University of Cambridge’s Dame Ann Dowling receives Royal Medal for work on reducing aircraft noise
Dame Ann Dowling, professor of mechanical engineering and deputy vice chancellor at the University of Cambridge, has received the Royal Medal for her leading research on the reduction of combustion, aerodynamic noise and the design of aircraft, and her distinguished services to engineering.
She said: “I am surprised, delighted and very honoured to be awarded the Royal Medal and it is humbling to see the previous recipients. I have been lucky to work with some brilliant colleagues and students and this award recognises their achievements as much as it does mine.”
Her work has investigated quieter and more environmentally-friendly aviation and power. Gas turbines in aircraft and industry often operate on the verge of instability to reduce harmful emissions. Dame Ann applies theoretical modelling and experimental approaches, to find ways of reducing the excessive noise produced under such conditions.
She was the first ever female professor to be appointed at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering - which she led from 2009-14 - and was UK lead of the Silent Aircraft Initiative, a joint Cambridge-MIT project, which showed that ultra-low noise aircraft could be developed using available technology.
In 2014, she became the first female president of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
A fellow of the Royal Society, she is a member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology and conducted a review for the government of business-university research collaborations, called The Dowling Review, in 2015. She was made an OBE the same year.
Dr Michel Goedert, of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, also received a Royal Medal for his work on neurodegenerative diseases.
And four more University of Cambridge academics were honoured by the Royal Society in its 2019 awards.
Professor Gillian Griffiths was awarded the Buchanan Medal “for establishing the fundamental cell biological mechanisms that drive cytotoxic T-cell killing, laying the foundations for informed application of cancer immunotherapy”.
Cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) are precise, efficient killers in our immune system, able to destroy infected or cancerous cells without destroying healthy cells around them. Prof Griffith works to uncover the mechanisms controlling secretion from CTL and natural killer cells.
The other three medal recipients were awarded an awarded an associated prize lecture, which will be delivered at the Royal Society in London.
Dr Jacqueline Cole, head of the molecular engineering group at the Cavendish Laboratory, earned the Clifford Paterson Medal and Lecture “for the development of photo-crystallography and the discovery of novel high-performance nonlinear optical materials and light-harvesting dyes using molecular design rules”. Her research focus is on the design and functionalisation of new materials for optoelectronic applications.
The Leeuwenhoek Medal and Lecture was awarded to Professor Geoffrey Smith, head of the Department of Pathology at the University of Cambridge, “for his studies of poxviruses which has had major impact in wider areas, notably vaccine development, biotechnology, host-pathogen interactions and innate immunity”.
Professor Simon Schaffer was awarded the Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Medal and Lecture “for transforming understanding of the intellectual history of experimental science and his excellent communication of science in all media”.
A professor of the history of science, he studies the practices, materials and organisation of scientific inquiry between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries and is on the advisory board of the Science Museum.
More by this authorPaul Brackley