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The responsibility of being a scientist: Dame Julia Higgins gives second Campbell Lecture at the University

Published: 3 July 2005

The University of Southampton Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (WiSET) group is hosting its second Campbell Lecture next week (Monday 9 May). The lecture is an annual event, given by a major woman scientist, celebrating women in science, engineering and technology. This year's speaker is Professor Dame Julia Higgins who will talk on 'The responsibility of being a scientist'.

Dame Julia's lecture will explore the various responsibilities of being a scientist in the modern world. She comments: "Society funds science through its taxes, but has little control of the uses made of science, and while it enjoys the benefits it also suffers any ill consequences of the applications directly and pays again for any clean-up operation.

"Scientists have an absolute responsibility not only to do their science well but also to be open to the judgement and opinions of the community in whose name and at whose expense they are doing it. Only by entering a real dialogue, admitting the risks as well as hailing the potential benefits of new knowledge, will we maintain the respect and trust of society, and restore it where it has been damaged."

Notes for editors

  1. The lecture takes place at 3.30pm, in Chemistry Lecture Room 1, Room 2001, Building 27, Highfield campus, University of Southampton, on Monday 9 May 2005.
  2. Professor Dame Julia Higgins is Professor of Polymer Science in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology at Imperial College London, where she is also Director of the Graduate School of Engineering and Physical Sciences. She is Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Vice-President of the Royal Society and Chair of the Chemistry Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) panel. Her research programme focuses on studying the molecular basis of properties in polymeric materials which is funded both by industry and by research councils. Her expertise lies particularly in the application of scattering techniques, notably neutron scattering, to the understanding of polymer behaviour, most recently to polymer blends and mixtures.
  3. The Campbell Lecture is an annual lecture to showcase successful international women scientists. The lecture is named in honour of Ishbell Campbell (1906-1997) who was one of the founding academics of the University of Southampton. She was a reader in Chemistry with an excellent research record into the organic compounds of Group V elements, as well as a committed teacher and inspiration for women in science.
  4. The WiSET group, launched in 2002, has also been involved in a review of the promotion of women, including the funding of an Action Learning Set, a childcare survey and the development of mentoring networks in the Southampton Oceanography Centre and Medicine. The Campbell Lecture represents a key part of a visibility project to show the high quality of women scientists both internationally and at Southampton at all stages of their careers.
  5. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University has over 20,000 students and over 5,000 staff. Its annual turnover is in the region of £270 million.
  6. The School of Electronics and Computer Science is a world-leading centre of excellence for research, teaching, enterprise and innovation in computer science, electronics, and electrical engineering.

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