Birmingham’s latest Nobel Prize winners Professor David Thouless and Professor Mike Kosterlitz are among those receiving honorary degrees from the University of Birmingham this year.
They are joined by City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra music director Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and actor / producer Tony Garnett, as seven honorary graduates join more than 5,000 students collecting their degrees at a series of 22 ceremonies in the University’s iconic Great Hall – running until 13 July. They include:
Tony Garnett spent 50 years working on films for the BBC and for the cinema, in the UK and in Hollywood, including ‘Kes’ and ‘Cathy Come Home’. He is now a writer with three novels and a memoir published. Tony was born and brought up in Birmingham.
Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla was named Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in February 2016. Mirga follows in the footsteps of Sir Simon Rattle, Sakari Oramo and Andris Nelsons. She has electrified audiences as a guest conductor with numerous orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic; the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra; the Deutsche Radiophilharmonie; the Danish National Symphony Orchestra; and the Orchestra of the Komische Oper in Berlin.
Joan McGregor is a specialist in conflict transformation with over 25 years’ experience in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. She works with people who are living and working in conflict and violence to find ways of breaking cycles of violence. Joan’s expertise includes participatory approaches to conflict analysis, strategic planning, mediation and negotiation, conflict sensitivity tools and methodologies, monitoring and appraisal, lesson learning, training of trainers, and counselling.
Professor Kosterlitz received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2016. He was a Research Fellow in high energy physics before becoming Lecturer and then Reader at the University of Birmingham from 1970 to 1982. He is Professor of Physics at Brown University, Rhode Island, USA. During his time at Birmingham, he collaborated with Professor David Thouless on phase transitions driven by topological defects – work which later led to their Nobel Prize.
Professor Thouless received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2016. He carried out post-doctoral work at Birmingham, before becoming Professor of Mathematical Physics in 1965. While at Birmingham, his collaboration with Professor Mike Kosterlitz led to their Nobel Prize-winning work on the theory of phase transitions in two dimensions. His contributions to condensed matter theory have been recognized by many awards.
Sarah-Jane was appointed Chief Operating Officer at Birmingham Children’s Hospital in December 2007 and Chief Executive Officer in March 2009. Under her leadership, the Trust was named ‘Provider Trust of the Year’ by the Health Service Journal in 2015, and rated Outstanding by the CQC in February 2017.
In 2015, Sarah-Jane took on the additional role of Chief Executive of Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust, before going on to integrate the two Trusts to create the first Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust in Europe, just 18 months later. She is also Chair of the NHS England Maternity Transformation Programme Board, which aims to make maternity care across England safer, and give women greater control and choice.
Dame Cilla Snowball joined AMV BBDO in 1992 as the advertising agency’s first New Business Director. Twenty five years later, she now oversees the three companies that comprise the AMV Group in the UK – AMV BBDO, Proximity and Redwood. Cilla sits on the boards of BBDO Worldwide and Derwent London plc and chairs the Women's Business Council. She was awarded the CBE in the 2009 New Year Honours list for services to the advertising industry.
- The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries.