Ian Harvey receives the Society of Biology's President's Medal

A love and contribution to Biology in Cambridge alongside 40 years of commitment to Hills Road earns Ian Harvey the Society of Biology's President's medal.

Ian Harvey receiving his medal from Professor Dame Jean Thomas FRS Ian Harvey receiving his medal from Professor Dame Jean Thomas FRS

Ian Harvey, Head of Biology at Hills Road Sixth Form College has been awarded the Society of Biology’s President’s Medal in recognition of his significant contribution to biology in Cambridge, in the wider region and nationally, through his volunteer service for the Society. 

The thoughts of Ian’s colleagues on the Society East Anglia branch committee are summed up by the Chair, Mark Winterbottom. “Ian's incredible and infectious enthusiasm for biology (which he pours out by the bucket load!) has been absolutely inspirational to his fellow committee members, and utterly overwhelming to the many members of the public with whom he has interacted over the years. His passion is built on expert knowledge, and he is equally expert at enabling young and old to realise that biology is fun, fascinating and relevant to our everyday lives. Indeed, he is not an instructor, but an enabler and a facilitator.”


Ian, who was recognised in January 2014 as one of the Science Council’s 100 leading UK practising scientists, has worked to promote biology to all audiences from primary school children through to the general public and the academic community.


In his acceptance speech on receiving the Medal, Ian said “Biology is not just my career, it’s my hobby. There is no greater endorsement than doing owl pellet dissection with a group of 7 year olds and having them say “That was the best lesson ever!” and one lad asking for an autograph.”  One pupil asked “Was that science and if it was, I want to be a scientist.”


Ian also received endorsements for his cultivation of links with other learned societies, setting up the Cambridge Biologists network of over 100 Cambridge-based schools and colleges, HE institutes, research institutes and companies, and creating Cambridge Big Biology Day, which has been a spectacular success seeing 2000 visitors in 2014. Big Biology Day 2015 promises to be even bigger.

Rachel Lambert-Forsyth, Director of Education and Training at the Society of Biology and a former student of Ian’s, delivered the citation at the Society of Biology AGM and added that “Ian is not afraid to ask the difficult questions but is also always available to offer solutions and ideas.  Former students retain a deep-rooted professional regard for the knowledge and motivation he inspires.  He epitomises the principles of public engagement as decreed by the Society of Biology.”


Cambridge is a city at the forefront globally for biology research and in Ian’s words “Where else could we have such a rich biology community, expose our young people to cutting edge science, provide so many opportunities and engage everyone in biology and why it’s so important both now and into the future. Our sixth formers could be the future Crick and Watson, John Walker, Venki Ramakrishnan and Max Perutz. To be a biology teacher in Cambridge is the best job in the world.”

Photograph shows Ian receiving his medal from Professor Dame Jean Thomas FRS, President of the Society of Biology and Master of St Catherine's College, Cambridge.