Honorary Graduates and Fellows
To find out more about our Honorary Graduates please open the exapandable boxes below:
Vicki Hanson (2017)Vicki Hanson (2017)
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of computing at Newcastle we were given the opportunity to nominate for an honorary degree a distinguished computer scientist, with strong links to Newcastle. We're delighted to say that as a result, Professor Vicki Hanson was awarded an Honorary Degree on the 12th July.
Vicki Hanson is Distinguished Professor of Computing at Rochester Institute of Technology, Professor and Chair of Inclusive Technologies at the University of Dundee’s School of Computing, UK, and IBM Research Staff Member Emeritus. Previously, she was a research staff member and manager at IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, research associate at Haskins Laboratories, and postdoctoral Fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. She is also President of the Association for Computer Machinery, which has over 100,000 members.
Her field of study is human-computer interaction, where she specialises in accessibility of technology for people with disabilities, the ageing population, and related research ethics.
Tony Hey (2007)Tony Hey (2007)
As part of our 50th anniversary of Computing at Newcastle University celebrations, the following speech was given by the Unviersity Public Orator ahead of Tony Hey being awarded an honorary doctorate.
" 'All the world's a stage ... and one man in his time plays many parts'. Of no-one is this truer than of Professor Tony Hey. He does indeed stride the world stage, and has successively been at the forefront of particle physics, computing science, research programme direction, the popularization of 'hard science', and the stimulation of innovation in the world's foremost software company.
Notwithstanding his thirty-one years of service to the University of Southampton in a succession of ever more senior academic posts, Tony's most recent appointment (as Corporate Vice President of Technical Computing at Microsoft) actually marks the sixth time he has set up camp in the United States: one gets the impression that only the QE2 might exceed his record for round-trips between Southampton and the USA!
The roots of his long-term fascination with America were laid immediately after he completed his PhD at Oxford, when he took up a Harkness Fellowship at Caltech to work at the forefront of particle physics with two Nobel Prize Winners: Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann. The spirit of openness, drive and adventure with which his American colleagues were imbued made a lasting impression on Tony.
After leaving the USA, Tony spent two years in Geneva as a Research Fellow at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Later to become the birthplace of the worldwide web, in the early 1970s CERN was rapidly expanding its unique facilities for probing subatomic particles, and Tony worked in a team which developed the theoretical under-pinning for much of modern quantum physics.
Following a highly successful decade of research and teaching in Theoretical Physics at Southampton University, Tony bravely decided to switch disciplines to computer science. Few career academics have the courage to make such a switch: it entails leaving your established reputation behind, to become a newcomer in another scientific circle. It means jumping to a lower rung on a parallel ladder of learning; you might trip, or even miss the other ladder altogether...
The inspiration for this courageous move came during a second sojourn at Caltech, where in 1981 Tony attended a colloquium by Carver Mead on the future of silicon chip technology. It was Mead's work which paved the way for what is now known as "Moore's Law", which states that the power of microprocessors will double, and the costs of computation will be halved, every 18 months. This Law has borne the test of time, and its operation has transformed all of our lives. Tony was inspired to explore parallel computing technologies for large-scale scientific simulations. Three years later he was building one of the world's first parallel supercomputers; two years after that, his transition to computer science was consummated in his appointment to a Chair in the Department of Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton. He subsequently became Head of this Department, before moving on to act as Dean of Engineering and Applied Science.
Oscar Wilde claimed that "Life imitates art". Many years later, in the light of new technology, Woody Allen opined that "Life doesn't imitate art; it imitates bad television". While it would not be fair to claim that Tony Hey's life has imitated either art or bad television, reflection on his modus operandi and accomplishments does call to mind the behaviour of a delocalised electron: a single entity which can change the properties and behaviour of a much larger system simply by its presence or absence; an entity which can move almost at the speed of light when confronted with a vacuum.
