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King was born on 11 July 1954. She graduated from the University of Cambridge (New Hall) with a degree in natural sciences in 1972. Her PhD degree, also from Cambridge in 1978, was in fracture mechanics.
King continued at Cambridge as a Rolls-Royce research fellow for 2 years before taking a post as a lecturer at the University of Nottingham from 1980 to 1987. She then returned to Cambridge, holding a series of research and teaching positions from 1987 to 1994. In 1994 she moved to Rolls Royce where she held a number of senior positions. She was appointed chief executive of the Institute of Physics in September 2002. From September 2004 to December 2006 she was Principal of the Engineering Faculty at Imperial College London, after which she joined Aston University as Vice-Chancellor.
She has held a number of senior public appointments and works closely with Government as a member of the Ministerial Group on Manufacturing, the Committee on Climate Change, and the National Security Forum, and spent four years advising the Ministry of Defence as Chair of the Defence Science Advisory Council, and five years as a non-executive member of the Technology Strategy Board.
She is a member of the Governing Board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of Transportation. She was a Board member of the Engineering and Technology Board (now EngineeringUK) from 2004 to 2008. She led a Royal Academy of Engineering Working Party on "Educating Engineers for the 21st Century" which published its final report in June 2007.
King was appointed by Gordon Brown the then Chancellor of the Exchequer in March 2007 to lead the King Review to examine the vehicle and fuel technologies that, over the next 25 years, could help to reduce carbon emissions from road transport. The interim analytical report was published in October 2007, and the final recommendations in March 2008. She has published over 160 papers on fatigue and fracture in structural materials and developments in aerospace and marine propulsion technology, and has been awarded the Grunfeld, Bengough and Kelvin medals for her research.
In 1997 she was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering and was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to materials engineering in the 1999 Birthday Honours. She is a Liveryman of the Goldsmiths Company, an Honorary Graduate of Queen Mary, University of London, and an Honorary Fellow of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge, and of Cardiff University. In 2006 she presented the Higginson Lecture. On 5 May 2010, she discussed the challenges and opportunities that surround low-carbon transport when she delivered the Institution of Chemical Engineers 6th John Collier memorial lecture. She is the UK government's low carbon business ambassador.
- Debrett's People of Today Julia King
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- Julia King career biography
- King Review of low-carbon cars issues analytical report
- "'Airports Commission membership'". UK Government 2012.
- The Chemical Engineer, June 2010 page 24
- IChemE news 7 May 2010
- The London Gazette: . 16 June 2012.