Speech Day and Prizegiving

Friday 8th March 2013

Guest Speaker: The Baroness Susan Greenfield CBE, FRCP (Hon)

The Baroness Susan Greenfield CBE, FRCP CBE, FRCP (Hon) is a British scientist, writer, broadcaster, and member of the House of Lords. Baroness Greenfield, whose specialty is the physiology of the brain, has worked to research and bring attention to Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Baroness Greenfield

Baroness Greenfield was an undergraduate at St Hilda’s College and subsequently took a DPhil in the Department of Pharmacology, Oxford University. She subsequently held research fellowships in the Department of Physiology Oxford, the College de France Paris, and NYU Medical Center New York.  In 1985 she was appointed University Lecturer in Synaptic Pharmacology, and Fellow and Tutor in Medicine, Lincoln College, Oxford. She became Professor of Synaptic Pharmacology in 1996 and has since been awarded 30 Honorary Degrees from British and foreign universities. From 1998 to 2010 she served as Director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, a post held jointly with her chair in Oxford. She currently holds Senior Research Fellowships at Oxford University, in the Department of Pharmacology and at Lincoln College.

Baroness Greenfield heads a multi-disciplinary research group exploring novel brain mechanisms linked to neurodegeneration, and has been the founding director of two spin-out companies developing  a novel approach to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. She also studies the physical basis of the mind: in 1995 she published her own theory of consciousness Journey to the Centres of the Mind (1995), which was developed substantially in The Private Life of the Brain (2000), and was just recently empirically validated by an independent clinical research group. Her general approach to research was the subject of a chapter in Ted Anton’s Bold Science (2000), a book profiling iconoclastic science pioneers. Also in 2000 she was elected to an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians. Further international recognition of her work has included the ‘Golden Plate Award’ (2003) from the Academy of Achievement, Washington, the L’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur (2003), from the French Government, and the 2010 Australian Medical Research Society Medal. In addition Baroness Greenfield disseminates science to non-academic sectors.  Her book The Human Brain: A Guided Tour (1997) ranked in the best-seller lists, and is still in print as a popular introduction to the brain for non-specialists.  Meanwhile Tomorrow’s People: How 21st Century technology is changing the way we think and feel (2003), explores human nature and its potential vulnerability in an age of technology. These ideas were expanded in her later book, ID: The Quest for Identity in the 21st Century (2009). The theme of unprecedented changes to contemporary human cognition, arguably comparable in its significance to Climate Change, is explored more recently in her book You and Me (2011), and developed further in a in depth exploration of the impact of technology on the brain in ‘Mind Change: How 21st Century Technology is Changing the way we Think and Feel’ to be published later in 2013 by Random House, New York. In addition she has written a novel ‘2121: A Tale form the Next Century’ to be published in June 2013, which describes a dystopia century ahead in the future and which has been entered for the Booker Prize.

In 1994 Baroness Greenfield was the first woman to give the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures and has subsequently made a wide range of TV and radio broadcasts such as Start the Week, Any Questions, Question Time and Desert Island Discs. In 1998 she received the Michael Faraday Medal from the Royal Society. She gave the BBC1 Dimbleby Lecture in 1999 and has written and presented a series for BBC Radio 4 on drugs, followed by a major six part TV series on the brain and mind, Brain Story, broadcast on BBC2 in 2000, and accompanied by a book of the same name. She has been profiled in a wide range of papers and magazines, voted one of the 100 most influential women in Britain by the Daily Mail in 2003, and ‘Woman of the Year’ by the Observer in 2000.  Baroness Greenfield held the Presidency of the Classical Association for 2003 – 2004 and in 2010 she was elected to a Fellowship of the Science Museum. She takes a keen interest in the impact of science on domestic and global policy and was a Forum Fellow at the World Economic Conference at Davos for ten years. She continues to expand her international activities, launching, for example, a charity for bringing novel scientific insights into the problems of the developing world. In response to a request in 2002 from the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, she authored the Greenfield Report SET Fair: A Report on Women in Science, Engineering, and Technology.  She was awarded a CBE in the Millennium New Year’s Honours List, and was granted a non-political Life Peerage in 2001.  In 2004 and 2005, she was ‘Thinker in Residence’ in Adelaide, reporting to the Premier of South Australia on applications of science for wealth creation. She was appointed Chancellor of Heriot Watt University 2005-2012.  In 2007 she addressed the European Parliament on the impact of technology and in the same year was elected into the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Earlier last year (2011) she joined the Advisory Board of the Indian Institute for Technology, Delhi.



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