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Durham University News



Durham Honours the Ultimate Travel Writer and Nobel Laureate for Science

(30 June 2004)

The University of Durham confers two honorary doctorates this week on people who have made outstanding contributions to their areas of expertise: the ultimate travel writer Bill Bryson, and Professor Sir Harry Kroto, nobel laureate for science.

Sir Kenneth Calman, Vice Chancellor of the University, confers the degrees at Durham Cathedral on Friday 2 July. Bill Bryson will receive an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree at the 11.15 a.m. ceremony and Professor Sir Harry Kroto an honorary Doctor of Science degree at the 2 p.m. ceremony.

Both men will also spend time during the day with graduating students and staff in the relevant departments. Sir Harry will give a lecture entitled 2010: a NanoSpace Odyssey to an invited student audience at the Dept of Chemistry prior to his ceremony.

Sir Harry, President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, is renowned for his striking personal contribution to the promotion of science engaging people from all walks of life, inspiring science and government officials as well as schoolchildren. Last autumn he worked with Manchester United stars at their training ground along with 300 local children paralleling the molecule C60 with footballs which are the same shape.

Bill Bryson will present academic achievement awards following his ceremony to graduating students at the Dept of Earth Sciences. During his visit, he will also tour the Arthur Holmes Laboratory named after the first Professor of Geology at Durham who was widely respected for his innovative views of Earth's plates and the dynamics between them. Arthur Holmes is amongst the distinguished scientists highlighted in Bryson's award winning book A Short History of Nearly Everything which recently won The Aventis General Prize for Science Books.

Sir Kenneth Calman, Vice-Chancellor said, "The University recognises the outstanding talents and achievements of these internationally acknowledged individuals. We are delighted to welcome them into our family of honorary graduates and look forward to celebrating their expertise and accomplishments.

Photo Opportunity Friday 2 July at Chapter House, Durham Cathedral. Bill Bryson will be available for photographs at 10.30 am prior to his 11.00 am ceremony.

Sir Harold Kroto will be available for photographs at 2.45 pm following his 2.00 pm ceremony.

Further information Jan Cawood, Public Relations Officer University of Durham Tel: 0191 334 0018 or 0191 334 0017

Biographical Details

DCL Bill Bryson
One of the world's most beloved and bestselling writers
Born in Iowa in 1951, a backpacking expedition brought him to England in 1973 where he met his wife and decided to settle. He wrote for The Times and The Independent for many years, writing travel articles to supplement his income. The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson's hilarious first travel book, chronicles a trip in his mother's Chevy around small town America. Since then, he has written several bestsellers about the UK and the US. His latest book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, takes his ultimate journey-into the most intriguing and consequential questions that science seeks to answer from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization.

DSc Professor Sir Harry Kroto
Nobel laureate for Chemistry and an ambassador for science
Internationally acknowledged and honoured for his achievements in chemistry research, Sir Harry Kroto excels also as a champion for the appreciation and understanding of science. He has been based at the University of Sussex since 1967 where he is a Royal Society Research Professor. His pioneering work has uncovered extensive new knowledge about chemical structures. He gained a Nobel Prize in 1996, and was knighted the same year, for his revolutionary and fundamental discoveries in carbon-based materials, notably the C60 molecule Buckminsterfullerene. He is also a tireless broadcaster and communicator of science.

Notes to Editors

3,000 of the University's new graduates receive their degrees at 12 ceremonies over three days commencing on 30 June and completing on 2 July.

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