Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Honorary Graduands Biographies Summer 2012


Professor Jean Fréchet is Henry Rapoport Chair of Organic Chemistry, Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. Professor Fréchet received his first degree from the Institut de Chimie et Physique Industrielles (now CPE) in Lyon, before obtaining PhDs in polymer chemistry from the State University of New York (SUNY), College of Forestry and in organic chemistry from Syracuse University in 1971. He joined the Chemistry Faculty at the University of Ottawa in 1973 where he became Professor of Chemistry until 1987 when he moved to Cornell University to take up the post of IBM Professor of Polymer Chemistry. He joined the University of California in 1996 where he became Professor of Chemical Engineering in 2005. His research interests are in organic, polymer, materials and medicinal chemistry; organic chemistry on the nanometer scale with macromolecules. Professor Fréchet is Scientific Director of the The Molecular Foundry at the E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In 2010 he became Vice-President Researcher at King Abduallah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Chemical Society and a Member of the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences. Among his many awards are the American Chemical Society Award in Polymer Chemistry (2000), American Chemical Society Cope Scholar Award (2001), the Macro Group UK (joint Royal Society for Chemistry and Society of Chemical Industry award) (2006), Institute of Industrial Science Medal (Japan) (2007) and the Grand Prix de la Maison de la Chimie (Paris) (2010).

Professor Jean M J Fréchet will receive his honorary degree at the 11.00am ceremony on Monday 16 July 2012.



Warwick graduate Stephen Heighway is a former footballer who played for the hugely successful Liverpool team in the 1970s. Born in Dublin, Ireland, Heighway began his football career in non-league football while completing his degree in economics. He was studying for his final exams and playing for Skelmersdale United when he was spotted by Liverpool's scouting system. A promising winger, Stephen was signed up in 1970. He stayed with Liverpool for the next decade, winning four League titles, along with the UEFA Cup and the FA Cup. He also became a regular for the Republic of Ireland winning a total of 34 caps by the end of the 1970s. He attained another League and UEFA Cup double with Liverpool in 1976. He left Anfield in 1982 after 444 matches and 76 goals. Stephen Heighway moved to the US to join the Minnesota Kicks, before becoming one of the coaching staff of Umbro. This led to a position at the Clearwater Chargers Youth Soccer Club where he pioneered the role of Director of Coaching in the United States. In 1989 he rejoined Liverpool to run their youth academy – his successes include Robbie Fowler, Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen. Heighway officially retired from Liverpool in 2007.

Mr Stephen Heighway will receive his honorary degree at the 3.00pm ceremony on Monday 16 July 2012.



Professor Sir David King FRS is Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford, Director of Research in Physical Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, Director of the Collegio Carlo Alberto, Chancellor of the University of Liverpool and a senior scientific adviser to UBS banking and financial services group. He was born in South Africa and after an early career at the University of Witwatersrand, Imperial College and the University of East Anglia, became the Brunner Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Liverpool in 1974. In 1988 he was appointed 1920 Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Cambridge and subsequently became Master of Downing College (1995–2000) and Head of the University Chemistry Department (1993-2000). Sir David was the Chief Scientific Adviser to H.M. Government and Head of the Government Office for Science from 2000-2007. He raised the profile of the need for governments to act on climate change and was instrumental in creating the new £1 billion Energy Technologies Institute. In 2008 he co-authored The Hot Topic (Bloomsbury). As Director of the Government’s Foresight Programme, he created a horizon scanning process which advised government on a range of long term issues, from flooding to obesity. He also chaired the Global Science and Innovation Forum from its inception. Sir David has published over 500 papers on chemical physics and on science and policy, and has received numerous prizes and Fellowships. He was knighted in 2003 and in 2009 made a Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur.

Professor Sir David King will receive his honorary degree at the 10.30am ceremony on Tuesday 17 July 2012.



