Laureation address: Professor John Dudley

Wednesday 22 June 2016


Laureation by Professor Andrew Cameron, School of Physics & Astronomy, for Professor John Dudley, recipient of the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science

Vice-Chancellor, it is my privilege to present for the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, Professor John Dudley.

John Dudley is the Distinguished Professor of Physics (Classe Exceptionnelle) at the Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon, France. He has carried out wide-ranging research at the interface between applied optics and the fundamental understanding of light.

Professor Dudley has had strong connections with St Andrews since his time here as a postdoctoral researcher in the early 1990s, and through his continued research interactions and collaborations. His research is cross-disciplinary and provides key insights into areas as diverse as the rogue waves that may explain seemingly mysterious shipwrecks, and the physics of the communications technologies that power the internet.

John Dudley obtained his honours degree and subsequently PhD at the University of Auckland in his native New Zealand. As I mentioned earlier, his first postdoctoral appointment was here at the University of St Andrews, working on lasers that generate pulses of light with durations in the femtosecond (that is a thousand million millionths of a second). He returned to an academic position in Auckland for six years, then moved to Besançon at the turn of this century to take up a personal chair. His rank there today is the highest in the French academic system – a real achievement for a Kiwi who delivers most of his teaching in French!

Professor Dudley has an outstanding record of service in the academic and wider scientific communities. In 2009 he conceived the idea of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015, and led the initiative through to its formal United Nations declaration in 2013. He coordinated many of the worldwide events in 2015 linking the physical sciences and the arts. Most importantly of all, the IYoL raised awareness of the need to develop sustainable low-cost artificial lighting for the 1.5 billion people around the world, for whom night-time still means darkness.

Professor Dudley is a leader with exceptionally broad intellect and scientific vision. It is a pleasure and an honour to present him for the award of this honorary degree in recognition of his outstanding achievements in photonics and in the communication of science to worldwide audiences.

Vice-Chancellor, in recognition of his major contribution to the physics of light, I invite you to confer the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, on Professor John Dudley.

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