Tony has, in fact, long been accustomed to moving at great speed. For many years, he and his wife Jessie were both accomplished marathon runners, and their family holidays always include some strenuous outdoor exertion. His jet-setting lifestyle at one stage prompted Tony to calculate his average orbital velocity around the planet. Yet travel has not always been without hindrance. Seated on the platform at Reading station one day, engrossed in e-mails on his Blackberry, Tony glanced up to see his train arrive. He quickly jumped aboard. It was only as the train began to pull out of the station that he looked out of the window to see his bag still standing by the side of the bench on the platform. After a momentary hesitation he pulled the emergency cord and brought the train to a screeching halt. It is testament to his powers of persuasion that he managed to convince the irate train staff that his actions had in fact spared them the hassle and cost of the security alert which an unattended bag would otherwise have caused!
Tony's transition from Theoretical Physics to Computer Engineering resembled the phenomenon of quantum tunnelling, in which, as explained by Tony's mentor Richard Feynman, "it is possible to sneak quickly across a region which is illegal energetically". So successful was Tony's 'quantum tunnelling' between disciplines that, in 2001, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering: an accolade which distinguishes him as one of the top 1000 engineers currently living. Given this stature, it is no surprise that it was to Tony Hey that the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council turned in the same year when they needed a champion for their ground-breaking £35m e-Science Programme.
Tony soon discovered that the starting point for this programme was essentially a blank sheet of paper. With great inventiveness, he weaved together the best ideas from the US and elsewhere, filled in the gaps, and created the blueprint for the Grid, a network of computational research infrastructure which is now the envy of the world.
This year our University celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of our internationally-leading School of Computing Science. Thanks in no small part to the e-Science initiative led by Tony, computing science in this University continues to flourish ever more vigorously. The University hosts the North East Regional e-Science Centre, through which research funding of more than £20M has already placed the power of parallel supercomputing at the service of a wide range of research fields, extending far beyond computing science per se to embrace transport engineering, chemical engineering, neuroscience, human genetics, ageing and health, and even the analysis of dance in our Culture Lab!
In recognition of the outstanding contribution he has made in establishing the foundations for the quantum age in which we are now living, I now ask you, Mr Chancellor, to bestow upon Professor Tony Hey the Degree of Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa."
Fred B. Schneider (2003)Fred B. Schneider (2003)
The following is the University's Public Orator's speech ahead of Fred B. Schneider being awarded his honorary doctorate:
"A few days ago we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA. The subsequent breaking of the genetic code and the completion of the Human Genome Project have been hailed by some as the greatest scientific advance in centuries. But that advance was only possible because of another equally profound development; that great British invention the computer. Over the last 30 years the computer has moved from a glorified adding machine the size of a small house to immensely powerful tiny devices at the core of every aspect of our lives. Nowhere is that more obvious than in our academic world. Every aspect of teaching and research rests on the computer and most academics spend hours every day at a computer screen. Our University has one of Europe's most prestigious computer science departments. Each year we hold a prestigious International Seminar of Computer Science and on two occasions we have been honoured by the presence as a speaker of Fred Barry Schneider, Professor of Computer Science at Cornell University in New York since 1993.
Fred Schneider has lived and breathed computing science since his high school meeting with some old computer equipment. He was one of the pupils with, as he put it, a bent toward puttering with electronics. He was at first preoccupied by the fancy wiring and entered Cornell University as an undergraduate in electrical engineering. A year later he switched to a 'self-defined' double major, computer science and electrical engineering.
He was in effect the first undergraduate at that university in this new field since it had been taught only as a postgraduate qualification up to that point. In 1975 he went from Cornell to State University of New York at Stony Brook where he earned a Master's and then a PhD in the subject. Having started graduate school expecting to head into industry he realised research was too much fun and decided to seek a faculty position. To his surprise and delight his alma mater, Cornell University, one of the world's leading computer science departments, offered him a faculty position.
His prolific career as an author of scientific articles and books began 25 years ago and now includes over 120 important publications and conference proceedings. Early forays into print included his report based on his presentation in Jerusalem in 1978 entitled 'On language restrictions to ensure deterministic behaviour in concurrent systems'. It is noteworthy that his titles become more accessible as one reads down his publications such as a paper in press called 'Tolerating Malicious Gossip' or his recent books. On Concurrent Programming and Trust in Cyberspace. The former is now cited as essential reading for those involved in the field while the latter had its origins in the Committee on Trustworthy Computing. This group, which he chaired, was established by the US National Research Council. He is Editor in Chief of Distributed Computing, on the editorial board of six key research journals and Managing Editor for a prestigious book series published by Springer Verlag.