Dr Alan Reece is the founder of Pearson Engineering Limited (PEL), one of the best-performing industrial groups in north-east England, bringing more than £400million worth of business to the region and providing employment for several hundred people. Dr Reece formed PEL in the 1980s, while reading Agricultural Engineering at Newcastle University. Long before university spinouts, he and his colleagues from the School of Engineering were involved in outside consultancy and their application of ‘earth ploughing’ technology to industry led to the creation of a cluster of high performing north-east companies, now in diverse ownerships. The technology in which PEL specialises has been developed for activities including cable laying for telecommunications, for the oil and gas sectors and, in Pearson’s case, mine clearance. It is for work in this area that Pearson Engineering Limited was awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation, for the design of counter-mine equipment, now used by the British and US armies, as well as the US Marines. In addition to his long and distinguished career in manufacturing engineering, Dr Reece has also been keen to advance the teaching of engineering in academic institutions in the UK. To this end he established the Reece Foundation in 2007; he has also supported the Arkwright Trust, which provides scholarships for engineering, Civitas (to raise the profile of manufacturing) and the Smallpiece Trust, which seeks to increase awareness of careers in engineering among 10 to 18 year olds.

Dr Alan Reece will receive his honorary degree at the 10.30am ceremony on Tuesday 17 July 2012.



English playwright David Edgar was born in Birmingham into a family with longstanding links to the theatre. He was educated at Oundle School and read Drama at Manchester University. After a brief career as a journalist, he began writing dramatic works in 1971. He is best known for his overtly-political plays, many of which have premiered at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). These include Destiny (1976), winner of the John Whiting Award, The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs (1978), The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1980), winner of the Society of West End Theatres Best Play award and a Tony Award (USA), and Maydays (1983), winner of the Plays and Players Award for Best Play. He also wrote a trilogy of plays set in Eastern Europe: The Shape of the Table (1990); Pentecost (1994), winner of the Evening Standard Award for Best Play of the Year; and The Prisoner's Dilemma (2001). More recent works include Albert Speer (2000) and Playing with Fire (2005), both of which premiered at the Royal National Theatre. His work for television includes adaptations of Destiny and The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs for the BBC, and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, for Channel 4. He has also written radio plays including Ecclesiastes (1977) and A Movie Starring Me (1991). He wrote the screenplay for the film Lady Jane (1986). David Edgar was Resident Playwright at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre 1974-5 (Board Member from 1985), Fellow in Creative Writing at Leeds Polytechnic, Bicentennial Arts Fellow (US) 1978-9 and Literary Consultant for the RSC 1984-8, and Honorary Associate Artist, 1989. He founded the University of Birmingham's MA in Playwriting Studies in 1989 and was its director until 1999. He was appointed Professor of Playwriting Studies in 1995 and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Professor David Edgar will receive his honorary degree at the 1.30pm ceremony on Tuesday 17 July 2012.



David Bradley is a celebrated character actor of stage and screen. Born in York, he began his acting career in 1971, at Sir Laurence Olivier's National Theatre. He also made his first television appearance in that year, playing a police officer in the popular comedy Nearest and Dearest. He now lives in Stratford-upon-Avon, where he serves as President of the Second Thoughts Drama Group. He was awarded a Laurence Olivier Award in 1991 for his supporting actor role in King Lear at the Royal National Theatre. He has appeared in the Royal National Theatre's 1997 production of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, as well as productions of Pinter's The Caretaker at Sheffield Theatres and the Tricycle Theatre in London in 2006/2007. His television work includes the 1996 award-winning BBC Two series Our Friends in the North; the BBC adaptation of Vanity Fair; the 2004 BBC One drama serials Blackpool (2004), Mr Harvey Lights a Candle (2005) and Sweeney Todd (2006); Midsomer Murders (2006) and Ashes to Ashes (2009). David Bradley’s many film credits include Nicholas Nickleby (2002) and Hot Fuzz (2007). He is well-known for playing the caretaker of Hogwarts, Argus Filch, in the Harry Potter series of films. He also played Cohen the Barbarian in a Sky One adaptation of The Colour of Magic by fellow Warwick Honorary Graduate, Terry Pratchett.

Mr David Bradley will receive his honorary degree at the 4.30pm ceremony on Tuesday 17 July 2012.



