Cambridge University professor is first female engineer to join Order of Merit

PUBLISHED: 13:57 01 August 2016 | UPDATED: 09:33 05 August 2016

Dame Ann Dowling, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Cambridge

Dame Ann Dowling, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Cambridge

ILIFFE

Only the tenth woman to join, she will be remembered alongside the likes of Florence Nightingale, Mother Theresa and Prof. Dorothy Hodgkin.

Dame Ann Dowling, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Cambridge, served as head of the Department of Engineering from 2009-14 and is currently a deputy vice-chancellor. She has been president of the Royal Academy of Engineering since 2014.

A world authority on combustion and acoustics with almost 40 years of research on aeronautics and energy behind her, she was admitted to the Order of Merit for exceptional service in advancing the field of mechanical engineering, particularly in reducing aircraft noise and pollutants from combustion.

Dame Ann said: “I was surprised and delighted to be appointed to the Order of Merit. It is a particular pleasure to share the honour of being appointed along with Lord Darzi and Sir James Dyson, who are also distinguished Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering. The variety of our work, united by the common thread of engineering, demonstrates the vital role of this field in our modern society.

“It has been an immense privilege today to meet Her Majesty The Queen. I feel very humbled to receive such a special honour that has been awarded to so many wonderfully talented people over the years.”

She was appointed with Sir James Dyson and Lord Darzi, who are also distinguished Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and Paul Hamlyn, chair of surgery at Imperial College London.

Dame Ann received the accolade from the Queen in a private audience at Buckingham Palace. The Order of Merit, often referred to as the ‘world’s most exclusive club’, is limited to only 24 living members at any one time.

Founded in 1902 by King Edward VII, the Order of Merit recognises exceptional service towards the advancement of the arts, learning, literature and science.

Other notable female members include Baroness Thatcher, historian Dame Veronica Wedgwood, social worker and physician Dame Cicely Saunders and opera singer Dame Joan Sutherland. She joins the first female House of Commons Speaker, Baroness Boothroyd as the only women in the current club, which also includes Sir David Attenborough, David Hockney and Sir Roger Penrose, as well as The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales.

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