L-R: Sir James Dyson OM CBE FREng, Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, HM The Queen, and The Rt Hon Professor Lord Darzi of Denham OM PC KBE HonFREng FRS FMedSci
Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, has today formally joined the highly prestigious Order of Merit. She received the honour at Buckingham Palace during a private audience with Her Majesty The Queen together with the other two new recipients of the OM, who are also both Fellows of the Academy:

  • The Rt Hon Professor Lord Darzi of Denham OM PC KBE HonFREng FRS FMedSci, Paul Hamlyn Chair of Surgery at Imperial College London.
  • Sir James Dyson OM CBE FREng FRS, founder of Dyson.

Dame Ann is the first female engineer to join the Order of Merit (OM), which only has 24 living members at any time. She is only the tenth woman in over 100 years to join the OM, following in the footsteps of some uniquely accomplished women from politics, science and the arts:

  • Florence Nightingale OM RRC – social reformer and statistician
  • Professor Dorothy Hodgkin OM FRS – Nobel Prize winning chemist
  • Dame Veronica Wedgwood OM DBE FBA - historian
  • Mother Theresa Hon OM MC – missionary and humanitarian
  • Dame Cicely Saunders OM DBE FRCS FRCP FRCN – nurse, social worker and physician
  • Baroness Thatcher LG OM PC FRS – Prime Minister
  • Dame Joan Sutherland OM AC DBE – opera singer
  • Dame Ninette de Valois OM CH DBE – ballet dancer and choreographer
  • Baroness Boothroyd OM PC – Speaker of the House of Commons 

Founded in 1902 by King Edward VII, the Order of Merit is a personal gift of the sovereign and recognises exceptional service towards the advancement of the arts, learning, literature and science.

President of the Royal Academy of Engineering since 2014, Dame Ann Dowling is Professor of Mechanical of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, where she served as Head of the Department of Engineering from 2009-14 and is currently a Deputy Vice-Chancellor. As a world authority on combustion and acoustics, she is admitted to the Order of Merit for her exceptional service in advancing the field of mechanical engineering, with almost 40 years of research on aeronautics and energy, particularly in reducing aircraft noise and pollutants from combustion.

Dame Ann says: “I was surprised and delighted to be appointed to the Order of Merit. It is a particular pleasure to share the honour today of being appointed along with Lord Darzi and Sir James Dyson, who are also distinguished Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering. The variety of our work, united by the common thread of engineering, demonstrates the vital role of this field in our modern society.

"It has been an immense privilege today to meet Her Majesty The Queen. I feel very humbled to receive such a special honour that has been awarded to so many wonderfully talented people over the years."

Notes for editors

  1. Professor Dame Ann Dowling is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs, in a programme to be broadcast on Sunday 24 July:
    Desert Island Discs - Professor Dame Ann Dowling
  2. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

    We have four strategic challenges:
    - Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
    - Address the engineering skills crisis
    - Position engineering at the heart of society
    - Lead the profession

For more information please contact:

Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering
T: 020 7766 0636
Jane Sutton