Professor Sheila Rowan

IOP names three new Honorary Fellows

Three IOP Fellows – professors Sheila Rowan and Roy Sambles and Sir Peter Williams – have been made Honorary Fellows of the IOP, the highest honour that the Institute can confer, it was announced today (14 August).

Honorary Fellowship is for exceptional individuals who have contributed in various ways to physics or the work of the Institute. The three join 59 other distinguished Honorary Fellows and the honour will be conferred on them by IOP President Professor Dame Julia Higgins at our Awards Dinner in November.

Professor Sheila Rowan

Professor Sheila Rowan has been made an Honorary Fellow for her sustained, innovative and key contributions towards the discovery of gravitational radiation over the last 27 years. While working between Glasgow and Stanford Universities her work has, with colleagues, contributed to a significant improvement in the sensitivity of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and other detectors, in part due to a new method of suspending the detector mirrors, using fused silica fibres. This was developed by Sheila and colleagues and these suspensions were critical in enabling the discovery of gravitational radiation by the LIGO/Virgo collaboration, which was announced in 2016. Currently, her research interests include the search for mirror coatings of lower thermal noise, essential for future detectors now at the planning stage.

As one of the leading scientists of the LIGO collaboration she serves on its crucial Detection Committee, reviewing and checking evidence for whether a result is real or not – and she chairs the Gravitational Wave International Committee of project directors, which is steering the future of gravitational wave astronomy worldwide.

Professor Roy SamblesProfessor Roy Sambles has been made an Honorary Fellow for his contributions in pure and applied physics, and as a superb ambassador for physics through outreach and an outstanding President of the IOP. He has made significant contributions to our understanding of the melting process, spin waves in metals, resistivity of thin metal films, molecular rectification, liquid crystal optics, plasmonics and microwave and acoustic metamaterials. Most recently, Roy has focused his research interests on metamaterials and their application to microwaves and sound, and since 2014 he has led an EPSRC Doctoral Training Centre in Metamaterials.

He has served on the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Defence Science Advisory Committee and as the only academic scientist on the board of the Counter Terrorism Centre. He was a member of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework Panel for Physics and was recently appointed a Distinguished Visitor to the National Physical Laboratory. His outreach activities over the last seven years have reached more than 2,500 people and in 2013–17, when he was IOP President Elect, then President, he made some invaluable changes to the way the Institute works and interacts with its community.

Sir Peter Williams

Sir Peter Williams has been made an Honorary Fellow for his outstanding contribution to business in physics-based technology commercialisation and to the field of physics education, and for his considerable services to the IOP. As Chief Executive, then chairman, of Oxford Instruments, he oversaw a period of rapid growth at one of the pioneers of medical imaging technology, which became a world leader. Since 2015 he has been chairman of Kromek Group plc, where his unique combination of scientific knowledge and boardroom experience makes him equally comfortable talking to people in R&D and fellow directors.

He has authored important reports on science education at school and university level and has held senior posts at the Engineering and Technology Board, the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and the National Physical Laboratory. He has also been Master of St Catherine’s College, Oxford and Chancellor of the University of Leicester, and was IOP President in 2000–02. In 2005 he received the IOP’s Glazebrook Medal and Prize for outstanding contributions to leadership in a physics context.


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