Strathclyde Engineering Professor appointed MBE

Professor Rebecca Lunn smiling at the camera in the James Weir Building

Professor Rebecca Lunn, of the University’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, has received the honour in recognition of a career which, in addition to her research, has seen her act as a government adviser on energy and a champion of women in engineering.

She set up and leads Strathclyde’s Engineering the Future for Girls programme and was named among the Saltire Society’s Outstanding Women of Scotland in 2015. In 2017, she attended a Downing Street reception hosted by Prime Minister Theresa May to mark International Women’s Day.   

Professor Lunn joined Strathclyde in 2005 and served as Head of Department for five years to 2016.

She said: “I am delighted to be receiving this honour and am particularly pleased to have been able to encourage more women and girls to study and work in engineering.

“We still hear from some girls who apply to attend our Engineering the Future for Girls programme, that they are the only girl in their Physics class. It helps them to realise they are not alone, and that a growing number of young women are seeking careers in engineering. This year we received over 450 applications for the 100 places we have available.

“We also especially seek to have girls attending from schools with historically lower participation in higher education. This is particularly in keeping with Strathclyde’s widening access programme.”

Professor Lunn gained a degree in Mathematics from Jesus College Cambridge before taking a Masters in Engineering Hydrology and a PhD in Civil Engineering from Newcastle University. She then worked at Newcastle, Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh Universities before coming to Strathclyde.        

Professor Lunn’s research focuses on development of low carbon technologies for ground engineering, with a specific interest in tackling energy challenges, including nuclear decommissioning and disposal, geological carbon dioxide storage and production of oil and gas.

Leading researcher

She is an internationally leading researcher in geological disposal of radioactive waste, developing new technologies for grouting of rock fractures and for monitoring and design of engineered barriers. In 2011, she received the Geological Society’s Aberconway Medal in recognition of ‘distinction in the practice of geology with special reference to work in industry.’

She has accrued a career research portfolio worth more than £5 million and is currently leader of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC) £1.3 million SAFE Barriers Research Consortium.

Professor Lunn is Deputy Chair of the committee for the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s (RSE) energy inquiry, launched in June 2017, and was an invited member of the RSE Working Group on Women in STEM, which made recommendations to Scottish Government ministers in 2012. She was a member of the UK Government’s Committee on Nuclear Waste Management for seven years and is currently an invited member of the Scottish Government Working Group on geothermal energy production.

Professor Lunn is a Fellow and Trustee of the RSE and a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers. 

Professor Leo Martin

Recognition has also been given to Professor Leo Martin, the Chair of St Margaret of Scotland Hospice in Clydebank, who is a Visiting Professor at Strathclyde Law School and is taking an MBA at Strathclyde Business School.

Professor Martin received the honour for services to Healthcare and Education. He has been a member of the hospice board for twenty years and its chairman since 2005; he was also the first chair of John Wheatley College in Glasgow.

Several other Strathclyde alumni were also named in the Honours List:

  • Professor Mir Zahedi, Technical Director, Chas A Blatchford & Sons, knighted for services to engineering and innovation
  • Professor Johnathan Gershuny, Nuffield College Oxford. Appointed CBE for services to the social sciences and sociology
  • Dr Fiona Rayment, Director for Fuel Cycle Solutions, National Nuclear Laboratory. Appointed OBE for services to nuclear research and innovation
  • Alastair Storey, Chairman and CEO, Westbury Street Holdings. Appointed OBE for services to the hospitality industry
  • Fiona Larg, Chief Operating Officer and Secretary,University of the Highlands and Islands. Appointed MBE for services to education in Scotland.

In addition, Dame Stephanie Shirley, philanthropist and founder of the FI Group software company, later Xansa, was made a Companion of Honour. She received an honorary degree from Strathclyde in 2014.