Boffinry and Baftas: Brothers' double doctorates

15 May 2008 12:08:00.000

An acclaimed Nottingham scientist and his celebrated brother will each receive honorary doctorate degrees - at the same graduation ceremony. Last year each brother was named in the Queen's Honours - and both received the CBE.

The University of Nottingham Research Professor in Chemistry, Martyn Poliakoff CBE FRS, and his brother, the acclaimed playwright and director Stephen Poliakoff CBE, are now to be recognised together for their remarkable contribution to British science and culture.

The brothers will receive Honorary Doctorate degrees from The University of East Anglia in July this year.

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Older brother Professor Martyn Poliakoff, 60, joined The University of Nottingham in 1979. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he is an acknowledged pioneer of 'green chemistry'. The Clean Technology Group, which he leads at The University of Nottingham, is today exploring new ways in which chemistry can deliver environmental benefits. Martyn Poliakoff is also active in promoting collaboration between Chemistry and Engineering.


Last year his Nottingham students and fellow academics held 'PolFest' — a celebration to mark his sixtieth birthday. Professor Poliakoff's enthusiasm for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering is notoriously infectious, and his imaginative and energetic approach to teaching is famed amongst graduates. He will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Science.


Younger brother Stephen Poliakoff, 55, began writing and directing plays at school and was writer-in-residence at the National Theatre by the age of 24. His feature films include 'Runners', 'Close My Eyes' and 'Century' but his favoured medium is television. In 1999 he won the Prix Italia for 'Shooting the Past' and subsequent TV dramas include 'Perfect Strangers' and the Emmy award-winning 'The Lost Prince'.


Stephen Poliakoff's latest TV films 'Capturing Mary' and 'A Real Summer' (BBC TV November 2007) starred talented actor and recent Nottingham graduate Ruth Wilson.


His play 'Breaking the Silence', based loosely on the brothers' Russian grandfather, opens at Nottingham Playhouse on 16 May 2008, and is directed by Esther Richardson. Stephen will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.


Both Poliakoff brothers grew up in London, attended the same schools, and later went to King's College, Cambridge as undergraduates. Professor Poliakoff, who lives at Beeston in Nottingham but conducts research worldwide, insists there is no rivalry with his London-based brother. He said: “I think that the award of Doctorates to the two of us is very imaginative and a great excuse for a big family celebration!”


Brady Haran, filmmaker-in-residence for Nottingham Science City, has produced a series of short films about Professor Poliakoff.  The videos — 'Hello Einstein', 'The Professor's Wiggley Giggly', 'Water Bottles and Green Chemistry', 'Bad Exams' and 'Supercritical Fluids' can all be viewed on the Test Tube website at




— Ends —


Notes to Editors:

The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 70 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.


It provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia.


Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation - School of Pharmacy).


Its students are much in demand from 'blue-chip' employers. Winners of Students in Free Enterprise for four years in succession, and current holder of UK Graduate of the Year, they are accomplished artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators and fundraisers. Nottingham graduates consistently excel in business, the media, the arts and sport. Undergraduate and postgraduate degree completion rates are amongst the highest in the United Kingdom.


Additional information about Professor Poliakoff's work can be found at

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Martyn Poliakoff on +44 (0)115 9513520 , ; or UEA Press Officer Simon Dunford on +44 (0) 1603 592203,
Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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