Professor Dame Julia Higgins at Exeter College
Julia Higgins gave her perhaps unorthodox career progression (from reading Physics at Somerville College as an undergraduate, followed by a doctorate in Physical Chemistry, and ending up as Professor of Polymer Science at Imperial College, London) as an example of the usefulness of conversation between scientists from different backgrounds. It is often when techniques or experiences from one field are applied to a novel problem or situation in a different discipline that a breakthrough is made.
Her position as Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) enabled Dame Julia to give an insight into what makes a successful application for graduate study funding. In her view, the best applications proposed well-considered, interesting, achievable, and useful projects. Professor Higgins is also Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society and spoke of celebrations being planned to mark the organization’s 350th anniversary in 2010. The audience at the seminar enjoyed the opportunity to question Julia Higgins about her diverse experience in an impressive number of areas.