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Honorary graduates 2018

Sir Robin Nicholson FRS (DSc)

Thursday 19 July 2018 11:45am

Sir Robin Nicholson, FRS, FREng, is a scientist and businessman. He graduated in Natural Sciences at Cambridge in 1956 specialising in metallurgy. He then gained a PhD by carrying out research on strong metallic alloys using pioneering techniques of transmission electron microscopy of thin crystalline materials. He became a Lecturer in metallurgy at Cambridge before joining Manchester University as Professor and Head of the Department of Metallurgy in 1966.

In 1972 he entered industry as Director of Research at the European Research and Development Centre of the International Nickel Company of Canada (INCO). Subsequently he became Managing Director of INCO Europe. He was also Co-Chairman of Biogen N.V.

In 1981 Sir Robin was appointed a member of the UK Government's Central Policy Review Staff and served in the Cabinet Office as Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister, Mrs Margaret Thatcher.

In 1986 he re-entered industry as an Executive Director of Pilkington plc, a post which he held until he retired in 1996. He also became a Non-Executive Director of Rolls-Royce plc and of BP plc, holding these posts until 2005.

He was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He was also elected a Foreign Member of the (US) National Academy of Engineering and a Founder Member of Academia Europaea. Sir Robin was knighted in 1985.

For 11 years from 2005, Sir Robin was a Member of Council of the University of Exeter where he held Dual Assurance responsibility for Research and Innovation.