Show 61 – First broadcast 31st July 2009
A very physical Vice Chancellor
My guest this week is Professor Keith Burnett FRS, CBE Vice Chancellor of Sheffield University. Keith Burnett was the son of a butcher’s boy who believed in education. After getting qualifications in accountancy during national service, Mr Burnett decided that his son’s education should be paramount. The young Keith Burnett was inspired by experimental science at his Welsh school in Llwynypia in the Rhondda Valley.
He talks about going up to Oxford to a the Welsh Jesus college and his increasing love for physics. He stayed on at Oxford to complete his Phd and then took up an appointment in Colorada before returning to the UK at Imperial College London as a “new blood” lecurer – as I did myself. Then when he started a family he wanted to get out of London and return to Oxford where he headed up a world class atomic physics group. During this time he became a Fellow of the Royal Society (a very prestigious honour) and recieved a CBE for services to physics.
In the intervew, we discuss some of his work on vortices in depth and his enthusiasm for research is clear – he glows as he tells me some very interesting (and a little strange) theoretical ideas. But when I ask how he could have left research to move into running a large scale organisation like Sheffield University, his answers are robust and credible.
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