The eclectic activities and pioneering achievements of Trinity Fellows, students and the Master have been recognised in recent awards and the New Year honours.
Regius Professor of Engineering at Cambridge and Honorary Fellow at Trinity, Professor David MacKay, has been knighted, and Deputy Head of the Polar Oceans Team at the British Antarctic Survey, Dr Emily Shuckburgh, was awarded an OBE.
Sir David, who studied natural sciences at Trinity, was Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change 2009-2014. He was appointed Regius Professor of Engineering in the Department of Engineering in 2013 – the first royally appointed engineering post at Cambridge.
An expert in machine learning and information theory – he completed his PhD in computation and neural systems at the California Institute of Technology – Sir David is also known for his acclaimed book, Sustainable Energy – without the hot air.
This self-funded publication, aimed at a broad public, outlines the challenges of curbing our fossil-fuel dependence and shifting towards more sustainable energy consumption. Described by Bill Gates as ‘one of the best books on energy’, Sustainable Energy – without the hot air can be downloaded free of charge.
Sir David said:
I am absolutely delighted to receive this honour. I’d like to thank all those from across the political spectrum who supported my work advocating a numerate, engineering-based approach to energy policy and climate-change action, and the civil servants who taught me how to deliver scientific advice in Whitehall. I’d also like to express my gratitude to the University of Cambridge for their support for me throughout my career.
Dr Shuckburgh was a Senior Rouse Ball Scholar at Trinity in 1999, following her PhD and a Trinity scholarship to study mathematics. She was delighted by the recognition of the dual strands of her work on climate science:
The citation was for ‘science and the public communication of science’, thereby underscoring the importance of the two things going hand-in-hand. Following the recent Paris Agreement on climate change, there is much work to be done to develop and communicate the evidence base required to foster a climate-resilient low-carbon world.
Meanwhile, last autumn Trinity engineering student Kevin Wang (pictured second right) won the Sir William Siemens Medal, one of nine students at UK universities who were recognised for their academic and extra-curricular achievements. Kevin beat three other Cambridge candidates competing for the medal.
The award opens up opportunities for Kevin to undertake an internship with Siemens, building on his work experience at Rolls-Royce. He said:
I feel inspired by the work of both companies and enjoy being at the cutting-edge of technology. In a way, Siemens would be a kind of ‘coming home’ for me, combining personal interests with my advantages: I am fluent in German, I have extensive knowledge of the transportation industry and previous experience in CAD systems.
Last year the Master of Trinity, Sir Gregory Winter, was awarded the Wilhelm Exner Medal by the Heinz Fischer, the President of Austria. Established in 1921 by the Austrian industry association, Österreichischer Gewerbeverein (ÖGV), the Wilhelm Exner Medal is awarded to scientific innovators whose work has substantially impacted business and industry. For the first time, the OGV arranged a series of lectures around the work of the awardee, and Sir Gregory gave the inaugural Exner Lecture after the award ceremony in Vienna.
In Therapeutic Antibodies: a Revolution in Pharmaceuticals, he charts the journey from ‘humanising’ the antibodies naturally produced to fight bacteria and viruses, to setting up companies and developing breakthrough treatments for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and diseases such as Crohn’s and cancer.
By pioneering therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (Mabs), Sir Gregory has created a new, rapidly expanding and valuable class of drug, alongside chemical pharmaceuticals, which he predicts will alter the practice of medicine as Mabs are developed further.