Professor Gilbert co-developed the Oxford AstraZeneca covid vaccine which was one of the first vaccines available for use in the UK and around the world during the Covid pandemic, credited with saving a million lives.

More than two billion doses have been distributed to at least 170 countries.

“Dame Sarah Gilbert gave us hope during one of the darkest winters, and her work on developing a Covid-19 vaccine is now saving millions of lives worldwide,” said Dr Asel Sartbeava, researcher in Chemistry at the University of Bath, who is herself carrying out ground-breaking work on vaccine technology and who give the oration at the ceremony.

“The story of the development of the vaccine is remarkable and Dame Sarah and her group at the University of Oxford worked around the clock to give hope to humanity. Being a successful scientist and mother of three, Professor Gilbert is also an inspiration to many girls and young women in Science.”

In recent months Prof Gilbert has returned to working on projects to develop vaccines against a number of other emerging pathogens, within the newly formed Pandemic Sciences Institute at the University of Oxford.

Prof Gilbert said: “I am delighted to receive this recognition from the University of Bath. For the last two-and-a-half years many of us have been working to do all that we could to produce a Covid vaccine without thinking about how our work would be evaluated by our peers, so it is very pleasing to know that the work was appreciated.”

The ceremony is part of three days of celebrations marking the graduation of more than 2000 students from 2020 and 2021 who were previously unable to attend in-person events due to the pandemic.

A total of 28 rescheduled ceremonies are taking place, to be followed by the annual summer award ceremonies from 19-22 July.