It is clear that Fred Schneider has earned the respect of his peers. He has been nominated for the Distinguished Service award by ACM, the world's first and largest society for computer scientists. In 2001 the UK EPSRC, one of our government research councils, invited him to chair their international review of Computer Science. He is a member of the influential Programming Methodology Working Group of the International Federation of Information Processing Societies and has served on or chaired over 30 international Programme Committees. Last but most certainly not least he has the confidence of industry. He is an adviser, among others, to Intel, IBM, Microsoft, JavaSoft and the genetic research company deCODE Genetics.
As I prepared this presentation my wife told me that her sister's credit card details had been stolen following a web-based purchase. I was brought back to the ubiquitous role of the computer and the pivotal importance of security, not least in my own field of genetic testing. Not only do we have the threat of criminals but now we also have the threat of terrorism. I'm sure others share my comfort in knowing that Fred is chief scientist for New York's recently created cybersecurity Griffiss Institute for Information Assurance. We need Fred Schneider and others like him to protect the fabric of our twenty-first century society. We need him as a communicator and teacher. His book, A Logical Approach to Discrete Math published 10 years ago has become a popular teaching aid in the development of a new generation of defenders of cyberspace.
By now many will have begun to imagine Fred as the first officer on the Starship Enterprise so I felt we should try to see something of the man behind this towering reputation. My niece was able to help by hacking into his home computer to discover that there are clear human characteristics. For example, he enjoys Sondheim musicals, jazz, food and wine. He loves collecting, though the maps given away by car hire firms is different. Having earned extra income as professor-at-large in Tromso University, Norway he bought a sailing boat to which he gave the name Professor@Large. His perfectionist nature extends to investment of considerable time in every aspect of his boat's anatomy.
It is clear that there are many demands on Fred Schneider's time and his department back at Cornell misses him. Indeed, they have afforded him God-like status; God is everywhere while Fred is everywhere except Cornell University. They are, nevertheless, delighted by the honour he receives today. It is to be hoped that this honorary degree further enhances the working relationship between our universities.
Mr Chancellor, for his outstanding academic contribution to the field of computer science and recognition of his international status as a guardian of the silicon foundations of our world, I ask you to confer on Fred Barry Schneider the degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa."
Public Orator: Professor John Burn
George Metakides (1997)George Metakides (1997)
The following is the University's Public Orator's speech ahead of George Metakides being awarded an honorary doctorate.
"Many academics are envious of those who combine outstanding scholarly gifts with the judicious deployment of political skills. Certainly, there are few academics who rival Professor George Metakides' ability to take bold initiatives in academic research while shrewdly turning even the most forbidding political prospect into an advantage.
At an early age, George Metakides was reluctant to accept a negative answer from those who claimed to be in authority over him. While still a primary schoolboy his response to the cancellation of a planned school picnic was to march his fellow pupils to a local football pitch where they duly enjoyed the picnic. It is said that this act of defiance led to his expulsion from that school, but whether the ultimate sanction was applied or not George Metakides is a born leader and it is as an inspiring leader, not only in the field of mathematical logic - he holds the Chair of Logic at the University of Patras in his native Greece - but as Director of ESPRIT, the European Union-funded Information Technology research programme that we honour him today.
His achievements have been remarkable, particularly since from the start he had to fight hard to achieve the resources he believed necessary in order to achieve his purposes. It was against strong opposition that he won an allocation of five percent of the ESPRIT budget towards academic research. Through his powers of persistent and intelligent persuasion this sum rose within a few years to ten per cent and the sums of money involved are far from trivial. The annual ESPRIT budget for long term research is now something like fifty million pounds.
