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Professors among Britain's 'most influential'

Published: 29 January 2016
Dame Wendy Hall
Professor Dame Wendy Hall

Four Academics within the Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering have again been named in the prestigious Debrett’s 500 for 2016, which recognises the most influential and inspiring people living and working in Britain today.

Engineering and Technology: Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Professor Sir David Payne, Liam Maxwell

Professor Dame Wendy Hall is described by Debrett’s as ‘a leading light in the development of web services’. She is recognised as one of the first computer scientists to embark on serious research into multi- and hyper-media technologies before the existence of the World Wide Web. A Professor of Computer Science within Electronics and Computer Science, the list also highlights Dame Wendy’s role as a commissioner for the Global Commission on Internet Governance, a two-year project that aims to set out a strategy for the future of internet governance.

Director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre and Zepler Institute, Professor Sir David Payne is recognised in the Debrett’s 500 list for the far-reaching impact that his research has had on our lives today: “His invention of the erbium-doped fibre amplifier is widely regarded as one of the most important developments in modern communications and facilitated the internet’s rapid growth through fast transmission and amplification of large amounts of data.”

A Visiting Professor within Electronics and Computer Science, Liam Maxwell is HM Government’s Chief Technology Officer. He is recognised within the Engineering and Technology category of the Debrett’s 500 list for driving innovation in public services at the helm of Government Digital Services.

Digital and Social: Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Inventor of the World Wide Web, president of the Open Data Institute and director of the World Wide Web Consortium, Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee features in the list’s Digital and Social category. Debrett’s says he is “arguably the most important computer scientist of our time” and highlights his work as leading the Alliance for Affordable Internet which aims to make it more accessible to the developing world.

Compiled in consultation with independent expert practitioners and commentators in each of the categories, The Debrett’s 500 was launched in 2014 and is published in association with The Sunday Times to identify and celebrate the most influential people in British society. All the people in the Debrett’s 500 were scrutinised for their level of influence in shaping the lives, choices and ideas of others.

Professor Dame Wendy Hall and Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee have featured in every Debrett’s 500 list since its launch; 2016 marks the second year running for Professor Sid David Payne and Liam Maxwell in the list. This year they are listed among other notable engineers and physicists such as: Dame Ann Dowling, president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, honoured for her services to science in 2007, Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell DBE, Astrophysicist and president of the Royal Society; Bob Joyce, engineering director, Jaguar Land Rover and Sir James Dyson, designer of the dual cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner who rejected 5,127 prototypes before he achieved success.


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