19 Jun 2012

Open University Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences is awarded a CBE

The Open University’s Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences, Monica Grady, has been awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Professor Grady, an expert in meteorites, is based in the Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space & Astronomical Research (CEPSAR), The Open University’s flagship interdisciplinary research centre that brings together Physical Sciences and Environment, Earth and Ecosystems. She has worked on the development of instruments to examine the Martian surface, and has contributed to a number of space missions including Stardust, and the European Space Agency’s Exo Mars mission due to launch in 2018.

Professor Grady said: “I am surprised and thrilled by the honour. Space science is so important in this country, not just because it is a really interesting subject to study – which it is – but also because of its other fantastic attributes. The beautiful pictures space scientists produce of stars and planets help to attract young people to the subject.

“And space is a multi-million pound UK industry. The UK is very successful in the design and building of space craft and instruments, which requires highly skilled engineers, scientists and technologists. This honour is not for any great discoveries that have changed the world, but for training students, giving lectures, running committees, helping to develop UK strategies and policies for space and carrying my research forward into my teaching with the support of The Open University.”

Professor Grady also paid tribute to colleagues, family and The Open University, adding: “Space science is not something you do by yourself, it is a team effort.”

Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, said:“I am thrilled that Professor Grady has been honoured in this way. The CBE recognises her amazing commitment to space science and The Open University, her dedication to her students and her contribution to increasing public understanding of the subject.”

Professor Grady worked at The Open University from 1983 to 1991, when she left to lead the Meteorite Team at the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London. She returned to The Open University in 2005 and became Head of the new Department of Physical Sciences in 2011. She is a contributor to courses S104 Exploring Science and S288 Practical Science, and retains her affiliation with the NHM as a Scientific Associate.

The CBE is not the first accolade Professor Grady has received. Asteroid 4731, discovered in 1981, was named ‘Monicagrady’ in her honour.

About The Open University
The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.7 million students and has more than 264,000 current students, including 18,000 overseas.

The OU has been one of the top three UK universities for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey every year since the survey began in 2005. In 2010/11 it had a 93 per cent satisfaction rating. Over 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and four out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses. In the UK’s latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) the Open University was ranked in the top third of UK higher education institutions. More than 50% of OU research was assessed in the RAE as internationally excellent, with 14% as world leading.

Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units on OpenLearn, which has had more than 21 million visits, and materials on iTunes U, which has recorded over 50 million downloads. The OU has a 41 year partnership with the BBC which has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to prime-time programmes such as Frozen Planet, The Secret History of Our Streets and Empire.


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