Professor Metakides has also been responsible for building up an impressive team of officers and research workers. As is appropriate for someone who loves fishing as a recreation he has been an astute fisher of men. He is a shrewd judge of character, and his capacity to woo a potential colleague is legendary. Once convinced that someone will add the right blend of qualities to the team he uses every legitimate form of inducement to ensure that persons of ability and promise are appointed to the post most suitable for the deployment of their skills. Even the choice of a speaker at a formal dinner is known to have been exploited by Professor Metakides for the attainment of a particular and necessary end. When his masters in Brussels were hesitant about the virtues of networking he invited a speaker from the Computing Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to address the ESPRIT Dinner. It was of course purely coincidental that the speaker extolled the virtues of networking, and that what Professor Metakides had desired duly came to pass. On such occasion a wistful but contented smile is known to cross his face.
But while he's astute in promoting his own research activities and in making sure that the research with which he is specially identified is properly resourced, he has also been active in doing everything possible to facilitate the research of those less happily placed. He is concerned for the wellbeing of the entire European scientific community, and he has been particularly eager to help those in the former Communist bloc who lack the advantages of their colleagues in the West and who have faced immense problems since the breakdown of the former system in the East. Not only has Professor Metakides created a research funding scheme on the model of the National Science Foundation in the United States of America, he has also provided effective support for scientists in Eastern Europe, taking particular care with regard to the provision of equipment and the enhancement of academic salaries, and doing this only when scientists in Eastern Europe have been properly and fully consulted about their real needs and urgent requirements.
It is evident therefore that George Metakides has a broad and imaginative vision of what scientific research entails and how it should be supported. But he is just as eager to relate research to the needs of industry. Through his efforts, many leading European information technology research groups have become partners in the industry-related ESPRIT Programme, so that the findings of academic research may be speedily and effectively applied to the needs of industry. Professor Metakides has had a strong influence on thinking in Brussels about the future information society. He is now in charge of ESPRIT as a whole, covering much more than information technology, and he master-minded the G7 Summit Meeting at Corfu at which the Information Society Initiative first received international political support from Heads of State.
Within the European Community and throughout Europe few men have contributed so much as Professor Metakides to the advancement of knowledge, the application of knowledge to contemporary needs, and the thoughtful review of future developments. Part of the secret of his success is his resourcefulness in evading the technicalities and delays of the Brussels bureaucracy. When ESPRIT badly needed additional accommodation he was told that if he acted through normal procedures he would have to wait for two years. Professor Metakides listened attentively, but acting on his own initiative arranged for the service contract rental of an entire building and in so doing got his extra space. When the internal auditors called for an explanation Professor Metakides just happened to be away on holiday. He got his building and he escaped censure.
Professor Metakides is the product of a broad education. A Greek by birth, he received his M.Sc. in electrical engineering and his Ph.D. in mathematical logic from Cornell University in the United States. After holding posts at Rochester University, Cornell and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology he took up the Chair of Mathematical Logic at Patras in 1978. He has found time to indulge his love of his subject by co-authoring a recently published book on mathematical logic. George Metakides views large issues within a far ranging perspective. He is a man of immense vision. I therefore ask you Mr Chancellor to confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa."
Thomas Harold ("Tommy") Flowers (1977)Thomas Harold ("Tommy") Flowers (1977)
The following is the University's Public Orator's speech ahead of Thomas Flowers being awarded his honorary doctorate:
None of us here assembled lives out a single day but that at some point its course is influenced, for better or for worse, by that astounding technological invention the computer.
It has been suggested that what the wheel is to our muscles, the computer is to our brains - an interesting if arguable proposition. What is certain is that the computer, though still a babe in contrast to the wheel, has grown at a prodigious rate. But whilst the infant's health and strength are now assured, there is, or was till recently, some mystery about its birth and parentage.
