Internationally-renowned atmospheric physicist, Professor Huw Cathan Davies awarded Honorary Doctorate

16 July 2015

(Left to Right) Sir Emyr Jones Parry, Chancellor of Aberystwyth University presents an Honorary Doctorate to Professor Huw Cathan Davies OBE
(Left to Right) Sir Emyr Jones Parry, Chancellor of Aberystwyth University presents an Honorary Doctorate to Professor Huw Cathan Davies OBE

Internationally-renowned atmospheric physicist, Professor Huw Cathan Davies OBE, has been awarded with an Honorary Doctorate by Aberystwyth University.


Professor Davies, who is originally from Amanford, graduated with a degree in Applied Mathematics from Aberystwyth University in 1965, before obtaining his PhD from the University of London.

He served as a lecturer in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading and as a National Academy of Science Researcher at NASA Institute in Virginia.

A Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society and Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Atmosphere and Climate Science, at ETH - the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Professor Davies has also held positions as a member of the Swiss National Research Council and the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council.

Professor Huw Cathan Davies OBE was presented with an Honorary Doctorate on Thursday 16 July by Professor Chris Thomas, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Research.

Presentation of Professor Huw Cathan Davies

Canghellor, Is-Ganghellor, darpar raddedigion, gyfeillion. Pleser o’r mwyaf yw cyflwyno Huw Cathan Davies yn Ddoethur er Anrhydedd Prifysgol Aberystwyth.

Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, prospective graduates and supporters. It is an honour and a privilege to present Huw Cathan Davies for an Honorary Doctorate of Aberystwyth University.

Professor Dr Huw Cathan Davies is Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Atmosphere and Climate Science, at ETH - the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

ETH Zurich is one of the very best universities in the world for engineering, science and technology with many nobel prize winners and notable alumni, including Albert Einstein no less.

It is in this heady environment that Professor Davies has had a long and distinguished career, holding a professorship since 1982, and serving as head of the Institute for Atmospheric Science & Climate and of the Department of Environmental Sciences. He retired from his position as Professor of Atmospheric Dynamics in 2009, since when, like most distinguished academics, he seems to have become busier than ever.

Professor Davies was born in Ammanford in Wales. He received his BSc in Applied Mathematics from Aberystwyth in 1965, after which he studied at Imperial College where he was awarded his Diploma and a PhD from the University of London. Prior to taking up his professorial appointment at the ETH he was a Lecturer at the University of Reading and a US National Academy of Science Researcher at NASA.

His research focuses on the dynamics of weather-related flow phenomena, numerical weather prediction, atmospheric transport processes, and the linkage between weather systems and climate variability.  It is geared to both understanding the physical processes and to prediction. In the face of climate change, this is research of global significance.

But this is a challenge requiring networks of researchers and Professor Davies has been incredibly active as leader, galvanising activity in his field. It is this, in addition to his personal research, that we particularly wish to recognise today. 

Within Switzerland Professor Davies was a founder member of the Swiss Academy of Science's Forum for Global and Climate Change, a member of the Governmental Consultative Commission on Climate Change, the head of the national research programme on “Climate and the Environment in the Alpine Region”, a member of the Executive Board of National Competence Centre for Climate Research, and a member of the Swiss National Research Council. Currently he is the chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Centre for Climate System Modelling.

In the UK he has been a council member of the Natural Environment Research Council, served on their Scientific Board, and chaired the panel evaluating their Research Centres.

In 2010 he was a member of the international scientific panel set up to examine the research of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, where you may remember there had been some controversy. Currently he is the Chairman of the UK Met Office Scientific Advisory Committee.

Internationally his activities include serving as President both of the International Commission for Dynamical Meteorology and of the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, chair of major project Scientific Advisory Boards, and as a member of the Joint Committee of the World Weather Research Programme.

This outstanding contribution is well known to the academic community around the world. However, this is Aberystwyth. The rest of the world is apparently related to each other by 6 points of connection, but here it is usually no more than 1. So, in addition to these academic achievements, I am reliably informed that Professor Davies is also the best cricket playing grandad in the world.

Professor Davies has been the recipient of many honours, which I will not list here, save one: In 2011 he was awarded the OBE for service to science in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Chancellor, it is my absolute pleasure to present to you Huw Cathan Davies for an Honorary Doctorate of the University of Aberystwyth.

Canghellor, mae’n bleser gen i gyflwyno Huw Cathan Davies i chi yn Ddoethur er Anrhydedd Prifysgol Aberystwyth.

Aberystwyth University Honours 2015

Twelve individuals are being honoured by Aberystwyth University during the 2015 graduation ceremonies, which take place at the University’s Arts Centre from Tuesday 14 July until Friday 17 July.

Eight Honorary Fellowships will be presented to individuals who have, or have had a connection with Aberystwyth or Wales, and who have made an outstanding contribution to their chosen field.

Two Honorary Doctorate degrees will be presented to individuals who have been outstandingly successful in their field, or who have a long record of renowned research and publication.

Two Honorary Bachelor degrees will be presented to individuals who are members of Aberystwyth University staff without an entry-level degree in recognition of long-service, contribution and dedication to the Institution; and members of the local community who have made a significant contribution to Aberystwyth and the area.

Also being honoured are:

Honorary Fellowships:

•        Eurwen Richards, former President of the Society of Dairy Technology and first female Cheese Master in the UK.

•        Professor Robin Williams CBE, researcher in semiconductor physics, Fellow of the Royal Society and former Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University.

•        Professor Miguel Alario-Franco, researcher in solid state chemistry and former President of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Spain.

•        Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and the Wales Office and an alumnus of Aberystwyth University.

•        Debbie Moon, BAFTA award-winning creator and writer of the television series WolfBlood, contributor to the Hinterland television series and an alumnus of Aberystwyth University.

•        Dr Francesca Rhydderch, Award-winning novelist, former editor of New Welsh Review and Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Swansea University.

•        Dr Lyn Evans, researcher in high energy physics and leader of the team that designed, built and commissioned the Large Hadron Collider.

•        Iolo Williams, wildlife television presenter of more than 20 series for the BBC and S4C including Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch, and former RSPB Species Officer for Wales.

Honorary Doctorate Degrees:

•        Dylan Iorwerth, award-winning poet and author, radio and television presenter, founder and Directing Editor of Golwg Cyf and an alumnus of Aberystwyth University.

Honorary Bachelor Degrees:

•        Bryn Jones, co-ordinator of the Penparcau Community forum and founding member of local arts and healthcare group ‘HAUL’.

•        Rhian Phillips, former Head teacher of Plascrug Primary School and International Schools Learning ambassador for Wales.

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Arthur Dafis, Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs, Aberystwyth University
01970 621763 / 07841979452 / aid@aber.ac.uk