Cambridge figures’ contributions recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021

The achievements and contributions of individuals from the University of Cambridge and its Colleges have been recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list.


Sir John Aston, Harding Professor of Statistics in Public Life, has been knighted for services to Statistics and Public Policymaking.

A world-renowned statistician working in the Department of Pure Maths and Mathematical Statistics, Sir John has worked to promote trust in the use of statistics and quantitative evidence. As Home Office Chief Scientific Adviser, he championed the use of science and research across the department, and his work has contributed to both national security and public safety. He has played a central role in the Home Office’s response to COVID-19, ensuring the Home Secretary was briefed and the latest scientific advice was available to be used.

Sir John’s analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data, which gives information about brain activity, has become a standard reference, supporting scientific research.

Sir Andy Hopper, Professor of Computer Technology in the Department of Computer Science and Technology, has been knighted for services to Computer Technology. He is Treasurer and Vice-President of the Royal Society, and has made a major impact on the modern digital world through pioneering work in computer systems and architectures.

The work of Sir Andy and his team on computing and sustainability is helping to tackle global problems such as biodiversity and climate change. He has a strong commitment to diversity: as Head of the Department of Computer Science and Technology in Cambridge for 14 years, he helped increase the number of women appointed to the staff from a handful to over half. The culture that was created also helped to establish more than 200 start-up businesses.

“The University of Cambridge and the Cambridge Cluster have provided a wonderfully collaborative and flexible framework within which I have had the good fortune to work for 47 years,” he said.


Professor William Sutherland, who holds the Miriam Rothschild Chair in Conservation Biology in the Department of Zoology, and is a Professorial Fellow at St Catharine’s College, has been awarded a CBE for services to Evidence-based Conservation.

Professor Sutherland is one of the world’s leading conservation scientists, carrying out extensive research on ecological processes, predicting the impacts of environmental change, horizon scanning to identify forthcoming issues and developing novel processes for integrating science and policy. He runs the Biosecurity Research Initiative (BioRISC) at St Catharine’s, and regularly advises government as well as conservation organisations, such as Natural England and The National Trust. Professor Sutherland, who was President of the British Ecological Society, was also part of a team that created the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, which works to identify and research global environmental problems, finding solutions and delivering on-the-ground improvements for species and habitats worldwide.

Professor James Wood, Head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine, Alborada Professor of Equine and Farm Animal Science, and Fellow of Wolfson College, has been awarded an OBE for services to Veterinary Science.

Professor Wood’s research focuses on zoonoses – diseases transmissible from animals to humans – in particular bovine tuberculosis in the UK, Ethiopia and India, and its impact on milk-producing cattle and buffalo. His work also focuses on wildlife-associated emerging viral infections in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Ghana. Professor Wood is on Defra’s Science Advisory Council and he is a Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Dr Shaun Fitzgerald, Director at the Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge, and Fellow of Girton College, has received an OBE for services to the COVID-19 Response.

Dr Fitzgerald was called upon in Spring 2020 to help with the SAGE Environmental Modelling Group. He co-authored the CIBSE Emerging from Lockdown guidance, which included advice on ventilation in buildings. He is also serving on a range of other government bodies as part of the response to COVID-19, such as the DCMS Venues Steering Group, the Science Board to the Events Research Programme (which included the 2021 events at the Circus Nightclub in Liverpool and FA Cup Final), and the Aerosol Generating Procedures panel.

Dr Arif Ahmed, University Reader in Philosophy, and Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, has received an MBE for services to Education.

Dr Ahmed is recognised for his contribution to the University Statement on Freedom of Speech. He raised concerns that including a requirement to be respectful of people’s opinions and identities risked legitimising future censorship, which he saw as a threat to the free speech the University was trying to protect. An amendment was put forward stating that free speech should operate without fear of intolerance, which, along with other amendments, was passed by the Regent House – the University’s governing body. Cambridge’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Toope said the outcome was an emphatic reaffirmation of free speech in the University.

Amika George, a History undergraduate at Murray Edwards College, received an MBE for services to Education. Amika started the not-for-profit Free Periods campaign group, having read that some girls in the UK were missing school because they could not afford to buy sanitary products. She launched an online petition lobbying the government to provide free tampons and sanitary pads for girls from low income families. The campaign has gained considerable momentum and support, and in 2019, the government committed to funding period products in every single state school and college in England. The scheme began in 2020.

Aimee Durning, a Teaching Assistant at the University of Cambridge Primary School, has received an MBE for services to Education.

Aimee used the power of stories and reading to help young people and their families cope during the pandemic, through a book club she had previously set up, making sure they had teaching resources, including – of course – books. Aimee also set up a regional network for TAs in the East of England to share best practices and develop their skills, particularly in helping vulnerable children, and has written a series of books on the subject.  She plans to use her MBE as a platform to extend the TA network to a national level, to help support their work in hundreds more schools.