We would like to offer our deepest congratulations to Somerville alumnae Professor Julia Yeomans FRS and Theresa Wise, along with our Senior Associate, Alexandra Vincent, on their recognition in the New Year Honours 2024.

Professor Julia Yeomans receives an OBE for her services to Physics. A theoretical physicist, Professor Yeomans is Director of the Rudolf Peierls Centre at the University of Oxford, as well as an Honorary Fellow of Somerville College. In her research, Professor Yeomans studies a range of problems in soft matter and biological physics. She has recently been awarded a five year ERC Advanced Grant to investigate how the concepts of active matter physics might be applied to biological processes such as morphogenesis, cancer progression and wound healing.

Professor Yeomans has conducted science outreach for younger and more general audiences, including her 2009 lecture at the Royal Society, ‘Nature’s Raincoats: Bio-inspired surface science’. She also delivered the 2023 Dorothy Hodgkin Memorial Lecture, which considered the patterns and formations contained in nature.

Speaking of her honour, Professor Yeomans commented, ‘The award of an OBE is a wonderful surprise. Thank you to my Somerville tutors, Dr Ann Eggington and Professor Dame Carole Jordan, for their example and encouragement.’

Theresa Wise (1983, Lit Hum) receives an MBE for services to Broadcasting. She is currently Chief Executive of the Royal Television Society, an organisation which she has steered towards becoming a vibrant reflection of the British TV industry since taking the reins in 2013.

Following her degree at Somerville, Theresa launched her career with an MBA from the London Business School followed by strategy and marketing roles for British Aerospace Communications and British Satellite Broadcasting, among others. Theresa subsequently held senior roles at Accenture (Partner in the Media and Entertainment practice) and The Walt Disney Company (Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy, EMEA) before establishing her own business, T Wise Consulting Ltd, which provided strategic advice to media, telecoms and technology clients. In addition to her role at the Royal Television Society, Theresa also serves on the Board of the IBC.

Reflecting on her professional life to date, Theresa commented, ‘My time at Somerville was the absolute bedrock of my subsequent career. I started at Somerville with a reasonable sense of curiosity and left with even more, together with a range of analytical skills that gave me the ability to handle huge amounts of data and formulate a compelling story. The cut, thrust and challenge of the tutorials provided unbeatable training in how to create and hold a line of argument. Above all, I formed the friendships that would emotionally sustain me through career highs and lows – and many other life events. I look back on my time at Somerville with great affection and pride.’

Our Senior Associate Alexandra Vincent, Chief Operating Officer and Divisional Registrar of Oxford University’s Humanities Division, has been appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to research funding, in recognition of her achievements in her previous role of Chief Operating Officer for the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Alexandra said: “To have received this honour is such a wonderful recognition and I admit to being a little overwhelmed! Across my career I have had the joy of working with some amazing people and this recognition is really a tribute to those fantastic teams and individuals. Having worked in many different aspects of research funding and policy, I am particularly pleased that this highlights the importance of research funding in the arts and humanities and the contribution they make to all of our lives.

“With my new team, at the University of Oxford, as we look forward to the opening of the new Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities, I am looking forward to continuing to demonstrate how important the arts and humanities are in navigating our way through the big challenges like AI, climate change, as well as social justice and human rights, that make this increasingly complex world.”

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