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Vice Chancellor awarded prestigious Lunar Society medal

Professor Julia King

The Lunar Society has awarded its prestigious annual ‘Lunar Society Medal’ to Aston's Vice Chancellor, Professor Julia King.

Prof King received the Award at the Society’s Annual General Meeting (9 November 2011) in recognition of her distinguished career and work in the public sector. 

Recipients of the Society’s Medal are those deemed to have significantly contributed towards  the ‘vigour’ of the West Midlands community. It is in this context that Julia received her Medal, with significant achievements and commitment to the fields of academia, business development and advisory work with Government.

Professor King became Vice-Chancellor of Aston in 2006, following a significant sixteen year career as an academic researcher and lecturer at Cambridge and Nottingham universities followed by a range of senior executive appointments at Rolls-Royce plc from 1994 to 2002. Julia was appointed Chief Executive of the Institute of Physics in 2002 and in 2004 returned to academia as Principal of the Engineering Faculty at Imperial College, London before joining Aston University.

Julia is currently a member of the Board of Universities UK and Chair of its Employability, Business & Industry Policy Network, and is Chair of the Higher Education Statistics Agency.  She is regularly called upon to advise Government on education and technology issues. Professor King is a non-executive director of the Department for Business Innovation & Skillsand a member of the Committee on Climate Change, and was appointed by the Prime Minister in November 2010 as the UK’s Low Carbon Business Ambassador. Julia was also a member of the independent review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance, led by Lord Browne.

Julia has advised the Ministry of Defence as Chair of the Defence Scientific Advisory Council and the Cabinet Office as a member of the National Security Forum, and was a non-executive member of the Technology Strategy Board for five years. She is a member of the Governing Board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and of the World Economic Forum Automotive Agenda Council.  She also led a Royal Academy of Engineering Working Party on ‘Educating Engineers for the 21st Century’ and plays an active role in encouraging women and young people to go into science and engineering-based careers. She was previously appointed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer 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. 

Her academic work includes over 160 papers on fatigue and fracture in structural materials and developments in aerospace and marine propulsion technology. 

Speaking on her receipt of the award, Julia King said; “I am extremely honoured to receive this prestigious award.The Lunar Society itself was formed in Birmingham in the eighteenth century by a remarkable group of pioneering individuals, who included in their number two of the greatest scientists and innovators in the history of England - Matthew Boulton and Josiah Wedgwood. Experimentation, innovation and healthy debate to stimulate ideas are the historic and current hallmarks of the Lunar Society- all values which I believe in, and which are very much championed at Aston University. In receiving this award I would like to acknowledge the contribution of my colleagues at Aston – I couldn’t do what I do without their stimulating inputs, ideas, challenges and their support. ” 

Previous recipients of the Lunar Society Medal include Sir Adrian Cadbury, Chairman of Cadbury and Cadbury Schweppes for 24 years and Sir Richard Marchant Knowles, a British politician known for his work in local government in Birmingham.

Words by Alex Earnshaw
11 November 2011

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