Alumni Services

Eminent alumni named in New Year’s Honours list

Once again, alumni of the University of Edinburgh have been recognised by Her Majesty The Queen in the New Year’s Honours List 2014.

Professor Sir Geoff Palmer

Coming from professions as varied as veterinary surgery and the diplomatic corps, the alumni have been awarded for their extraordinary service and achievements in public life.

Academics knighted

Among the newly appointed Knights Bachelor is Professor Adrian Bird, who received a PhD from the University in 1972, and who is now Buchanan Professor of Genetics at the University.

Joining him is Professor Geoff Palmer , who earned his PhD in 1967. Professor Palmer is a Professor Emeritus at Heriot-Watt University and receives his knighthood for services to Human Rights, Science and charity. Sir Geoff is a leading anti-racism campaigner and was appointed Scotland’s first and only black professor in 2011.


The OBE has been awarded to Dr Regis Kelly (1961 BSc Physics, 1962 Dip Medical Biophysics) who has been director of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences in San Francisco since 2003. Known as an innovative ambassador for the work of UK scientists in the USA, Dr Kelly receives his award in recognition of his services to science, innovation and global health.

Meanwhile Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh (1991 MA Arts General), founder and chair of the Scottish Asian Woman’s Association, also receives the OBE for services to business and to the Asian community in Scotland.

Professor Lesley Yellowlees (1975 Chemical Physics, 1983 PhD), who has also been named Alumnus of the Year, received the CBE.

Volunteer honoured

Margaret Tait, a former Convener of the Business Committee of the General Council of the University, was awarded an MBE for services to education. Mrs Tait, who is an Edinburgh maths graduate, is also a member of the University Court.

Full list of honoured alumni

Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour:

Baroness Onora Sylvia O’Neill of Bengarve CH CBE FBA FRS 2006 Hon DLetters, for services to Philosophy and Public Policy



Professor Sir Adrian Peter Bird CBE FRS FRSE 1972 PhD, Buchanan Professor of Genetics, the University of Edinburgh. For services to Science

Professor Sir Godfrey Henry Oliver Palmer OBE 1967 PhD, Professor Emeritus, Heriot-Watt University. For services to Human Rights, Science and charity


CBE - Commander of the Order of the British Empire:

Professor Alastair David Shaw Fowler CBE FBA 1952 MA English, Emeritus Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature, the University of Edinburgh. For services to Literature and Education

Professor Olivier James Garden CBE 1974 BSc Pathology (S&E), 1977 MBChB, Regius Chair of Clinical Surgery, the University of Edinburgh. For services to Surgery

Professor John Anderson Kay CBE FBA FRSE 1969 MA Economics, for services to Economics

Professor Lesley Jane Yellowlees CBE FRSE 1975 BSc Chemical Physics, 1983 PhD, President, Royal Society of Chemistry. For services to Chemistry


OBE - Officer of the Order of the British Empire:

Mrs Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh OBE 1991 MA Arts General, for services to Business and to the Asian community in Scotland

Mr Owen Dennis Kelly OBE 1986 MA Chinese, 1998 PGD Social & Political Studies, Chief Executive, Scottish Financial Enterprise. For Financial and Charitable Services in Scotland

Dr Ernest Fergus Logan OBE 1959 BVMS, 1972 PhD, Managing Director, Giltspur Scientific Ltd. For services to Agriculture in Northern Ireland

Mr Richard Edward John Wightman OBE JP 1965 BCom, Chair of Corporation, Bradford College. For services to Further Education and voluntary services to the community in Bradford

MBE - Member of the Order of the British Empire:

Mr Edward George Campbell MBE 1960 BVMS, Veterinary Surgeon. For services to Animal Welfare and to the community in Londonderry

Dr Heather Sylvia McHaffie MBE 1992 MPHIL, 1998 PhD Ecology and Resource Management, Scottish Plants Officer, The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. For services to the Conservation of Plants in Scotland

Miss Angela Elizabeth Shearer MBE 2006 BED(H) Physical Education, Committee Chair, Relay for Life Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. For charitable services to Cancer Research UK

Mrs Anne Margaret Tait MBE 1965 BSc Science Ordinary, Lately General Council Assessor, the University of Edinburgh. For services to Education


Diplomatic Service and Overseas List:

Order of St Michael and St George:

Dr Alastair David McPhail CMG OBE 1991 PhD Russian, Lately HM Ambassador, South Sudan. For services to British interests in South Sudan


OBE - Officer of the Order of the British Empire:

Dr Regis Baker Kelly OBE 1961 BSc Physics, 1962 Dip Medical Biophysics, Director, California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, San Francisco. For services to science, innovation and global health

Mr Alistair George Speirs OBE 1975 BCom, Founder and Chairman, Phoenix Communications, Indonesia. For services to British commercial and cultural interests and to charitable work in Indonesia