Ann Patricia Dowling

Presentation address by Professor Elaine Martin


The award of an honorary degree congratulates excellence and celebrates outstanding achievement.  In honouring Professor Dame Ann Dowling today we are celebrating her outstanding contributions to engineering and also the very significant impact she has had as a female engineer.

Ann started her career as a mathematician but always wanted to pursue applied mathematics, and she did her PhD in engineering acoustics with Professor John Fowcs Williams, who led the pioneering noise-reduction research on Concorde.  This research theme endured, and in 2003 she was the UK lead on the Silent Aircraft Initiative.  Her career has continued to go from strength to strength, and she is now a world leading authority on combustion and acoustics.  Of particular interest to everyone here today has been her research into the reduction of noise from cars, helicopters, fixed wing aircraft and domestic appliances such as vacuum cleaners and fans.  To say that Ann’s research has had a beneficial impact on us all is a real understatement.  Her outstanding contributions have been widely recognised by fellowships of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society, as well as foreign associate membership of the US National Academy of Engineering and the French Academy of Sciences.

Throughout her career, Ann has forged a path for female engineers and in 1993 she became the first ever female professor in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, a department of which she was appointed Head in 2009.  Ann has chaired numerous committees that have influenced the shaping of the engineering agenda both nationally and internationally and in 2013 was nominated in BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour power list as one of the 100 most influential women in the country.  She is now throwing her boundless energy into serving as the first female president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and just this month has published a report for the Government on how to forge closer research collaborations between universities and industry.

In 2002, Ann received a CBE for services to Mechanical Engineering, and in the New 2007 Year's Honours List she received a Dame Commander of the British Empire for services to science.

Vice-Chancellor, we celebrate today a woman of impact, an engineer who solves real-world problems and a role model of distinction. It gives me great pleasure to present to you for the degree of Doctor of Science (Engineering), honoris causa, Ann Patricia Dowling.