Oral history of British science

Humphreys, Colin (9 of 9) Oral History of British Science

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  • Subjects

    Materials Science

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    interviewee's office, Cambridge

  • Interviewees

    Humphreys, Colin, 1941- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 9: Remarks on scientific organisations: CH public talks for Institute of Physics [IoP]; presidency of physics section of British Association for the Advancement of Science [BAAS]. [00:57] Story about CH presidency of Institute of Materials and measures to resolve financial difficulties: possibility of merger with IoP; merger with Institution of Mining and Metallurgy; merger allowing reductions in buildings and staff; return to profit.; positive effect of concentrating professional institutions; alternation between materials and minerals background presidents. [05:30] Remarks on IoM: awards chartered accreditation to engineers; medals and awards; out reach work with schools; library; voting process for merger of IoM; integration of two institutes; budgeting; staffing. [09:38] Remarks on: BAAS, CH doing many talks around the world, including at MIT, leading to his approach by BAAS and becoming president of physics section; membership of international materials societies; liveryman of Goldsmith's livery company, due to CH being Goldsmiths Professor, involvement with technology committee. [12:00] Remarks on Armourers and Brasiers livery company: history of company; CH becoming advisor on charity activities then liveryman; CH active year as master of company; anecdote about value of apprentice prizes to Tata Steel employees at Port Talbot; grants to schools; anecdote about importance of livery companies to setting up of Queen Elizabeth For Engineering; [18:25] feeling of giving back to public for funding research; value of dinners for meeting interesting people, such as CH conversation about LED lighting for lighthouses at Trinity House. [20:00] Remarks on involvement with religious groups: CH chairmanship of National Christians in Science Group, large numbers of Christians in scientists, such as John Houghton; CH admiration for Richard Dawkins writing style and allowing people to discuss religion, but considering purely scientific view as limiting; Christians in Science areas of interest, such as evolution, miracles, medical advances, importance of scientific accuracy. [24:00] Remarks on awards for work: anecdote about Royal Society for Arts silver medal as student; IoM Rosenhain award; IoP Kelvin Medal; American Materials and Metals Society medal; award from Federation of materials societies; CBE for popularising science; 2010 Knighthood for services to science; fellowships of Royal Academy of Engineering, and Royal Society; value of CBE and Knighthood as national recognition that science was important, comparison with past practices at Cambridge collages and Cavendish Laboratory. [27:55] Remarks on changes in materials science: more competitive nature of funding; greater importance of materials science, exemplified by recent Thompson Reuters Report; designing of materials, such as Gallium Nitride; great importance of materials science, exemplified by role in medical applications and energy efficiency; CH favouring talking about artificial hips in public talks. [34:40] Remarks on interview process. [35:50] [section closed] Remarks on issues in science in Britain: concern over tuition fees and funding of universities; minister David Sainsbury's previous increases in funding; CH conversations with minister David Willets; few PhD scientists in government; CH potential plans for future; anecdote about difficulties with overhead money from grants impacting on CH research; possibility of CH moving to a different university; CH plans for retirement.

  • Description

    Interview with materials scientist, Professor Sir Colin Humphreys

  • Related transcripts

    Colin Humphreys interviewed by Thomas Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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