Renowned neuroscientist Professor Colin Blakemore has been knighted in the Queen’s Birthday honours for his groundbreaking research in vision and the development of the brain, and for his contribution to scientific policy and outreach.
Currently director of the Centre for the Study of the Senses at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study, Professor Blakemore is widely known for his forthright views on the need for scientists to talk openly about the risks and potential benefits of medical research.
He said of the award: ‘Life has its ups and downs: this is definitely an up! Being a scientist is a delight, but also a privilege. The progress of science depends on the confidence of the public and politicians, and I’ve always believed that scientists have an obligation to share their excitement, their knowledge and also their concerns with the whole of society.
‘Scientists must be prepared to engage in debate and dialogue, even on difficult and challenging issues, if we are to maintain the trust of society and the support of government. I’m especially pleased, then, that this honour has recognised my efforts to contribute to the dialogue between science and society. I hope that it will be seen as recognition for the efforts of all those scientists who devote time and energy to public communication.’
Professor Blakemore joined the School in 2012 where, a year later, he spearheaded the launch of The Human Mind Project, and now leads an international group of leading researchers from the humanities and the sciences who are working together to understand the nature and significance of the human mind. This interdisciplinary project is pioneering collaboration between many fields including those of philosophy, cognitive neurosciences, language studies, social science and evolutionary biology, as well as the visual and performing arts.
Professor Blakemore is also the Principal Investigator for a large (nearly £2m) grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, leading a project entitled Rethinking the Senses, which is aimed at unifying philosophical and scientific approaches to the study of perception.
As an influential scientist, Professor Blakemore is an esteemed speaker and adviser on a number of issues and also a Fellow of the Royal Society. Over the years, his many accolades include ten honorary degrees from British and overseas universities and the Friendship Award, which he received from China in 2012, the country’s highest award for ‘foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to the country’s economic and social progress’.