A number of Oxford professors have been recognised for their work in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List, including in social and natural sciences.

It was announced that Professor Dieter Helm CBE will be appointed Knight Bachelor, with the knighthood being awarded for services to the environment, energy and to utilities policy.

Professor Helm is Professor of Economic Policy at Oxford, and has been Fellow in Economics at New College since the 1980s. Until November 2020, he was Independent Chair of the Natural Capital Committee, providing advice to the government on the sustainable use of natural capital. Professor Helm has written several books on the climate emergency and energy, the most recent being ‘Net Zero’ which was published in September 2020.

On receiving the knighthood, Professor Helm said: “The recognition of a lifetime of work on public policy is a great honour,” adding, “Oxford has given me the freedom to pursue my wider public policy interests in a way that few other institutions would have tolerated, and I am grateful for over 30 years of support from New College Fellows and Wardens.”

The professor, whose title is now Sir Dieter Helm, explained: “Over the last decade I have being working on the 25 Year Environment Plan which is now being integrated into the Environmental Bill going through Parliament. I also wrote the Cost of Energy Review, which is now being reflected in the Energy White Paper. These are examples of the intersection between academic research, government and business, which is not only the area that interests me most, but where there is a chance to make things happen.”

Helm is among several Oxford professors to have been recognised for their work in this year’s honours list.

Another to receive a knighthood is Professor David Stuart FRS, Professor of Structural Biology, recognised for his services to medical research and to the scientific community.

Professor Stuart’s work on the structure of viral proteins has led to pioneering innovative methods in vaccine development, and over his career his ground-breaking insights have been utilised to understand and tackle human viruses such as HIV-1, hepatitis A and B, SARS and Ebola.

Professor Stuart said: “I am deeply honoured by this recognition. I have worked to understand the structure and function of pathogenic viruses for many years.”

He continued: “This past year has been challenging for many all over the world, and I am amongst the large number of scientists who are trying to apply their knowledge and expertise to help fight this pandemic. I am grateful to all those around me, especially in Oxford University and Diamond Light Source, who have worked together tirelessly to understand, in particular, our antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2.”

Other Oxford dons to be recognised in the New Year’s Honours List include Professor Andrew Thompson, who has been appointed CBE for services to research. Professor Thompson is Chair of Global and Imperial History at the University of Oxford, Co-Director of the Oxford Global History Centre, and a Professorial Fellow at Nuffield College.

Thompson was the former Executive Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and in that role led the £1.5bn Global Challenges Research Fund and the Newton Fund.

Meanwhile, an OBE was awarded to Professor Eleanor Stride, Statutory Professor of Biomaterials, for services to engineering.

Professor Christopher Hodges, Professor of Justice Systems, has also been appointed OBE, for services to business and law.

Many awards reflect the part played by Oxonians in the medical and scientific world during the coronavirus pandemic. Dr Gareth Hynes has been awarded an MBE for services to medical education during Covid-19. Dr Hynes is Specialty Registrar in Respiratory Medicine, and was involved in organising the regional response to the pandemic, including the education of clinicians on the clinical management of Covid-19.

Max Spokes

Max (he/him) was formerly Environment News Editor and Climate Columnist at The Blue. He is in his final year studying History and Politics at Balliol.