24 june 2009

Honorary degrees awarded at Encaenia


Six leading figures from the world of development, the arts and science have received honorary degrees at Encaenia, the annual honorary degree ceremony.

The novelist Philip Pullman, Fazle Hasan Abed, a Bangladeshi poverty campaigner and humanitarian, and Dr Santiago Calatrava-Valls, an architect and engineer, were made Doctors of Letters. Professor Erwin Hahn and Professor Barry Marshall were made Doctors of Science, and Dame Mitsuko Uchida, a Japanese-born classical pianist, was made a Doctor of Music.

The honorands and senior members of the University, dressed in academic robes, walked in procession from Brasenose College to the Sheldonian Theatre, via the Radcliffe Camera and the Bodleian Library Quadrangle.

More details about the honorands:

Degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa:

Mr Philip Pullman, CBE, MA Oxf, FRSL, is a novelist of international distinction. He is best known for the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, which is being made into a series of films. His novels, many of them aimed at children and young teenagers, have won a large number of literary prizes. These include two awards as Author of the Year, the Carnegie Medal, the Children’s Book of the Year Award and the Whitbread Book of the Year. A former school teacher, he taught in Oxford schools for more than a decade.

Mr Fazle Hasan Abed, is a Bangladeshi poverty campaigner and humanitarian who is the founder and chairman of BRAC (formerly known as Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee). He founded BRAC in 1972 after the war of independence from Pakistan, to provide relief and rehabilitation to returning war refugees in a remote area of the country before turning to long-term poverty alleviation. It now works in health, education and microfinance and is the world’s largest NGO.

Dr Santiago Calatrava-Valls, is an internationally recognized and award-winning Valencian Spanish architect, sculptor and structural engineer. He synthesises new technologies and new forms in all his projects, including memorable bridges in Seville and Bilbao, the airport in Bilbao and railway stations in Zurich and Lyon. He has designed the $2 billion World Trade Center Transport Hub which will stand on the site of Ground Zero.

Degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa:

Professor Erwin L Hahn, BSc, PhD, FRS, is best known for his discovery of the spin echo effect in 1949, giving rise to the fields of nuclear magnetic resonance, electron spin resonance and magnetic resonance imaging as we knew them today. His pioneering experiments have been recognised in many ways, most notably by the Wolf Prize in Physics, often considered the most prestigious prize in Physics after the Nobel Prize. Based at the University of California at Berkley, he is an Honorary Fellow of Brasenose.

Professor Barry Marshall, AC, MB BS, FRS, FRACP, shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2005 for his discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. During his research, no animal model could be found, so he took the step of drinking a culture of Helicobacter pylori, developed gastritis and took antibiotics and recovered. He is currently Clinical Professor of Microbiology and Clinical Professor of medicine at the University of Western Australia.

Honorands processing at Encaenia 2009.

Degree of Doctor of Music, honoris causa:

Dame Mitsuko Uchida is among the leading classical pianists of today. She first came to fame for her Mozart and has recorded all of his piano sonatas, a project which won her the Gramophone award. She focuses on the Viennese classics, since her first recital in Vienna at 14, and has lived in London for 30 years.

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