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World-leading scientists to receive honorary degrees at Harper Adams Graduation 2015

Posted 7 September 2015

Both recipients of the 2015 University honorary degrees have made outstanding contributions in their fields of science. Their respective contributions on climate research and pathogenic organisms have been widely recognised as world-leading and of significance across a range of scientific disciplines."

Harper Adams University will present honorary degrees to two world-leading scientists at the Graduation ceremony on September 25. 

VIP guests Professor Dame Julia Slingo and Professor Hugh Pennington will each receive Honorary Doctor of Science degrees, ahead of more than 600 students graduating from Harper Adams with qualifications ranging from foundation degrees to PhDs.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Mills said: “Both recipients of the 2015 University honorary degrees have made outstanding contributions in their fields of science. Their respective contributions on climate research and pathogenic organisms have been widely recognised as world-leading and of significance across a range of scientific disciplines. 

“But of particular interest to Harper Adams is the significance of their research to agriculture which we are acknowledging and recognising with these awards. We look forward to presenting these awards at our Graduation Ceremony later in September.”

Professor Dame Julia Slingo is the Met Office Chief Scientist. She has responsibility for scientific research and development and represents the office on science and technology, across government.

Dame Julia has had a long-term career in climate modelling and research, working at the Met Office, ECMWF and NCAR in the USA. Her personal research addresses problems in tropical climate variability - its influence on the global climate; its role in seasonal to decadal climate prediction, and its response to climate change. 

In 2007, Dame Julia was appointed to the Joint Scientific Committee of the World Climate Research Programme, in 2008 she became the first woman President of the Royal Meteorological Society and in 2014 Dame Julia was awarded a DBE in the New Year honours for her contribution to weather and climate science over a career spanning more than 30 years.

She said: “I am delighted to accept this honorary degree and to join Harper Adams in celebrating the achievements of their students.  We face enormous challenges in feeding the world and sustaining our natural environment, and the knowledge and expertise that you contribute will be vitally important.”

The second honorary doctorate will be presented to microbiology expert, Professor Hugh Pennington, who said: “Food production is a great British success story. For more than a century Harper Adams has played a key role in its delivery. To be asked by the University to accept an honorary Doctorate and so join its work is a great privilege as well as a deep honour.”

Professor Pennington was chairman of the expert group created by the Scottish Executive in response to the 1996 Escherichia coli outbreak in the town of Wishaw, central Scotland. Following his chairmanship of the E. coli enquiry, Professor Pennington has worked for the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments as an expert on food safety.

He was a member of the Scottish Food Advisory Committee, part of the Food Standards Agency - an agency he recommended the government create - and was a founder member of the World Food Programme Technical Advisory Group.

Professor Pennington has criticised the UK and German governments for their handling of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and the NHS for their handling of MRSA. He chaired a 2005 enquiry into a Welsh E. coli outbreak. 

Professor Pennington, Emeritus Professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2013 for services to microbiology and food hygiene. 

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