World renowned microbiologist, Professor Hugh Pennington, was invited by Robert Gordon University's Life Sciences Society to deliver a guest lecture at the St Andrew Street building on Thursday 17 February.
Entitled, ‘E.coli, Groundhog Day, and the prevention of Pennington 3', Professor Pennington discussed his extensive experience of food poisoning outbreaks, public inquiries, and disaster science/technology (including space shuttles, Piper Alpha and Nimrod).
Professor Pennington is Emeritus Professor of Bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen. He joined the University as Chair of Bacteriology in 1979, remaining there until his retirement in 2003. In 1996 he headed up the inquiry into the Wishaw E.coli outbreak which claimed the lives of 20 elderly people. His report, ‘Pennington 1', set out a range of recommendations aiming at preventing a similar outbreak, including the formation of the Food Standards Agency. Unfortunately, Professor Pennington was called upon to write ‘Pennington 2' in 2005, following another E.coli outbreak in South Wales.
Since then Professor Pennington has rarely been far from our TV screens or our newspapers, as he is the first port of call for journalists who clamour for his expertise in health and food safety scares.
Professor Pennington said, "On graduation I was advised that disease-causing microbes were finished and that studying them would be a bad career choice. My talk illustrates the truth of Sam Goldwyn's aphorism: 'making predictions is difficult, particularly about the future'."
The Robert Gordon University Life Sciences Society organises regular science-related guest speakers to come and speak at the University. These talks enhance the learning experience provided at the University for students and staff, as well as the public. Marcus White is Chair of the Society. He said, "We are very fortunate to have someone who has made such a remarkable contribution to science and to the health of the nation. My fellow committee members and I have the highest respect and admiration for Professor Pennington."
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