Honorary graduates announced

A Dickens biographer, a Rear Admiral and a Professor of Cybernetics will receive honorary awards at this year’s graduation ceremonies at the University of Portsmouth.

Claire Tomalin, Kevin Warwick & John Lippiett

Claire Tomalin, Kevin Warwick & John Lippiett

Claire Tomalin is the author of many highly acclaimed biographies, including Charles Dickens: A Life published in 2011, just before the bicentenary of Dickens’ birth in Portsmouth.   Portsmouth is celebrating part of its literary heritage this year at numerous events relating to Dickens’ birth and the University is marking this special year and recognising Claire’s work by awarding her an Honorary Doctorate.

Claire’s account of Charles Dickens’ relationship with the actress Ellen Ternan was published in 1990 and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography, the NCR Book Award for Non-Fiction and the Hawthornden Prize.   She has also written biographies of Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Samuel Pepys, Mary Wollstonecraft and Katherine Mansfield, about whom she wrote her play, The Winter Wife.  Her biography of Samuel Pepys won the Samuel Pepys Award and the 2002 Whitbread Book of the Year award.  She receives the award of Doctor of Letters on 16 July.

Rear Admiral John Lippiett CB MBE has had a 36-year career in the Royal Navy where he served in ships from aircraft carriers to minesweepers. John held three jobs as Rear Admiral and was awarded a CB for his service to the Royal Navy and NATO and an MBE for hurricane relief operations in Dominica.

He retired from the Navy in 2003 and became Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust, an organisation with which the University has strong links.  For the last nine years John has led a remarkable project to preserve and display King Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose, together with the extraordinary collection of artefacts that belong to her.  John graduates as a Doctor of Laws on 24 July.

Kevin Warwick is Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, and his award recognises his contribution to the development of cybernetics, artificial intelligence and control engineering, and specifically his support for the University’s own research in this area.

The Professor may be best known for his experiments involving a neuro-surgical implantation into the nerves of his arm, which is linked to a computer to establish benefits for the disabled.  He has also invented an intelligent deep brain stimulator to counteract the effects of Parkinson’s disease tremors.

Another of his projects involves the use of neural networks to drive robots whose brains are made of neural tissue and he was successful with the first purely electronic communication between the nervous systems of two humans.  He graduates as a Doctor of Science on 20 July.

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