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Honorary Degrees 2012

Honorary degrees 2012 - credit: Nigel Luckhurst

 Back Row l – r: Professor Sir Richard Gardner, Professor Peter Higgs, Lord Judge, Professor Phillip King, Professor Roger Tsien
Front Row l – r: The Chancellor, Professor Uta Frith, Alfred Brendel, Professor Brigitte Askonas, The Vice-Chancellor


Eight distinguished individuals were awarded Honorary Doctorates, the highest honour that the University can bestow, by the Chancellor at a congregation in the Senate House today.

 They are:
  • The Lord Judge of Draycote (Doctor of Law) - Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Honorary Fellow of Magdalene College
  • Dr Brigitte Askonas (Doctor of Science) - immunologist, Honorary Fellow of Girton and Murray Edwards Colleges
  • Professor Uta Frith (Doctor of Science) - developmental psychologist, Honorary Fellow of Newnham College
  • Professor Sir Richard Gardner (Doctor of Science) - physiologist, Honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College
  • Professor Peter Higgs (Doctor of Science) - theoretical physicist
  • Professor Roger Tsien (Doctor of Science) - Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Honorary Fellow of Gonville and Caius and Churchill Colleges
  • Professor Phillip King (Doctor of Letters) - sculptor, Honorary Fellow of Christ’s College
  • Mr Alfred Brendel (Doctor of Music) - pianist, Honorary Fellow of Peterhouse

The Right Honourable The Lord Judge


Lord Judge has been Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales since 2008. After reading history and law at Magdalene College, of which he is now an Honorary Fellow, he was called to the Bar by the Middle Temple in 1963. Made a High Court Judge in 1988 and a Lord Justice of Appeal and member of the Privy Council in 1996, Igor Judge was Deputy Chief Justice from 2003-05, and President of the Queen’s Bench Division 2005-08. Created Baron Judge of Draycote in 2008, he is President of the Selden Society, founded in 1887 to promote the study of English legal history.

Professor Brigitte Askonas

An immunologist, Brigitte Askonas was an undergraduate at McGill in Canada before coming to Girton College as a graduate student in Biochemistry. She is now an Honorary Fellow of Girton, and also of Murray Edwards College. After obtaining her PhD, she joined the National Institute for Medical Research in London in 1953, rising to become Head of the Immunology Division from 1977 to 1988. Professor Askonas was a founding Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and is Visiting Professor of Leucocyte Biology, Imperial College London.

Professor Uta Frith

A developmental psychologist, Uta Frith was born in Germany and studied History of Art and Psychology at the Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken before coming to Britain and completing a PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. She is known for her research on autism and dyslexia, and for pioneering the study of Asperger’s Syndrome in the United Kingdom. Professor of Cognitive Development at University College London 1996-2006, and now Professor Emerita, she is a Visiting Professor at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. Professor Frith is an Honorary Fellow of Newnham College.

Professor Sir Richard Gardner

Sir Richard Gardner was an undergraduate and then a research student at St Catharine’s College, of which he is now an Honorary Fellow. A leading physiologist and expert on stem cells, he was first appointed to a University Lectureship in Oxford in 1973, and on his retirement in 2008 was the Edward Penley Abraham Research Professor of the Royal Society in the Department of Zoology. Knighted in 2005, he is Academic Visitor at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology in Oxford, and an Honorary Professor in the Department of Biology in the University of York.

Professor Peter Higgs

A theoretical physicist, Peter Higgs was an undergraduate and then a research student at King’s College London. After completing his PhD, he held posts at University College and Imperial College London, before being appointed to a University Lectureship at the University of Edinburgh in 1960. He retired there as Professor of Theoretical Physics in 1996, and is now Professor Emeritus. His research proposing the existence of a new elementary particle, the ‘Higgs boson’, triggered the hunt for it, assisted by the construction of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

Professor Roger Tsien

A biochemist and one of three recipients of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Roger Tsien was born in the United States and came to Britain as a Research Student at Churchill College. After completing, his PhD in 1977, he was then a Research Fellow at Gonville and Caius College until 1981, and he is now an Honorary Fellow of both Colleges. An Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1982 to 1989, Professor Tsien then moved to the University of California, San Diego, where he is Professor of Pharmacology and Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Professor Phillip King


Phillip King studied modern languages at Christ’s College 1954-57, where he is now an Honorary Fellow, and then sculpture at St Martin’s School of Art. A leading member of a generation that radically changed British sculpture in the late 1960s, he taught at St Martin’s from 1959, and was Professor of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art 1980-90, where he is now Professor Emeritus. Professor of Sculpture at the Royal Academy Schools 1990-99, he served as President of the Academy from 1999 until 2004. Professor King was appointed a CBE in 1975.

Mr Alfred Brendel

Born in Czechoslovakia, but resident in London since 1971, the pianist Alfred Brendel’s professional career has extended over sixty years, during which he has performed with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors. Known for his cerebral and disciplined approach to music, and for his wide-ranging intellect, he retired from public performance at the end of 2008. Appointed an Honorary KBE in 1989, Mr Brendel gave a Darwin Lecture in Cambridge in 1984, and in May 2011 was the inaugural Humanitas Visiting Professor, in Chamber Music. He is an Honorary Fellow of Peterhouse.

Find out more about honorary degrees at the University here.

Article from the University's News website, 20/06/12.