A world authority on combustion and acoustics, Dame Ann is a Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Cambridge. After working at Rolls-Royce Bristol, she was appointed to a lectureship at the University of Cambridge in 1979, and has held visiting research posts at MIT in 1999 and Caltech in 2001. She was Head of the Department of Engineering at Cambridge from 2009 to 2014.
In 2002, she was recognised in The Queen's Birthday Honours, receiving a CBE for services to Mechanical Engineering, and again in the 2007 in the New Year's Honours List when she received a DBE for services to science. In the 2015 New Year's Honours, she was admitted to the Order of Merit.
After a degree in mathematics Dame Ann completed a PhD in engineering with Prof John Ffowcs Williams FREng, who led pioneering noise-reduction research on Concorde. Dame Ann led the Cambridge MIT Silent Aircraft project, which published its radical new design concept SAX-40 in 2006 with the aim of raising aircraft industry aspirations. She now leads research on efficient, low-emission combustion for aero and industrial gas turbines and low-noise vehicles, particularly aircraft.
Her work in aeronautics and energy has been recognised by fellowships of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society, as well as foreign associate membership of both the US National Academy of Engineering and the French Academy of Sciences. Ann was awarded the James Watt International Gold Medal by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 2016 and has received honorary degrees from 15 universities including Oxford, Imperial College London and KTH Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm.
In 2004, she chaired the widely respected report produced jointly by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society, Nanoscience and nanotechnologies: opportunities and uncertainties, which highlighted the need for responsible regulation and research around the use of materials at an extremely small scale. The Dowling Review into business university research collaborations, commissioned by the UK government, was published in 2015.
Dame Ann is a non-executive director of BP, a non-executive member of the board of BEIS, and a member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology.