Julia Higgins

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Julia Higgins
Julia Stretton Downes

(1942-07-01) 1 July 1942 (age 78)[1]
Alma materSomerville College, Oxford (MA, DPhil)
Scientific career
ThesisInelastic scattering of neutrons from clathrate inclusion compounds and molecules in molecular sieves (1968)

Dame Julia Stretton Higgins DBE FRS FREng (née Downes; born 1 July 1942) is a polymer scientist. Since 1976 she has been based at the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London, where (since 2007) she is Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Investigator.[1][2][3][4][5][6]


Higgins was educated at the Ursuline High School, Wimbledon and Somerville College, Oxford where she was awarded Master of Arts and DPhil degrees.[7][8][9]


Higgins chaired the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME) from 2008–2012. She is also a former chair (1998–2003) of the Athena Project, which aims for the advancement of women in science, engineering and technology (SET) in Higher Education. Between 2003 and 2007, she was also chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Higgins was president of the Institution of Chemical Engineers 2002–3, and president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 2003–4. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1995[8] and was its foreign secretary 2001–06.[8]

She is a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Royal Academy of Engineering,[10] and the City and Guilds of London Institute, of which she is Vice-President. She is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics and of Somerville College, Oxford.[11]

She was appointed a CBE in 1996 before being named a dame in the 2001 Queen's Birthday Honours list.[12] Dame Julia replaced Professor Adrian Smith FRS as ACME Chair in September 2008 when Adrian became Director General of Science and Research at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. She holds honorary degrees from a number of UK universities and the University of Melbourne, Australia. Her scientific work has concentrated on the investigation of polymers with neutron scattering.[2] She co-authored a monograph on that field (Higgins & Benoit 1997).[13]

In April 2003 she became Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. She was succeeded by John Armitt on 1 April 2007. In June 2006 Higgins was appointed Principal of the Faculty of Engineering at Imperial College London. The Faculty of Engineering at Imperial College is one of the largest in the UK, comprising nine departments with 1,000 staff, over 4,200 students and an annual turnover of around £80 million. She is a member of the World Knowledge Dialogue Scientific Board, president of the ESPCI ParisTech Scientific Committee.[14]

She is a Patron of WISE, a charitable organisation that encourages young women to pursue careers in Science, Engineering and Construction.[15] as well as a member of the Advisory Council for the Campaign for Science and Engineering.[16]

She served as President of the Institute of Physics from 1 October 2017 to 30 September 2019.[17]

Awards and honours[edit]

Higgins was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1989. Her nomination reads:

After obtaining a first degree in Physics the candidate undertook research in the field of Physical Chemistry. She started using neutron scattering as a tool for investigating molecular structure and dynamics at this stage, first applying the techniques to the study of polymers while a post-doctoral research assistant in the Chemistry Department at Manchester. She was closely involved with the development of new techniques, their application in Polymer Science and the formation of an international community of scientists using these techniques while employed as a Physicist at the Institut Laue-Langevin, Grenoble.[8] Since Since [sic] returning to the UK at Imperial she has built an internationally recognised group. She is well-known for her studies of the dynamics of polymer molecules, especially in the bulk state and, more recently the thermodynamics and demixing processes in polymer blends. Dr Higgins has a wonderful ability for recognizing when a new area of polymer science is ripe for experimental study and has a row of 'firsts' to her credit.[18]

Other awards and honours include:


  1. ^ a b "HIGGINS, Dame Julia (Stretton)". Who's Who. ukwhoswho.com. 2014 (online edition via Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Julia Higgins's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  3. ^ "Dame Julia Higgins profile". Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  4. ^ Professor Dame Julia Higgins' profile Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Ingenia, September 2007
  5. ^ Symposium Opening speech by Julia Higgins 2008 on YouTube
  6. ^ The Royal Society's The Vision Committee's Vision for the future of Science and Maths Education on YouTube, chaired by Julia Higgins
  7. ^ Higgins, Julia Stretton (1968). Inelastic scattering of neutrons from clathrate inclusion compounds and molecules in molecular sieves. bodleian.ox.ac.uk (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford.
  8. ^ a b c d "Life Stories in association with the British Library" (PDF). Sounds.bl.uk. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  9. ^ a b Al-Khalili, Jim (2016). "Julia Higgins on polymers, interview on The Life Scientific". bbc.co.uk. London: BBC.
  10. ^ a b c "List of Fellows". Royal Academy of Engineering. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  11. ^ "Professor Dame Julia Higgins". Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  12. ^ "The Queen's birthday Honours". News.bbc.co.uk. 2001. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  13. ^ "Somerville College Oxford web-site". Some.ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  14. ^ "ESPCI Paris : Conseil scientifique international". Espci.fr. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 December 2008. Retrieved 22 December 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Advisory Council of the Campaign for Science and Engineering". Sciencecampaign.org.uk. Archived from the original on 28 August 2010. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  17. ^ "Dame Julia Higgins to be the IOP's next president-elect". Iop.org. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  18. ^ "EC/1995/11: Higgins, Dame Julia Stretton". London, UK: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 31 July 2014.
  19. ^ "Board of Trustees". National Gallery. 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  20. ^ "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". 1.hw.ac.uk. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "Imperial unveils historic portrait of leading female scientist". 3.imperial.ac.uk. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  23. ^ "State of the Nation: Science and mathematics education 14–19". royalsociety.org. 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  24. ^ "Sir Frank Whittle Medal". Retrieved 14 September 2020.