Researcher receives OBE from HRH the Prince of Wales

Professor Deborah Greaves receives her OBE from HRH The Prince of Wales (Credit: PA Images)

A world-leading researcher and role model for women in science and engineering has been presented with her OBE by HRH The Prince of Wales having been awarded the accolade in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Professor Deborah Greaves, Head of the School of Engineering and the School of Computing Electronics and Mathematics at the University of Plymouth, was recognised for her significant contributions to research into offshore renewable energy (ORE).

That work, and leadership at a national level which includes spearheading the £5 million Supergen ORE Hub, is having a direct impact on the expansion of a sector which will play a key role in the UK’s future energy production.

She is also at the forefront of inspiring more women and girls to consider a career in engineering, a profession that has traditionally been male-dominated.

Professor Greaves’ award reflects her impact in both areas, and her nomination was supported by leading figures from both academia and industry. Speaking when the honour was announced, she said: 

“This has come as a huge surprise, and I am of course delighted to receive such personal recognition for my work. However, I am only one part of a much bigger team so this award is also for those I have worked with locally, nationally and internationally, and especially for my family who have and continue to be a great source of support and inspiration.

“I have always been keen to try and improve understanding of the role of engineers, and for people to see that our work is all about creativity and finding solutions for the benefit of society. I have also been passionate about encouraging more women and girls to consider engineering as a profession, and if this award shows in some small way what can be achieved then it can only be a good thing.”

Professor Greaves has been working in the sector for more than two decades, and since arriving in Plymouth in 2008, has continued to cement her position as one of the UK’s foremost ORE researchers.

She has secured in excess of £9m research funding from organisations including the European Union, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and InnovateUK.

She was selected by the EPSRC to head the Supergen ORE Hub, a programme supported by government and industry which aims to pull together leading figures in wave, tidal and offshore wind to share skills and expertise to address the many synergies and research challenges.

At the University, she led the development of the COAST (Coastal, Ocean and Sediment Transport) Laboratory – the flagship research facility within the £19million Marine Building – and in May 2017, was appointed as the inaugural Head of the University’s School of Engineering.

She is founding chair of PRIMaRE (the Partnership for Research in Marine Renewable Energy), a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Women’s Engineering Society, and a member of the RCUK Energy Programme’s Scientific Advisory Committee, and the Offshore Wind Innovation Hub Advisory Board. She has recently edited the new Wiley book, Wave and Tidal Energy.

Professor Kevin Jones, Executive Dean of Science and Engineering at the University, said:

“This accolade is very well-deserved, and a reward for Deborah’s ongoing work to push the boundaries of what can be achieved in the offshore renewable energy sector. It is also very appropriate that it not only reflects Deborah’s status as a world-leading researcher, but also her work to support current and aspiring female engineers to realise what is possible if they choose engineering as a career.”

Solar panel farm

The Partnership for Research in Marine Renewable Energy (PRIMaRE)

PRIMaRE is a network of world-class research institutions based in the west, south, and south west of the UK who undertake research and development to address challenges facing the marine renewable energy industry.

Also honoured in the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours list was Judith Reynolds, who was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to Higher Education. Judith is Project Director for Social Enterprise, within the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre, which has worked at local and national levels, providing both learning opportunities for students as well as support for social enterprise. 

Among its many achievements include working with the British Council, creating partnerships in Eastern India and in Thailand for the furtherance of social enterprise education for students in local universities. Working with SERIO, it also produced an influential survey and report for the British Council on the state of social enterprise engagement in universities worldwide. 

The legacy of that work, for the institution, can be seen in the way that it was the first university in the world to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark.

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This is a national scheme, focused on advancing equality for women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine in higher education.