The birthday honours list was postponed to include those who contributed to fighting Covid-19Louis Ashworth

Four academics from Cambridge University have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, which were announced on Saturday (10/10).

The honours are generally published in June, but were delayed this year to allow the inclusion of people who made an exceptional contribution during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Professor Julia Gog, of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, received an OBE for her work on modelling the spread of the virus.

“It’s hugely rewarding to see so many scientists recognised in this way,” she told the Cambridge Independent. “While I am of course thankful for this personal honour, science is a team pursuit, and I am grateful to so many colleagues for their work and support particularly during this year.”

“While there are still many challenges ahead, we will continue to do all we can to help bring this pandemic to an end”.

Professor Gog specialises in the dynamics of infectious diseases, sitting on the Government’s SAGE advisory group.

She is also a member of the steering committee of the Royal Society’s Rapid Assistance in Modelling the Pandemic (RAMP) initiative, an effort to harness the broader scientific community to aid Covid-19 modelling.

Many recipients named in the Birthday Honours, however, were recognised for services unrelated to the pandemic.

Dr Giles Yeo, of the Department of Clinical Biochemistry, has presented several television programmes on genetics and medicine, including going vegan for a month in the BBC’s Trust Me, I’m a Doctor. He received an MBE for services to science communication.

Dr Yeo is also the Principal Research Associate at the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, where he investigates the effect of genetic factors on diet.

“I can assure you that this was entirely unexpected,” explained Yeo. “Because it was in times of COVID, the notification, instead of being on expensive official stationery, came via email, and I initially thought it was a phishing scam! Anyway, it wasn’t, and I’m deeply honoured to be recognised for my contributions to communicating and engagement in research.”

In the humanities, Professor Stefan Reif, Founder of the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit, was awarded an OBE. Professor Reif oversaw the significant expansion of the Cambridge Genizah Collection into a major scholarly resource.

The Collection is an archive of medieval manuscript fragments in Hebrew, Arabic, Judaeo-Arabic, and Aramaic. Professor Reif is himself an expert on the historical study of Jewish liturgy.

Professor Sarah Worthington, of Trinity College and the Faculty of Law, was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to English Private Law.


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“I feel surprised, delighted and overwhelmed by the honour. It’s wonderful to see legal research recognised in this way, especially research in private law.”

Professor Worthington also noted that “research endeavours are never solo projects. I’ve been immensely fortunate to have met and worked with a lot of very warm and clever people who have helped me in all sorts of ways.”

Across the UK, 1495 people were named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.