Singaporean Ambassador Barry Desker is the founding Dean of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and concurrently Director, Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS). A President’s Scholar, he graduated with a First Class degree in History from the University of Singapore in 1970 and obtained an MA from the University of London in 1973 on a Ford Foundation Fellowship. He was a Ford Foundation Research Fellow at Cornell University from 1973 to 1974. His research interests include the World Trade Organisation, terrorism and civil conflict in Asia, as well as regional economic and security issues. In 2007, he served as a member of the first Warwick Commission: The Multilateral Trade Regime: Which Way Forward? He joined the Singapore Administrative Service (Foreign Service Branch) in 1970, serving as Ambassador to Indonesia from 1986 to 1993. From 1984 to 1986, he was Director of the Policy, Planning and Analysis Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Desker was awarded the Singapore Public Administration Medal (Gold) in 1992. Ambassador Desker is currently Chairman of Singapore Technologies Marine and his other roles include: Director of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and the Cordell Hull Institute (Washington, DC); Honorary Advisor, UN Association of Singapore; member of the Trilateral Commission on global issues. He is Vice-Chairman of the Singapore Business Federation and Chairman of its International Relations Committee.

Ambassador Barry Desker will receive his honorary degree at the 11.00am ceremony on Wednesday 18 July 2012.



Professor Sir Keith Peters is Emeritus Professor of Physic at the University of Cambridge, where he was Head of the School of Clinical Medicine and Honorary Consultant Physician at Addenbrooke's NHS Trust (1987-2005). Prior to this he was Professor and Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School at London’s Hammersmith Hospital. He graduated from the Welsh National School of Medicine and began his career in junior posts in the United Cardiff Hospitals in 1965. He then spent four years on a Medical Research Council (MRC) Clinical Research Fellowship. His research in the field of immunological kidney disease has been recognised by Fellowships of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Society, and Membership of the American Philosophical Society. He received a Knighthood in the 1993 New Year’s Honours List. He is founding Fellow (and from 2002-2006 President) of the Academy of Medical Sciences. From 2004-2007 Sir Keith was independent co-chair of the UK Council for Science and Technology. Sir Keith has also served on Scientific Advisory Boards of pharmaceutical and healthcare companies including GE Healthcare, Merck Research Laboratories, Celltech and Cambridge Antibody Technology.

Sir Keith Peters will receive his honorary degree at the 3.00pm ceremony on Wednesday 18 July 2012.



Professor Stengers works in the philosophy and history, of science, and explores the links between hard sciences and disciplines such as psychiatry, economics, or ecology. She graduated in chemistry from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, where she is now Professor of the Philosophy of Science and Chair of the Practices of Knowledge Production; this year she concurrently holds the Willy Calewaert Chair at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. She completed a doctoral thesis in Philosophy under the direction of Ilya Prigogine, Nobel Laureate and pioneer of chaos theory, and collaborated with him on her first publication La Nouvelle Alliance, published in 1979 (produced in English as Order out of Chaos in 1984). They also worked together to produce the French version of The End of Certainty in 1997 – now regarded as a classic text on complex and open systems in which common views of physics are transformed through a focus on irreversibility, instability and indeterminism. Since then, Professor Stengers’ trenchant re-evaluations of psychiatry, economics, or ecology have highlighted the problematic relationship of hard sciences with adjacent disciplines. Her seven-volume work, Cosmopolitics, scrutinises how science historically has been subordinated to probabilistic interpretations which are then re-imposed on nature as a unifying ideology of physics. professor Stengers was the first woman to win the Académie Française grand prize for philosophy, in 1993, and is the most recent recipient of the FRS-FNRS Ernest-John Solvay Prize for humanities and social sciences.

Professor Isabelle Stengers will receive her honorary degree at the 11.00am ceremony on Thursday 19 July 2012.



