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Boffinry and Baftas: Brothers' double doctorates

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 Queens 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.

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 Poliakoffs 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 Poliakoffs 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 Kings 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 Professors Wiggley Giggly, Water Bottles and Green Chemistry, Bad Exams and Supercritical Fluids can all be viewed on the Test Tube website at


Contact: Lindsay Brooke
University of Nottingham

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