The Queen

The University of Cambridge is celebrating the recognition of four of its most distinguished female academics in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

This is a tremendous achievement by our senior women academics and recognises just some of the serious talent that Cambridge has to offer.

Professor Valerie Gibson, Gender Champion-Elect at the University of Cambridge

Professor Theresa Marteau, Director of the Behaviour and Health Research Unit and a fellow of Christ’s College, has been appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her services to public health. Her work on the development and evaluation of interventions to change behaviour in diet, physical activity, tobacco and alcohol consumption is aimed at improving population health and reducing health inequalities, with a particular focus on targeting non-conscious processes.

“This is a huge honour,” says Professor Marteau, who is also a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and of the Academy of Social Sciences. “It is wonderful to have recognition for the contribution that behavioural science can make to improving the health of the population. I am also proud to be a role model to more junior women scientists.”

Also recognised is fellow public health expert Professor Carol Brayne, who has been made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to public health medicine. Professor Brayne is a Fellow of Darwin College.

As Director of the Cambridge Institute of Public Health, Professor Brayne’s research interests have focused on dementia and brain health with ageing, particularly on population studies for policy and planning, risk and protective factors, as well as scientific understanding of what dementia in older populations really looks like. Her studies have shown that dementia has declined age for age in contemporary UK populations and the possible protective role of modifiable factors such as education.

Professor Brayne is a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and has leadership roles for Public Health nationally, regionally and locally. “It is a great honour to receive this award and I’m privileged to work in public health with outstanding colleagues, in a field that contributes so much to the health and wellbeing of the public worldwide,” she says.

Professor Serena Best of the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy has also been awarded a CBE, for services to Biomaterials Engineering. She is co-director of the Cambridge Centre for Medical Materials, which is developing next-generation medical materials to interact therapeutically with the body.

Professor Best’s research aims to expand the range and performance of bioactive scaffolds in clinical applications. She is Senior Vice President of the Institute of Materials, Mineral and Mining and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Professor Best, a fellow of St John’s College, says: “The honour reflects the impact of materials and engineering in the development of improved healthcare technologies. In receiving this award, I would also like to acknowledge the important contribution of the team in Cambridge.”

Professor Alexandra Walsham of the Faculty of History has also been made a CBE, for services to history. Her research focuses on the religious and cultural history of early modern Britain and she has published widely in this field.

A fellow of Trinity College, Professor Walsham has been a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society since 1999 and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2009 and of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2013.

"I am bewildered and humbled by this unexpected honour, which I am still struggling to take in," says Walsham. "I hope that I can endeavour to deserve it by providing further service to History in the coming years."


The recognition of distinguished female academics at Cambridge has been welcomed by Professor Eilis Ferran, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Institutional and International Relations, who says: “These honours recognise exceptionally talented women across the disciplines at Cambridge. Not only do they highlight their outstanding academic achievements, they celebrate the seminal contributions to the fields of public health, engineering and history they have made.”

Gender Champion-Elect at the University of Cambridge, Professor Valerie Gibson, says: “This is a tremendous achievement by our senior women academics and recognises just some of the serious talent that Cambridge has to offer.”

Fellow Gender Champion-Elect Professor Sarah Colvin adds: “The range of achievements of the women who are being honoured – across public health, engineering, and modern history – is a good reflection of the diversity of that talent. Huge congratulations!”

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