Dame Julia Higgins Delivers Ashton Cary Lecture

Josie Giles
School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
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Dame Julia Higgins Delivers Ashton Cary Lecture

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ChBE proudly welcomed Professor and Dame Julia S. Higgins as the 21st Annual Ashton Cary Lecturer when she presented The Responsibility of Being a Scientist on January 18.

  • Dame Julia Higgins Dame Julia Higgins

ChBE proudly welcomed Professor and Dame Julia S. Higgins as the 21st Annual Ashton Cary Lecturer when she presented The Responsibility of Being a Scientist on January 18.

Dr. Higgins is the Director of the Graduate School of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Imperial College, London and a professor of Polymer Science in the Department of Chemical Engineering. She also serves as Foreign Secretary and Vice President of the Royal Society.

After receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Oxford, Dr. Higgins focused her research on the application of scattering techniques, notably neutron scattering, to the understanding of polymer behavior. She has enjoyed a distinguished career beginning with her appointment to the academic staff at Imperial College in 1976. She was named Professor in 1989 and served as Dean of the City and Guilds College (Engineering faculty) from 1993 to 1997.

Currently, Dr. Higgins is the Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, a Trustee of the National Gallery and the Daphne Jackson Trust, a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, and a foreign member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. Dr. Higgins was made a Dame of the British Empire in 2002 and a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur in 2003.

Dr. Higgins' lecture explored the various responsibilities of being a scientist in the modern world. She identified the issues surrounding the role of society as the key problem in the responsible science debate, noting that although society funds science indirectly through tax payments and public ownership of shares and investments, society has little control over the applications of science. She said that this relationship is "a mismatch of risk and control, and scientists need to encourage debate on serious scientific questions so that society's views can inform both political and commercial decisions being made in its name."

"Scientists have an absolute responsibility not only to do their science well but also to be open to the judgment and opinions of the community in whose name and at whose expense they are doing it," Dr. Higgins said. She said that open communication is the absolute key to removing the mystery that surrounds science for many members of the nonscientific community. All scientists have the responsibility to engage at an appropriate level in the dialogue developing between science and society. She offered this advice to all scientists: "Only by entering a real dialogue

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Ashton Cary, chbe, Chemical and Biolmolecular Engineering, Julia Higgins, Lectures
  • Created By: Josie Giles
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Jul 13, 2006 - 8:00pm
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:06pm