Emeritus Professor Allister Ferguson of the University of Strathclyde has been awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours List for services to science and industry.

Professor Ferguson is a professor of photonics in the Department of Physics, founder of the Institute of Photonics at Strathclyde and a senior adviser to the Principal.

He also played a key role, as Deputy Principal for research and knowledge exchange, in the development of the Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC) and the establishment of the relationship between Strathclyde and TIC tenant the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics.

Alumnus, former Strathclyde Students’ Union president and Sikh Foodbank founder Charandeep Singh was also awarded a British Empire Medal.

Professor Ferguson said:

“I was astonished to be awarded the CBE. Indeed, I deleted the original e-main inviting me to accept the award thinking that it was an elaborate scam. The Cabinet Office had to resend the invitation. I am most grateful to the University for providing me with a platform to enable me to achieve the things that I wanted to do. None of these achievements would have been possible without the support of a great many colleagues across all areas of the University over many years.” 

Extraordinary leadership

An alumnus of Imperial College London and the University of St Andrews, Professor Ferguson joined Strathclyde in 1989. He previously held posts at Stanford University, where he worked with Nobel laureates ArtSchawlow and Ted Haensch, the University of St Andrews, the University of Oxford and the University of Southampton.

He was the principal investigator on a Research Councils UK Science Bridges project that brought together four Scottish universities – Heriot Watt, Glasgow, St Andrews and Strathclyde – with two Californian universities – Stanford and Caltech – under the banner of SU2P.

The SU2P collaboration continues funded by the University and industry partners and seeks to extract economic impact of the joint research based through knowledge exchange. He chairs the SU2P Executive Committee.

With two former research students – Graeme Malcolm OBE and Gareth Maker – he founded Microlase Optical Systems Ltd which subsequently became Coherent Scotland ltd. Malcolm and Maker subsequently went on to establish M Squared Lasers Ltd.

He has worked with National Physical Laboratory (NPL) since the early 1980s. He was the recipient of the first NPL Metrology Award in 1983. He was awarded the Robert E Hopkins Leadership Award in 2019 for “for extraordinary leadership creating major international optics and photonics research centers and programs that support the global optics and photonics community”.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the Optical Society of America, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 

Presently Professor Ferguson plays a key role on the Global Environmental Measurement and Monitoring initiative and a pilot project in Glasgow that is developing a dense network of sensors to track greenhouse gas emissions in real-time to assist policymakers.