Professor Michele Dougherty is now in position as Head of the Department of Physics at Imperial. Professor Dougherty, who joined the College in 1991, was made Professor of Space Physics in 2004. She was principal investigator for the magnetometer instrument used in the Cassini mission to Saturn, which concluded last September after nearly 20 years.

Professor Dougherty will replace Dr Kenny Weir, who was acting Head of Department. The department that has faced a number of problems with student satisfaction: this year’s national student survey marked Physics as one of the worst-performing departments in terms of satisfaction, with particular issues identified with feedback and marking. In the Complete University Guide, Imperial is ranked last for physics courses in terms of student satisfaction, while Imperial dropped to 30th in the UK in last year’s Guardian rankings, which are heavily weighted towards student experience.

Professor Dougherty has been recognised by the UK Science Council as one of the top 100 living scientists in the UK, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2012, after winning their Hughes Medal in 2008. She was made a CBE in this year’s New Year Honours list. She said “I am very proud to be Head of the Physics Department – it is a great department with fantastic people and I look forward to working closely with them and the College.”

Professor Dougherty is scheduled to be the Head of Department for the next five years.