Professor E Orowan. The topic was metal physics, but following Orowan’s insight that glaciers flowed just like a metal near its melting point, John turned to glaciology—testing theory against field evidence. He became successively President of the International Glaciological Society and President of the International Commission for Snow and Ice. The use of radio echo sounding in glaciology later led him to wave physics and the notion of wave vortices, now part of the new subject of singularity optics. He was Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Bristol until his death in 2019.
He was a patron of SGR from 1992 to 2019.
While all patrons endorse SGR's values and aims as laid down in our constitution, it should not be assumed that they always agree with all of SGR's outputs