Published: 13 June 2023

Visiting professor from NPL cements strategic partnership

The Chief Executive Officer of the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Peter Thompson, has become a Visiting Professor at Surrey, with the aim of learning more about the sector and in particular the strengths of one of its key University partners and using that knowledge to help to drive the partnership forward.

Peter’s appointment is the latest development within a strategic partnership that links NPL to two UK universities: Surrey and Strathclyde. Since the partnership began in 2015, there have been a number of collaborative research projects, including programmes designed to ensuring the country’s future telecommunications systems and 5G are secure, and using Surrey’s Ion Beam Centre to research strain in single-crystal silicon. There is strong collaboration with regard to sharing access to specialist laboratories facilities including the new SEISMIC research facility.

The universities have also supported NPL in setting up a Postgraduate Institute for Measurement Science, hosting around 200 doctoral researchers, with Surrey and Strathclyde supervising the largest numbers of students.

NPL is the UK's National Metrology Institute, developing and maintaining the national primary measurement standards, as well as collaborating with its counterparts around the world to maintain the international system of measurement. It provides cutting-edge measurement science, engineering and technology to underpin prosperity and quality of life in the UK, working closely with many academics to achieve this.

“Although I’m located in the School of Maths and Physics for my visiting professorship, I am looking forward to learning about activities across the University, including its two research institutes” says Peter, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the recipient of the Institute of Physics Richard Glazebrook Medal and Prize in 2022 for outstanding leadership of the National Physical Laboratory and the sustained impact of metrology on UK prosperity and quality of life. He continues: “Metrology – the scientific study of measurement – matters to all areas.”

Peter’s first visit to the University as a visiting Professor was hosted by Professor Paul Smith, the Academic Lead for Surrey’s side of the partnership. Paul says, “It was a great first visit. Peter met colleagues from a number of areas and the shared commitment by NPL and the University – to maximise the impact of research for end users – was clear in all the discussions.”