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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

University announces Regius Professorship in Ocean Sciences to mark The Queen’s 90th Birthday

Published: 6 June 2016
Ocean science
The award recognises Southampton's contribution to ocean sciences. Image: Sue Ann Watson

The University of Southampton has been awarded a prestigious Regius Professorship in Ocean Sciences by Her Majesty the Queen as part of her 90th birthday celebrations.

Southampton is one of 12 British universities to be awarded a Regius Professorship that celebrate the highest and most outstanding levels of research in their fields. The title of Regius Professorship is a rare and prestigious award that recognises exceptionally high-quality research and teaching at an institution.

The University can assign the title to an existing Professor or will appoint a new professor to take the chair and hold the title.

This is Southampton’s second Regius Professorship - the first was awarded in Computer Science in 2013 as one of 12 to mark Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. Only 14 have been granted since the reign of Queen Victoria.

Before that, Regius Chairs were awarded very rarely and traditionally the chairs only existed in the ‘ancient’ universities, having been first awarded in 1497. Prior to today’s announcement of new Regius Chairs, there were 76 such professorships in 19 universities in the UK and Ireland over the last 500 years.

Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, President and Vice-Chancellor, commented: “The University is delighted to be honoured with the creation of a new Regius Professorship of Ocean Sciences. This recognises the sustained contribution of Southampton to this distinctive and important discipline.”

Rachel Mills, Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences, said: “This is an exciting new opportunity that will allow us to recruit a world-leading ocean scientist to the Regius Chair at Southampton. This will build on our global reputation for education, innovation and research in the marine area.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne said: “I am passionate about promoting science and economic growth right across the country. That’s why I promised to push for prestigious new Regius Professorships not just in London and Oxbridge, but in other great centres of learning, including the Northern Powerhouse, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. I’m delighted that promise is being honoured today.”

John Penrose, Minister for Constitution making the announcement.
John Penrose, Minister for Constitution making the announcement.

Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, said: “The success of our economy is underpinned by the exceptional science and research taking place in our world-leading universities up and down the country, and I’m delighted these 12 institutions have been recognised for their achievements. We’ll continue to make sure pioneering science is recognised and supported to help improve the lives of millions across the country and beyond.”

Announced in the government’s Productivity Plan in July, the new Regius Professorships will celebrate the increasingly important role of academic research in driving growth and improving productivity over the past 90 years.

The creation of Regius Professorships falls under the Royal Prerogative, and each appointment is approved by the Monarch on ministerial advice. For the Diamond Jubilee 12 Regius Professorship were created but prior to that only two others have been awarded in the last century, to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin in 2009. Before then, the most recent Regius Professorship was created by Queen Victoria.


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