In October 1975 a set of photographs was made available at the Public Records Office of a machine called Colossus. The pictures, together with the explanatory caption, indicated beyond doubt that a series of programmable electronic devices had been built in Britain during the Second World War, the first being operational by 1943. The caption indicated that Colossus had a number of distinguishing features: punched paper tape inputs operating at 5,000 characters per second; photo-electric tape readers; bistable hard-valve circuits performing counting, binary arithmetic and Boolean logic operations; electronic storage registers changeable by an automatically controlled sequence of operations; conditional (branching) logic; logic functions pre-set by patch-panels or switches, or conditionally selected by telephone relays; fully-automatic operation; solenoid operated electric typewriter output.
One must assume that the machine was not entirely straightforward and the caption vouchsafed the information that its development was undertaken by a small team led by T. H. Flowers. Thomas Flowers has carried the secret of that early development for over thirty years. Only since the release of the photographs of Colossus has there been any relaxation of official secrecy and only now, rather belatedly, can we begin to understand, at least in part, the technological contribution that he made and its vital relevance to strategies of war.
Before the war Thomas Flowers worked at the Post Office Research Station at Dollis Hill in north-west London. He had gone there in 1930 after serving his apprenticeship at Woolwich Arsenal, an establishment renowned for its precision engineering. So precise in fact that a railway engine, built during his apprenticeship as a result of spare capacity, fitted the rails so well that it could not go round corners. His main research interest at Dollis Hill was long-distance signalling and even in those days he had considerable experience of electronics and had fore-knowledge of developments in radar.
In 1941 Thomas Flowers was asked to go to Bletchley Park, a Foreign Office establishment in Buckinghamshire, which we now know to have been the nerve centre of the British code-breaking organisation. The first problems that he tackled on going to Bletchley were not themselves of great significance but they did establish him and two members of his team, Broadhurst and Chandler, as the leading experts in electronics in the establishment.
About this time there was mounting pressure to try to crack the code known as "Fish" used by the German High Command. The requirements for machines to do so had been formulated by Professor M. H. A. Newman but there were mechanical snags in the operation of the ones they built, the first of which was known as Heath Robinson. Flowers suggested an electronic solution to the problem involving the introduction of 1,500 valves but his unorthodox suggestion was not adopted. Being a man of determination, he took his idea back to Dollis Hill where it was given a more enlightened reception. And so began the building of Colossus.
Miraculously it worked to the dumbfoundment but delight of former sceptics. The application of this machine conceived of genius, the secrets it unravelled, the strategies it frustrated - these are another part of history some of which may never be unfolded. We know that urgent demand was made for more Colossi, speedier in operation than the first. The dead-line for Mark II was 1 June 1944 and after frantic months of ceaseless work that dead-line was beaten - just five days to D-day.
A brief account of chronological facts omits the personal and human aspects of the tale; the pressure, and the cloak of secrecy, anxiety, frustration and, above all, intense fatigue. Yet Tommy Flowers looks back and says 'It was a great time in my life'.
Only one episode mars his recollection of those days. His working schedule clashed with Home Guard duty and took priority. He was dismissed.
Now that the story of Colossus is unfolded the computer historians have thought again about the antecedents of their child. Perhaps after all his birth place, a secret of war, was on this side of the Atlantic. Historians will argue. By modern definition Colossus was not a computer in that it was not multi-purpose. But nor was its trans-Atlantic counter-part, ENIAC, which it pre-dated. If Colossus was not the first computer, perhaps it was his godfather.
Newcastle bases its claim to be the first university to honour Thomas Flowers on two particular counts. First, some of its members have sought to learn the secrets of the early days of their technology and to give recognition to those who played the major parts. And second, its Computing Laboratory, of which we are proud, celebrated its twentieth birthday on 1 April, all fools' day! It did so with an ingenuity denied to those without computer brains. It created for future generations of computer men a new academic robe to be worn by he who heads the team. Embroidered on this vestment is the modest statement of their aspirations - 'and tomorrow the world'.
After the war Thomas Flowers returned to Dollis Hill where he continued to make original contributions in the electronics of communication. Now he has retired. He does not think in terms of primacy. To men like him it matters less who wins the race, than who runs well.
Mr Chancellor, I submit to you that Thomas Flowers and all his team ran well and we are proud to honour him for what he did those many years ago. I now present him to you and ask you to confer on him the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa. Dr. D.A. Shaw