UCL News


UCL staff and alumni recognised in King’s Birthday Honours

14 June 2024

Congratulations to members of UCL’s community who have been recognised in The King’s Birthday Honours for their outstanding contributions to mental health care, education, intensive care, the NHS and to global nuclear medicine, public service and virology.

the honorees

The King’s annual Birthday Honours list recognises the incredible public service of individuals from across the UK in a range of sectors, and this year includes several UCL staff, alumni, and members of our wider community.

Professor Peter Fonagy OBE (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences) was honoured as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to mental health care for children and young people.

Professor Fonagy is the Head of the UCL Division of Psychology & Language Sciences and is a pioneering psychologist who has received many lifetime achievement awards, including those from the British Academy, the World Association for Infant Mental Health and the British Psychological Society. He also serves as the Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre, a leading charity for children’s mental health.

Professor Fonagy’s research focuses on the development of attachment relationships and mental health conditions. He has pioneered psychological therapies for severe and persistent mental disorders, including addressing self-harm, suicide and aggression.

He currently heads a major project that works alongside disadvantaged communities to improve adolescent mental health. He is also leading UCL’s component of a nationwide partnership that brings together universities and the NHS to build a closer relationship with local mental health services, aiming to enhance support for university students.

Professor Fonagy said: “It is wonderful to be recognised, but this recognition truly belongs to the many colleagues whose brilliance, support, and kindness have enabled any achievement. I am deeply grateful for the award. Working to address mental health issues that so many, including myself, have struggled with has been my life's privilege.”

Professor Liz Varga (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering), Professor of Complex Systems and director of UCL’s Infrastructure Systems Institute, was appointed a CBE for services to critical infrastructure.

Her institute investigates the resilience, sustainable innovation, and efficiency of integrated transport, energy, water, waste and telecommunications systems, using digital approaches including digital twins, computational ontologies, artificial intelligence, and models.

Professor Varga is also a director of UKCRIC Limited, the consultancy arm of the Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) where she is an executive member of the 15-university collaboration. Professor Varga is a Manchester Prize finalist for a collaborative UKCRIC Limited project to create a viable AI product for water leakage prediction, called gAIn Water.

She is also a commissioner with the National Preparedness Commission, and the project manager for ISO22372, a forthcoming international standard on infrastructure resilience.

Professor Varga said: “Essential services provided by critical infrastructure have never been more important to drive inclusion and well-being globally. Yet decision makers at all scales face increasing challenges from climate change, ageing infrastructure, and man-made hazards whilst they transition critical infrastructure toward sustainable and viable solutions.  I hope that the CBE honour will allow me an even greater voice to have impact so that both current and future generations can secure much needed essential services.”

Professor Qing Gu (IOE, Faculty of Education and Society), Professor of Leadership in Education and Director of UCL Centre for Educational Leadership, was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), for services to education. 

Professor Gu is a leading authority on teachers' work and lives, school improvement, and educational systemic change in the UK and internationally. She has led numerous government, research council and charity funded projects exploring complex issues such as why teachers leave and return to the profession and how to best support early career teachers’ resilience and effectiveness.

Since 2018, Professor Gu has served as Director of UCL’s Centre for Educational Leadership, the UK’s largest university-based centre for research, teaching, development and innovation in educational leadership.

More recently, Professor Gu has led a large-scale ESRC Global Challenges Research Fund project investigating the role of schools as enabling spaces to improve learning and health-related quality of life among primary school children in rural South Africa.

Commenting on her honour, Professor Gu said: “I feel truly humbled and overwhelmed to be nominated for this national honour in recognition of my services to education. I am immensely grateful to many inspirational and talented colleagues, school leaders and teachers whose passion, professionalism, and support have inspired me to pursue a meaningful career in education and academia.

Professor Mervyn Singer (UCL Medicine) was appointed an OBE for services to intensive care. Professor Singer is Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at UCL, Director of the Bloomsbury Institute for Intensive Care Medicine, and a critical care consultant at UCLH.  

