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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Professor Wilson Poon

IAS Fellow at Grey College, Durham University (January - March 2020)

Contact

Wilson Poon is Professor in Condensed Matter Physics at the University of Edinburgh. He obtained his PhD from St John's College, University of Cambridge in 1988. He has held positions at the University of Cambridge; and the Cavendish Laboratory and Portsmouth Polytechnic. He joined the University of Edinburgh as Lecturer in 1990, became Senior Lecturer in 1997, and was appointed Professor in 1999. Professor Poon is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (1999); and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2004). He has been the recipient of an EPSRC Senior Research Fellowship (2007-2012); a Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award (2013-2018) and a European Research Council Advanced Grant (2014). He also holds a Chair of Natural Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh (2016).

Professor Poon is regarded as one of the most imaginative and interdisciplinary scientists working in the UK today. He has written on a broad area of science, science policy, theology, medieval studies, language and philosophy. As a soft matter experimentalist he has been responsible for many breakthroughs in the field. He is internationally known for his work using very well characterised, 'model' colloids to study phenomena that are ubiquitous across condensed matter and statistical physics, particularly the structure and dynamics of arrested states such as glasses and gels. His discovery of the double glass transition in colloids is seen as remarkable. His more recent work on bacteria as active colloids is ground-breaking and leading.

Professor Poon has been the recipient of significant research funding and has attracted over £15m. He is also very much in demand as an invited speaker, and has delivered more than 70 invited lectures.

He is widely published, and also serves as Associate Editor of Science Advances, and as Editor of Advances in Physics X.

With his expertise on bacteria, Professor Poon is an integral part of the Durham research project, Material Imagination, led by Professor Tiago Moreira (Sociology) and Dr Margarita Staykova (Physics). Research on living materials is in its very early stage. By fusing bacteria to artificial membrane interfaces, it is hoped this project will establish Durham’s position in this young field and drive its further development. In addition, by applying an open innovation model, based on participatory design, to the research on smart materials the project team expect to demonstrate a new route for innovation for society and create new modes of public engagement in science, giving Durham University a leadership position in RRI studies. The research methodology can be applied to other fields of scientific research, and the participation of Professor Poon with his wide research interests provides a perfect ground to explore this.

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - The most beautiful book in Scotland: Regime Change, Reformation and Rebellion on Parchment

19th February 2020, 17:30 to 18:30, Grey College

Abstract

The collection of medieval manuscripts in Edinburgh University Library includes a 15th century book of hours (or ‘primer’) produced in the south of England ca. 1430 (listed as MS 39 in the catalogue). The early-20th century pioneering codicologist Catherine Borland, who catalogued all the western medieval manuscripts not only in EUL but also in the National Library of Scotland, opined that this was ‘perhaps the most beautiful book in Scotland’. Yet the manuscript, which was owned exclusively by prosperous medieval grocers for at least one whole century of its early existence, has remained little studied. I will give a brief description of this sumptuous manuscript, and then show how three iconic moments of British history have been ‘fossilised’ into its pages by marginalia and other material traces left by successive owners: the ousting of the Lancastrian Henry VI by the Yorkist Edward IV, the attempt by Henry VIII to erase Thomas Beckett from the English religious memory, and the only military victory scored by the Scottish Covenanters against Charles II's Royal forces. I will end by speculating on a possible link between this manuscript and the first great English composer of polyphonic church music, John Dunstaple (or Dunstable).


Directions to Grey College

MapGrey College is denoted as building No. 8

Contact enquiries.ias@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.

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