Staff receive New Year's Honours

A number of University staff and associates have been recognised in the New Year’s Honours List.

Edinburgh representatives honoured this year are from a broad range of disciplines.

Scientific pioneer

Professor Peter Higgs

Peter Higgs, Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics, was made a Companion Of Honour in recognition of his services to physics.

The recognition confers no title but is restricted to a select group of 65 for achievements in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry, or religion.

While teaching at the University in the 1960s Professor Higgs proposed a mechanism to explain why the most basic building blocks of the universe have mass.

His work led to last year's announcement of the discovery of a Higgs-like boson at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Geneva.

Research into genetics

David Porteous, Professor of Human Genetics and Molecular Medicine, was awarded an OBE for services to science.

Prof Porteous’ work focusses on applying knowledge emerging from the Human Genome Project to help identify risk factors for disease and new treatments for common disorders such as cystic fibrosis.

He has held the chair of Human Molecular Genetics and Medicine at Edinburgh since 1999. He joined the University in 1984.

Prof Porteous is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

Computing expert

Peter Buneman, Professor of Database Systems, was awarded an MBE for services to data systems and computing.

Prof Buneman is a key member of the Database Group, part of the University’s Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science, which studies theories that underlie computing systems.

He is the research director of the Digital Curation Centre, which provides expert advice and practical help to anyone in UK higher education and research wanting to store, manage, protect and share digital research data.

Prof Buneman’s career began at the University in 1969 as a lecturer in the School of Artificial Intelligence. He subsequently moved to the University of Pennsylvania before returning to the University’s School of Informatics in 2002.

Bringing science to all

Alan Walker, honorary fellow in the School of Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded an MBE for services to science engagement and science education in Scotland.

Mr Walker officially retired in 2009 but has continued working in public engagement activities. His current project is PP4SS, Particle Physics for Scottish Schools, which takes an understanding of particle physics to the general public as well as schools.

He is part of the University’s Particle Physics Experiment Group, which seeks to further understand the fundamental particles of nature and the forces governing their behaviour.

In recent years he has received or shared multiple awards to fund public outreach totalling in excess of £150,000.

Peter Higgs photo courtesy CERN/Claudia Marcelloni.