Saskia Sassen is a Dutch sociologist noted for her analyses of globalization and international human migration. She is currently Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, Co-Chair Committee on Global Thought and Centennial visiting Professor at the London School of Economics. Professor Sassen grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina and spent a part of her youth in Italy. From 1966, she spent a year each at the Université de Poitiers, France, the Università degli Studi di Roma, and the Universidad de Buenos Aires, for studies in philosophy and political science. From 1969, Sassen studied sociology and economics at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, where she obtained MA and PhD degrees in 1971 and 1974, respectively. She also obtained a French Master's degree in philosophy in Poitiers in 1974. After being a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, Professor Sassen held various academic positions both in and outside the USA, including the Ralph Lewis Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago. During the 1980s and 1990s, she emerged as a prolific author in urban sociology and her books have been translated into 21 languages. She studied the impacts of globalisation and how the movements of labour and capital influence urban life. She also studied the influence of communication technology on governance and observed how nation states begin to lose power to control these developments. She identified and described the phenomenon of the global city. Her 1991 book bearing this title quickly made her a frequently quoted author on globalisation worldwide. A revised and updated edition of her book was published in 2001.

Professor Saskia Sassen will receive her honorary degree at the 3.00pm ceremony on Thursday 19 July 2012.



Dr Nemat Shafik became Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund in 2011, having served as Permanent Secretary of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). Her expertise is in globalisation, emerging markets and private investment, international development, the Middle East and Africa, and the environment. Dr Shafik was born in Alexandria, Egypt. She lived in the US as a child but returned to Egypt where she graduated from high school. She then studied at the American University in Cairo, followed by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst where she obtained a BA in Economics and Politics. After working for two years on development issues in Egypt, she completed anMSc in Economics from the London School of Economics followed by a DPhil in Economics from Oxford University. She then joined the World Bank, ultimately becoming its youngest ever Vice-President. She initially went to the DFID on secondment as Director General for Country Programmes before being appointed Chief Executive in 2008. Dr Shafik has held academic appointments at the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Economics Department at Georgetown University. Her publications include Challenges Facing Middle Eastern and North African Countries: Alternative Futures and articles in scholarly journals. Dr Shafik currently serves on the boards of the Economic Research Forum for the Arab World, Iran and Turkey. She is also a mentor to the Minority Ethnic Talent Association which supports under-represented groups to advance to senior positions in the civil service. She was named “Woman of the Year” for Global Leadership and Global Diversity in 2009.

Dr Nemat Shafik will receive her honorary degree at the 11.00am ceremony on Friday 20 July 2012.



Warwick graduate Sir Bob Kerslake has recently taken up the post of Head of the Civil Service, alongside his role as Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government. He graduated from Warwick with a first class degree in Mathematics in 1976. During his time here, he was also General Secretary (President) of the Students’ Union and held the sabbatical post on graduating (1977-8). After graduating, he held a number of posts with London councils before moving to the London Borough of Hounslow in 1989 to become Director of Finance. The following year he was appointed as Chief Executive, a post which he held until 1997, when he moved to become Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council. He stayed in Sheffield until 2008, when he became the first Chief Executive of the Homes and Communities Agency. Whilst at Sheffield City Council his external commitments included being a Member of Sheffield First Partnership, Co-chair of the Safer Sheffield Steering Group, a Member of the South Yorkshire Learning and Skills Council, a Member of the South Yorkshire Forum, Member of Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Board, Sheffield One Company Secretary and serving on Partnership Boards (regions and city). Nationally, he has also been a non-executive Board member at the Department for Communities and Local Government and was a member of both the Equalities Review Panel and the National Employment Panel.

Sir Robert Kerslake will receive his honorary degree at the 3.00pm ceremony on Friday 20 July 2012.



Warwick graduate Oliver Hart is an economist and the Andrew E. Furer Professor of Economics at Harvard University. Born in Britain, he gained a BA in Mathematics at King's College, Cambridge in 1969, an MA in Economics at Warwick in 1972, and a PhD in Economics at Princeton University in 1974. He then became a fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge and a Professor at the London School of Economics. In 1984, he returned to the US, where he taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and, since 1993, at Harvard University. He was chairman of the Harvard Economics Department from 2000 to 2003. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Econometric Society, and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He has been President of the American Law and Economics Association and Vice-President of the American Economic Association. He is an Honorary Professor in Warwick’s Department of Economics. Professor Hart is an expert on contract theory, theory of the firm, corporate finance, and law and economics. His research centres on the roles that ownership structure and contractual arrangements play in the governance and boundaries of corporations.

Professor Oliver Hart will receive his honorary degree at the 3.00pm ceremony on Friday 20 July 2012.