Sir William Wakeham: 2011—2012

Sir William Wakeham: 2011—2012

William Wakeham was born in Bristol in 1944 and studied physics at Exeter University at both undergraduate and doctoral level. He then spent a postdoctoral period at Brown University in Rhode Island, USA before returning to the UK and taking up a lectureship in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London. In 1983 he became a professor and five years later, in 1988, took on the role of Head of Department.

His career at Imperial College continued through to 2001 and for a five year period from 1996 he was Pro-Rector (Research), Deputy Rector and Pro-Rector (Resources) at the university. During this time he oversaw the College's merger with a series of medical schools and also stimulated its entrepreneurial activities.

He holds a higher doctorate from the University of Exeter and honorary degrees from Lisbon University, Exeter and Southampton Solent University, is a Fellow of Imperial College London and has received a number of international awards for his contributions to research in transport processes.

In 2001 he moved to take on the role of Vice Chancellor at the University of Southampton, a position he held for eight years before retiring in September 2009.

He became a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1997, and is also a Vice President and its International Secretary.

His association with the professional science and engineering organisations is demonstrated by his Fellowship of IChemE, the Institution of Engineering & Technology and the Institute of Physics.

In addition to his roles within the universities, he has also been Chair of the University & Colleges Employers Association and the Employers Pension Forum and a member of the Board of SEEDA. In 2008 he was asked to lead a Review of Physics as a discipline in the UK for Research Councils UK and in 2010 completed a review of the effectiveness of full economic costing of research for RCUK/UUK.

He is a Council Member of the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council and Chair of its Audit Committee. He is also a Visiting Professor at Imperial College London, Instituto Superior Tecnico in Lisbon, and the University of Exeter, as well as Chair of the Exeter Science Park Company, non-executive director of Ilika plc, Chair of the South East Physics Network, Trustee of the Royal Anniversary Trust and the Rank Prizes Fund.

He was made a Knight Bachelor in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 2009 for services to chemical engineering and higher education.

View the text of Sir William Wakeham's Presidential Address

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