Look to the future is the advice from leading scientist

Friday 25 November 2016

As one of the UK’s leading ceramic scientists, Professor Sir Richard Brook has been at the forefront of many technological advances during his career.

This forward-thinking approach was at the heart of his message to students of The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), when he was guest of honour at the school’s annual Speech Day in Leeds Town Hall. Sir Richard is an old boy of Leeds Grammar School, which merged with Leeds Girls’ High School to form GSAL in 2008.

Sir Richard observed that a school with traditions like this connects with past values whilst its focus is on the future. In today’s world where dramatic changes are taking place so rapidly, a balance must be struck between the past and the future.

Drawing on his own experience, he said: “School can help you to find out who you are and what you are good at, and you will continue learning during the years afterwards and build a skill set that matches your inclinations.”

Sir Richard is Emeritus Professor of the University of Oxford’s Department of Materials. He left school in 1956 and obtained a first class degree in ceramics at the University of Leeds, followed by a doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Moving onto the University of Southern California, he stayed in the US for a total of seven years before the offer of a role at the Atomic Energy Research Facility at Harwell brought him back to the UK.

From Harwell, he was drawn back to academia and 14 years as Professor and Head of the Department of Ceramics at the University of Leeds. Three years in Germany followed, based at the Max Planck Society, then a professorship at Oxford University from which he took leave of absence after three years to head up the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. He later became director of the Leverhulme Trust.

Sir Richard is pictured with head girl Eve Munro and head boy Oliver Robinson.

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