Brian May Acceptance – Hon Doctor of Science – Hull University [Transcript and Citation]


Brian May’s ACCEPTANCE SPEECH for award received today via video link. CITATION follows below Brian’s speech.  MORE INFORMATION about Brian’s award HERE.

Brian May acceptance  – Doctorate of Science, honoris causa – Hull University 14/07/022

The honour was confered on Brian today by the University. Presenting Officer was Professor Brad Gibson from the Faculty of Science and Engineering . 

Transcript by Jen Tunney

“My Lady and Chancellor, fellow Graduates of the University of Hull and your family and friends who are with you as you celebrate your achievements today.

Vice Chancellor, distinguished guests and the University staff taking part in the ceremony’s proceedings.

It is my honour to accept the Degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

I’m sorry that my commitments prevent me from celebrating with you in person today but let me stress that it’s with great pleasure that I accept this award. Please be assured that my virtual presence doesn’t lessen the pride and honour that I feel in graduating alongside the University of Hull’s Science and Engineering’s Class of 2020.

Let me start by congratulating you all wholeheartedly on achieving your Undergraduate, Masters or Doctoral Degrees. Your hard work and determination has resulted in a valuable qualification that will help open doors to better career opportunities, higher skilled jobs or further studies and, of course, you will have made many friends for life along the way as I have. Very well done to you all.

When I embarked on my Scientific career as a Physicist at Imperial College in 1965 I didn’t really appreciate that there would be a 40-year musical interval causing a delay in the completion of my Doctorate in Astrophysics until 2007. My keen passion for the subject hadn’t waned along the way nor had my desire to fulfil my academic journey, so I hope that this inspires you in some small way, as you follow your own journey and have your own hiccups and discover that you can achieve albeit sometimes with a little patience thrown in along the way, you can achieve what you wish for.

I imagine some of you may be sitting here today facing your own career uncertainties. It might be worth stating the obvious but it remains true that there really is no single correct path for you to take any more than there was for me. If I may offer my advice I would say, when you make a step, make a big one.  You can always come back make another big one later.

You graduate today having accrued high level technical skills in the Sciences, such as Engineering and Mathematics. These skills and knowledge that you’ve obtained are in high demand and you will know that as part of its modern industrial strategy the Government made a commitment to putting STEM at the heart of Education Policy and at the foundation of our country’s future economic success.  Put simply our country is actually desperate for highly skilled and able Scientists like you. 

You have also gained other important softer skills during your academic journey and I’d like to take a moment to stress that these softer skills are just as crucial as your academic abilities.  By this I mean those skills which allow you to integrate seamlessly into a society rife with different views. Your ability to enhance tolerance, welcome diversity and promote peace and ethical behaviour, and to support Humanity’s quest for knowledge and understanding is a powerful by-product of the outstanding education you’ve received at Hull these soft skills are critical for society and I hope you will embrace that responsibility alongside the fundamental academic skills you’ve acquired.

If I can add my own personal feelings, I think qualities of compassion and forgiveness would be very important in the years to come. With this in mind I would ask that you move forward in life as positive ambassadors and role models for the University of Hull, as I will be.

And never forget the support and sacrifices assumed by your families, guardians and friends throughout your education. It’s a good time to say thank you to them.

It would be remiss of me not to thank my Presenting Officer: Professor Brad Gibson, and also the E A Milne Centre for Astrophysics for their support.

Hull and its surrounding region is fortunate to have a team so committed to widening participation and diversity and I look forward to being associated with the Centre and sharing in that passion.  I hope to be able to meet some of the staff and students soon at the Centre and I will endeavour to visit the University of Hull when my touring schedule permits.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the University’s Chancellor for the honour that she has bestowed on me and also congratulate my Fellow Graduates once again on the successful attainment of your Degrees.

I’m proud, very proud to join you as Fellow Alumnus of the University of Hull.  I wish you every success every happiness in your future careers.

Many thanks.”

Brian May


– read by Presenting Officer: Professor Brad Gibson from the Faculty of Science and Engineering 

My Lady and Chancellor:

Dr Brian May is perhaps best known as the Guitarist of Queen, and one of the most influential rock musicians in the world for the past 50 years.

The same passion that has fueled this artistic career also drives his remarkable commitment to inspiring the next generation of scientists, through an ambitious programme of science promotion, outreach, and education.

After graduating from Imperial College London in 1968 with a degree in Physics & Mathematics, Brian commenced his PhD at Imperial, investigating the origin, motion, and composition of the primordial dust involved in the formation of our Solar System. After a rather well-documented 30-year foray into the music industry, Brian returned to Imperial to complete his PhD in 2007. The three scientific papers which formed the basis of his doctoral work have each had a significant and lasting impact on the field of Solar System physics. After the completion of his PhD, Brian contributed to

NASA’s New Horizons Pluto Mission as a member of the Science Team and served as Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University.

A legendary music career and high-impact science contributions, are but two arrows in Brian’s quiver; indeed, it is his extraordinary commitment to science education and public outreach which has brought Brian to us today, and it is that commitment which has allowed my own path, and his, to cross over the years.

Brian is the co-author of a number of popular science books, including one of the best-selling science books of the past 15 years – Bang!-A Complete History of the Universe, co-written with Sir Patrick Moore and BBC Sky at Night host, Chris Lintott. He is the co-founder of Asteroid Day, and his contributions to popularising Solar System science resulted in the International Astronomical Union formally naming an asteroid after him.

Space and astronomy remain powerful enablers of the Digital Economy which provides the foundation for the country’s Industrial Strategy, and perhaps more importantly, a true passion for the public. With the launch of the E.A. Milne Centre for Astrophysics, the University of Hull has committed to an ambitious programme of school and college engagement, in a region of the country crying out for investment and the raising of aspirations; working alongside Brian to achieve these goals, and acknowledging his already remarkable educational contributions, is one of the true joys of my privileged position at the University of Hull.

It would be impossible to list all of Brian’s awards and honours, but I think it important to note several of the highlights, to provide additional context to the honour we are bestowing today – these include being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, being awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, receiving the Lawrence J. Burpee Medal of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and being appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

My Lady and Chancellor, I am delighted today to be able to present Dr Brian May for the award of the Degree of Doctor of Science, honoris Causa.