press release
Published: 14 June 2021

Professor Jim Al-Khalili awarded CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List

Professor Jim Al-Khalili, Professor of Theoretical Physics and Distinguished Chair in physics at the University of Surrey as well as a university chair in public engagement in science, has been awarded a CBE for outstanding services to science and public engagement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Announced in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2021, Professor Al-Khalili has been awarded CBE for playing a key role in this arena at national level and for his distinguished and innovative contributions that have extended around the world.

His field of research lies mainly in theoretical nuclear physics. This has mostly been in the development of few-body quantum scattering methods to study nuclear reaction mechanisms and nuclear structure, particularly as applied to the study of exotic nuclei produced by radioactive beam facilities around the world.

More recently, he has also undertaken study in quantum mechanisms in biology and has published several papers on quantum tunnelling in DNA.

Not only has Professor Al-Khalili taught undergraduate physics students in an unbroken run of 29 years, but he is also a prominent author and broadcaster. He has written 12 books on popular science and the history of science, which have together been translated into twenty-six languages. His latest book, The World According to Physics, was shortlisted for the Royal Society Book Prize. He is also a regular presenter of TV science documentaries such as the Bafta-nominated Chemistry: A Volatile History and he hosts the long-running weekly BBC Radio 4 programme The Life Scientific. In a further outstanding achievement, Professor Al-Khalili was awarded the inaugural Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication.

Professor Max Lu, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey, said: “We are very proud of Professor Al-Khalili's many contributions to science and science promotion.  His work has made science more accessible and appealing to people everywhere, and has inspired thousands of young people to study STEM subjects. On behalf of the entire University community, I congratulate Jim on receiving this richly-deserved recognition.”

Professor Al-Khalili, said: “I am delighted to have been honoured in this way by Her Majesty The Queen – and gratified to know that I have been successful in exciting and interesting others where I have been so inspired myself. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the fantastic people I have worked with in my career at the University of Surrey and beyond.”

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