Alumni Services

Birthday honours for alumni

Fourteen alumni have been named in the Queen’s birthday honours 2018, including a soil forensic scientist, a conservationist in Mozambique, a director at the Scottish Government and former University academics.

Soil and forensic science

Lorna Dawson CBE

Professor Lorna Dawson is Principal Soil Scientist at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen. She was appointed CBE for services to soil and forensic science. The 1979 BSc in Geography graduate’s expertise spans three decades of managing and conducting research in soil, in particular its application within the criminal justice system. Professor Dawson has also been an advisor to crime novelists and TV producers.


I feel grateful to be honoured in this way. I am privileged to be an integral part of dedicated police, scientific and legal teams.  I would like to thank my colleagues across a range of disciplines, family and friends for their continued support; this honour and the work it represents would not have been possible without them. I appreciate the excellent education I received at Edinburgh University in the broad range of sciences, which has been of great value throughout my career.

Professor Lorna Dawson CBE


Rob Craig

Rob Craig was until recently Programme Director at the Niassa Reserve in Mozambique. He graduated with a BSc in Geology in 1999 and went on to study a masters at Manchester. He received an MBE for services to conservation. Mr Craig’s career has previously taken him to Costa Rica, Kenya, South Sudan and Afghanistan.

I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to receive this honour. Since studying at Edinburgh, I’ve been fortunate to have worked with inspiring colleagues and organisations on a range of wildlife conservation initiatives to safeguard some of the world’s great wilderness areas. My role has been in strengthening the management and governance systems in these conservation areas, with specific attention in recent years focused on tackling the ongoing African elephant poaching crisis. Success ultimately relies on strong political backing and public support, so I hope in its small way this recognition will inspire others to engage in the conservation cause.

Mr Robert Craig MBE

Public service

Dr Alison Elliot CBE and Barbara Allison CBE
Dr Alison Elliot CBE (left) and Ms Barbara Allison CBE (right)

Dr Alison Elliot has been appointed CBE for public service. The former Associate Director of the University’s Centre for Theology and Public Issues had previously been appointed OBE in 2003. She is one of five current or former University staff to be named in the birthday honours.

A three-time Edinburgh graduate, Dr Elliot received an MA in Mathematics, followed by a PhD in Social Sciences. She became the first woman moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2004 and a year later was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity.

I’m delighted to have been awarded a CBE for public service. Branching out from the shelter of the university into engaging with public issues was quite scary at first, but I’ve found it stimulating to make that bridge between the academic and the policy world and I’ve met many inspiring people in the process. Throughout it all, the university has remained a home for me that’s intellectually nourishing and warmly supportive, and for that I’m very grateful.

Dr Alison Elliot CBE

MBA graduate Barbara Allison is Director of Communications, Ministerial Support and Facilities at the Scottish Government. She previously worked for the Scottish Prison Service, holding roles in Strategy, Finance and Manufacturing and as Director of Human Resources. The qualified chartered accountant has served on the board of directors for a number of charities including the Traverse Theatre.

I was surprised and delighted to receive a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.  It means a huge amount to me and my family. I see this honour as recognition of the work that the civil service does across the many aspects of its work. In particular, I want to thank everyone who I have worked with in Scottish Government, in the prison service and in the charity organisations for their contribution to this. It is privilege and a pleasure to do this role and I especially wish to thank my colleagues for their professionalism, their support and their commitment.

Ms Barbara Allison CBE

Understanding Islamic history

Professor Carole Hillenbrand CBE

PhD graduate Professor Carole Hillenbrand CBE is Professor Emerita of Islamic History at the University of Edinburgh and a Professor at the University of St Andrews. She has been recognised for services to the Understanding of Islamic History.

I feel both honoured and happy to have been awarded the CBE for Services to the Understanding of Islamic history. I taught Islamic history at the University of Edinburgh for 29 years at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, and supervised 59 doctoral theses on numerous aspects of the Muslim world. That was both a privilege and a pleasure. And in today’s world it is more important than ever for the peoples of the West to learn about Islamic history in order to better understand current events.

Professor Carole Hillenbrand CBE

Complete list of honoured alumni

Dr Richard Henderson CH

Molecular Biologist and Biophysicist, Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology. For services to Electron Microscopy of Biological Molecules.

Professor Sir James Hough, OBE FRS FRSE

Associate Director, Institute for Gravitational Research, University of Glasgow. For services to the Detection of Gravitational Waves.

The Right Honourable Dame Eleanor Fulton Laing DBE MP

Member of Parliament for Epping Forest. For political and public service.

Ms Barbara Pettigrew Allison CBE

1993 MBA Business Administration

Director, Communications, Ministerial Support and Facilities, Scottish Government. For public service.

Mr Alexander Hugh McCormack Begbie CBE

Chief People Officer, Standard Life. For services to Business and Social Inclusion.

Professor Lorna Anne Dawson CBE

Principal Soil Scientist, The James Hutton Institute. For services to Soil and Forensic Science.

Dr Alison Janet Elliot CBE

Lately Associate Director, Centre for Theology and Public Issues, University of Edinburgh. For public service.

Professor Carole Hillenbrand CBE

Emerita Professor, Islamic History, University of Edinburgh and Professor, University of St Andrews. For services to the Understanding of Islamic History

Professor Robert Steele CBE

Senior Research Professor, Prevention, Early Detection and Treatment of Colorectal Cancer, University of Dundee. For services to Public Health.

Dr Anne Marie Colette Ferguson MBE

Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions, NHS Education for Scotland. For services to Health Education and Training.

Mr Iain Alexander Gunn MBE

Chief, Clan Gunn. For services to the Arts, Heritage and the Economy in Caithness.

Dr Bridget McCalister MBE

Founder and Secretary, The Driving Force. For services to charity in Scotland.

Mr Robert Craig MBE

Programme Director, Niassa Reserve, Mozambique. For services to conservation.

Mr Archibald Campbell Baird BEM

Curator, Heritage of Golf Museum, Gullane. For services to the History of Golf.

Related links

Staff recognised in Queen’s birthday honours