Leading scientist is inaugurated as Swansea University’s new Chancellor

Professor Dame Jean Thomas has been inaugurated as the new Chancellor of Swansea University.

Professor Dame Jean ThomasThe inauguration ceremony took place on Monday 19 March at Swansea University. 

Professor Thomas is an alumna of Swansea University, graduating with a First Class Honours degree in Chemistry in 1964, from what was then the University College, Swansea. 

She has since enjoyed a stellar career, notably at Cambridge University, where she has held the position of Professor of Macromolecular Biochemistry since 1991. 

In 2007, she was elected as the 38th Master of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and served for 10 years –the first (and still only) female Master since the College was founded in 1473.

She has received numerous awards and honours throughout her career, and has served on many national bodies.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Society, elected in 1986, of the Academy of Medical Sciences and of the Learned Society of Wales; and a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and of the Academia Europaea. She holds honorary degrees and fellowships from several Universities and Colleges, including an Honorary Fellowship from Swansea University, awarded in 1987.

She became a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1993 for services to Science, and in 2005 a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her services to Biochemistry.  

On the occasion of her inauguration, Professor Thomas said: “When I first graduated from Swansea University many years ago, I could not have imagined that one day I would have the honour of serving as its Chancellor. The University continues to achieve and expand, and I am very much looking forward to being part of this exciting ambition as we move towards the Centenary in 2020.”

Swansea University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard B. Davies said: “The inauguration of Professor Thomas coincides with a significant period of growth and change at the University, the purpose of which is to enhance the reputation of the University on a global scale. Professor Thomas is one of the foremost scientists of our time and she is also a Swansea alumna, so she is ideally placed as Chancellor to represent the University’s principles of academic excellence.  I know that Professor Thomas shares our values and we look forward immensely to working with her as we approach our Centenary in 2020 and commence the next stage of the University’s development.”

Professor Dame Jean Thomas succeeds the late Rhodri Morgan, First Minister of Wales, who was Chancellor of Swansea University between 2011 and 2017.