University of Leicester eBulletin

The Duke of Kent Visits University of Leicester

October 2002
No 212

Launch of new centre     

[Royal association with launch of new partnership in Scarman Centre]

His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent visited the University of Leicester on Tuesday 1 October 2002, 11 am – 2 pm, where he formally opened a new academic centre of excellence and met key University personnel.

This is the third royal visit in five weeks to the University of Leicester, following that of Their Royal Highnesses the Earl and Countess of Wessex who visited the Richard Attenborough Centre in September and His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent who visited the University of Leicester Scarman Centre on Monday 30 September.


HRH The Duke of Kent with Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Burgess on campus
HRH The Duke of Kent, with the Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Burgess, strolling through the University of Leicester campus on the day of the visit to the Departments of Engineering and Genetics.

His Royal Highness was taken by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Burgess, to view the work of the Departments of Engineering and Genetics where he met key personnel.

Speaking of his pleasure at the royal visit, Professor Burgess said: “I am delighted that these members of the Royal Family visited the University. They saw some of the pioneering and highly acclaimed research carried out here, as well as experiencing some of the ways in which the University serves its local community. “The fact that we have enjoyed so many royal visits is an indication of the University’s prestige across this wide range of disciplines.”

HRH The Duke of Kent visits the Department of Engineering
HRH The Duke of Kent in the High Voltage Laboratory of the University's Department of Engineering, where he viewed a 'Jacob's Ladder' - used to demonstrate powerful electric arcs. Left to right, Dean of Science Professor John Fothergill, HRH The Duke of Kent, Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Burgess.

The Duke of Kent first visited the award-winning Grade 2* Listed Engineering Building designed by Stirling and Gowan where he formally opened the new Electrical and Electronic Power Engineering Research Laboratories.


HRH The Duke of Kent with the Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Burgess and Head of Engineering Department Professor Ian Postlethwaite
FORMAL OPENING OF NEW LABORATORIES: Left to right: HRH The Duke of Kent, Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Burgess, and Professor Ian Postlethwaite, Head of Department of Engineering.

Professor Ian Postlethwaite, the Head of Department, briefed him on the work of the Department and demonstrated a flight simulator used to test control systems, just one example from the Control and Instrumentation Group of the prestigious and internationally acclaimed research carried out in the Department.  

The group achieved a world first in Ottawa in 1997 for designing and flight testing an H-infinity controller on a fly-by-wire Bell 205 helicopter and is the centre of ACRnet, the EPSRC-funded network in aerospace control.
HRH The Duke of Kent with flight simulator
During his visit to the University of Leicester's Department of Engineering, HRH The Duke of Kent learnt how a flight simulator is used to test control systems in helicopters.  

After viewing an environmental scanning electron microscope that is used to enhance our understanding of why and how materials fail, His Royal Highness moved to the new Electrical and Electronic Power Engineering Research Laboratories. There he talked to researchers from the High Voltage Group and the Centre for Advanced Electronically Controlled Drives.  The visit culminated in the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the opening of the new laboratories at a cost of £1 million.    

Under the leadership of Professor Charles Pollock, the Electrical and Electronic Power Engineering Research group is renowned throughout the world for its innovative work on machines and power electronics, high voltage insulation and dielectrics, energy conversion and storage and renewable energy. The Centre for Advanced Electronically Controlled Drives, established in Leicester in April 1999, represents a collaboration of about 20 companies, enabling them to share in fundamental research into new electronically controlled motors.
RIGHT: Professor Charles Pollock with HRH The Duke of Kent in the Department of Engineering.

Professor Ian Postlethwaite said:  “This has been an excellent year for the Department of Engineering with several important achievements in research. It was a pleasure to show His Royal Highness some of our activities and for him to open our new laboratories.”

He then moved to the Department of Genetics, where the Head of Department Dr Annette Cashmore and Professor Ed Louis explained some examples of their research using yeasts as model systems to study human disease. The Royal Society Wolfson Research Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, FRS, from the Department of Genetics is currently using molecular genetic techniques to study variation in human and animal DNA and to explore genomic sequence diversity, using loci originally developed for forensic DNA analysis. He shot to fame in 1984 when, at the University of Leicester, he discovered genetic fingerprinting, which has since revolutionised many aspects of biology and science in general, including forensic analysis, paternity testing and analysis of genetic diversity.

The Duke of Kent also met the Wellcome Trust University Award Holder and Reader Dr Yuri Dubrova, who studies the genetic risks of ionising radiation.  In particular he is using data from families exposed to radiation contamination following the Chernobyl disaster.

Finally he met Professor of Medical Genetics Richard Trembath. The Division of Medical Genetics is researching and analysing genes which, when mutated, cause human diseases, including partial lipodystrophy, primary pulmonary hypertension, psoriasis, pendred syndrome and Albright hereditary osteodystrophy.

Dr Annette Cashmore said: “The Department of Genetics continues to be at the forefront of research and this year there have been some major new developments both in our research and teaching programmes. His Royal Highness met with staff and students and heard about some of these developments.”


HRH The Duke of Kent with Dr Celia May and the Vice-Chancellor
ABOVE: Dr Celia May, a Research Fellow in the Department of Genetics, showing an example of DNA to HRH The Duke of Kent and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, Professor Robert Burgess.

His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent was accompanied on his tour of the University by the Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Dr T G M Brooks, JP, The High Sheriff of Leicestershire Mr R A S Everard DL and Mrs Everard, and the Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Leicester, Councillor Mrs M T Bodell-Stagg and her Consort, Mr P Bodell and the Town Clerk of Leicester Mr T Stephenson.

Engineering Department: – Engineering Resources and Facilities, Research Areas.  -  Control and Instrumentation Group  -  Electrical and Electronic Power Engineering Research

Genetics Department:

Selected pages from the website, includes:

Yeast research (Cashmore/Louis)

Genetic variability, mutation and recombination in human and animal DNA (Jeffreys)

Professor Richard Trembath’s Research Group

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Last updated: October 2002
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