Two Somervillians were recognised in the New Year’s Honours List while several Somerville alumni and Fellows have received awards or other forms of recognition in 2014 as well.

Baroness Onora O’Neill (PPP, 1959) has been made a Companion of Honour for services to Philosophy and Public Policy. A distinction only ever held by 65 people at a time, it is awarded for work of exceptional national and international importance.

In a message to Dr Alice Prochaska, Baroness O’Neill said she had recently been reminded of the debt she owed to her College Philosophy Tutor, Elizabeth Anscombe. Baroness O’Neill was formerly President of the British Academy, is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and is currently Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Professor Marian Dawkins (Zoology, 1963) has been appointed CBE for services to animal welfare. Professor Dawkins is Emeritus Professor of Animal Behaviour and Emeritus Fellow of Somerville College. Her research interests include the welfare of farm animals, vision in birds, animal signalling, behavioural synchrony, and animal consciousness.

“I hope the award will be seen as an acknowledgement that animal welfare has now become a scientific subject in the sense that what animals do and the effects of what is done to them can now be addressed scientifically,” she said. Professor Dawkins recently received a grant of £700,000 for her research into chicken welfare and behaviour.

Senior scientist

Meanwhile, Dame Kay Davies, a Somerville alumna and honorary fellow of the College, has been named one of Britain’s top ten ‘Explorer Scientists’ in a list of 100 top British scientists compiled by the Science Council. Dame Kay is Director of the University’s MRC Functional Genomics Unit. The Science Council report said she was notable as “a leading researcher into molecular analysis of human genetic disease, particularly the genetic basis of neuromuscular and neurological disorders”.

“I was delighted and honoured to see my name included in a list which highlights the various roles for scientists in society,” she said. “Inspirational teaching played a major role in my career choice and life at Somerville was a large part of that. I hope this list will inspire many young people to think of science as a rewarding career path.”

Dame Kay recently published an article in the New Statesman about the need for women scientists to pursue their career ambitions.

Arts Fellowship

Jennifer Coates (English, 1962) has been made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, in recognition of her “achievements as a writer and lecturer on English Language and Linguistics”.

Professor Coates is Emeritus Professor of Language and Linguistics at Roehampton University. Her current research interests include the construction of gender through talk, language and sexuality, conversational narrative, and turn-taking patterns in conversation.

Major awards

Two Somerville Fellows have received major research awards in 2014.

Dr Jonathan Marchini, Somerville Fellow and Tutor in Statistics, has won a five-year European Research Council Consolidator Grant worth €1.6 million to fund two postdoctoral degrees, enabling him to research the development of statistical methods for genetic studies of human disease and human population genetics.

Junior Research Fellow Dr James N. Sleigh has been awarded a four-year Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship. These fellowships, provided by the Wellcome Trust, provide a unique opportunity for newly qualified postdoctoral researchers to direct and develop their research careers. Dr Sleigh will be conducting his research (based at University College London) into dynamic cellular processes before returning to Oxford to work on induced pluripotent stem cell models of CMT2D.

Further reading?

Dr Siddharth Arora joins the Oxford India Centre as Programme Director

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Dr Siddharth Arora joins the Oxford India Centre as Programme Director

Professor Frances Stewart named Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences

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Professor Frances Stewart named Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences

Remembering Somerville Co-Founder Henry Francis Pelham

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Remembering Somerville Co-Founder Henry Francis Pelham