British diplomat and local archivist among those honoured at summer graduations

British diplomat and local archivist among those honoured at summer graduations

A British diplomat, the Vice Principal of the Royal Society, Aberdeen's city archivist and a renowned theologian will be honoured by the University of Aberdeen at this year's summer graduations.

Sir Peter Bruce is a chemist and Wolfson Professor of Materials at the University of Oxford. He graduated with a BSc in Chemistry from the University of Aberdeen before going on to achieve a PhD. He spent more than 20 years at the University of St Andrews carrying out research in the fields of materials chemistry and electrochemistry and is widely considered a pioneer in research on lithium and sodium batteries. Sir Peter is Vice Principal of the Royal Society, founder and Chief Scientist at the Faraday Institution and Director of UK Energy Storage Hub. He has received numerous awards throughout his career and in 2023, Princess Anne awarded him a knighthood for his services to science and technology.  

Sir Peter will be awarded a Doctor of Science (DSc) on Monday 24 June. 

Jonathan Wilks, who will be awarded with a Doctor of the University (DUniv) on Wednesday 26 June, is a senior diplomat. After completing his BSc Natural Sciences at the University of Durham, he went on to gain his MA Middle Eastern Politics in 2000 and a MPhil International Relations two years later. Jonathan joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1989 as an Assistant Desk Officer Iran in the Middle East Department, working his way up to British Ambassador for a number of countries including Iraq, Oman, Yemen and most recently Qatar. He took up his current position as Registrar of the University of Oxford’s Centre for Islamic Studies in February 2024.  

On Thursday 27 June, Professor Jeremy Begbie will receive a Doctor of Divinity (DD) from the University. Professor Begbie completed his BA in Philosophy and Music at the University of Edinburgh, before graduating with his PhD in Divinity from the University of Aberdeen. His work specialises in the interdisciplinary links between theology and the arts, and he is widely acknowledged to be an early pioneer in this field. Jeremy is an Affiliated Lecturer at Wolfson College, University of Cambridge and Thomas A. Langford Distinguished Research Professor of Theology at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. As well as his extensive work in the field of theology, he is a professionally trained pianist and conductor.  

Thursday will also see Phil Astley receive a Master of the University (MUniv). Phil has served as the City Archivist for Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives for over 16 years. He graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 1990 with a MA (Hons) History with Economic and Social History, before completing his Postgraduate Diploma in Archive Administration. Phil was appointed Assistant Archivist for Orkney Islands Council in 1994 and completed a secondment to Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Winnipeg, Canada in 2001. He spent almost four years as the Records Manager at the University of Aberdeen. As part of Phil’s time at Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives, he has secured UNESCO UK “Memory of the World” recognition for Aberdeen Burgh Registers.  

Professor George Boyne, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: “Next week’s graduation ceremonies provide the opportunity to celebrate the hard work and achievements of our students, and our honorary degree recipients who have all achieved so much in their respective fields. 

“For our graduating students and their families, this is a very proud moment to celebrate all they have accomplished during their time at the University. I hope all our graduates leave feeling inspired to make a positive impact on the world and I wish them the very best of luck for the future.” 

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