Among his achievements are the development of an oesophageal Doppler monitor of the circulation now used in 30 countries, the UCL Ventura CPAP used during the COVID-19 pandemic to aid those in respiratory failure, and various hefty textbooks. He is currently working on two novel drugs and new diagnostics for critically ill patients.

Professor Singer said: "It's great to be recognised in the King's Birthday Honours list. I'm delighted personally and also because of the huge contribution made by all the wonderful people I've worked with over the years both at UCL and UCLH."

Professor Jamshed Bomanji (UCL Medicine) was appointed an OBE for services to the NHS and to global nuclear medicine. Professor Bomanji is the clinical lead and head of department at the UCL/UCLH Institute of Nuclear Medicine. He has contributed and published more than 339 research and clinical papers in peer-reviewed journals, authored 20 book chapters and is the editor of Nuclear Medicine Communications.

Professor Bomanji, who is an Honorary Professor of Nuclear Medicine at UCL, said: “I’m hugely grateful for this recognition and I thank all the staff members at the Institute of Nuclear Medicine. I couldn’t have done any of this without them.”

Professor Shane Johnson (UCL Security & Crime Science), Professor of Future Crime, was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), for public service.

Professor Johnson directs the Dawes Centre for Future Crime at UCL and co-directs the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Cybersecurity at UCL. He has published over 150 research articles, has a Chief Constable’s commendation for his work on what works to reduce crime, and is a member of the scientific advisory boards of the UK Home Office and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law.

He said: “I have to say that it was a real surprise to get the letter, and I’m delighted and honoured to be recognised for the work we do to help to reduce both traditional crime and that which may be facilitated by emerging and future technologies.”

Professor Paul Griffiths (UCL Infection and Immunity), Emeritus Professor of Virology, was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), for services to virology.

Since qualifying in Medicine from the University of London in 1977 followed by M.D. in 1982, Professor Griffiths has become a leading expert in the field of virology, particularly that of herpesvirus infections. His research has explored the effect of cytomegalovirus in immunocompromised renal, liver and bone marrow transplant patients, as well as the potential interaction between herpesviruses and HIV. 

More recently, Professor Griffiths conducted a vaccine trial for cytomegalovirus as part of long term collaborations with the transplant teams at the Royal Free campus. 

He served on the government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation for eight years and remains Chair of the Department of Health WHO committees on eradication of poliovirus and measles. He is Editor of Reviews in Medical Virology and also Patron of the charity CMV Action.

He said: “Obviously I am delighted to get this award. It was a complete surprise. It is for research work which my team and I have done into cytomegalovirus – a condition which is harmless in many, but which can be fatal if you’re pregnant or have just had a transplant.

“Hopefully the award will bring more attention to this neglected disease.”

Congratulating the recipients, Professor Geraint Rees (Vice-Provost UCL Research, Innovation & Global Engagement) said: “It is a pleasure to see so many accomplished UCL colleagues recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours list this year. Their pioneering research, whether that be in education or intensive care medicine, and invaluable contributions to their respective fields exemplify the best of UCL’s incredible academic community.”

Other awards to UCL alumni, former staff, honorary degree holders and other members of our community presented in this year’s King’s Birthday Honours list include:

  • Nica Burns OBE, (Law), was awarded an CBE for services to Theatre
  • Dr. Amar Shah, (Clinical Medicine), was awarded an OBE for services to Healthcare Improvement
  • Lucy Elizabeth Lytle (AKA Lulu Lytle), (Egyptology and Ancient History), was awarded an OBE for services to British Manufacturing and Craftsmanship
  • Pradip Patel, (Pharmacy), was awarded an MBE for services to the NHS



  • Top row (L-R):  Professor Peter Fonagy, Professor Qing Gu, Professor Jamshed Bomanji
  • Bottom row (L-R): Professor Liz Varga, Professor Mervyn Singer, Professor Shane Johnson, Professor Paul Griffiths

Media contact 

Sophie Hunter

Sophie.hunter [at] ucl.ac.uk