Professor Roberts, academic, writer and broadcaster received her award at a graduation ceremony at Bath Abbey on Saturday 7 May.
Professor Roberts is the University of Birmingham’s Professor of Public Engagement in Science and is a member of the Advisory Board of Bath’s Milner Centre for Evolution, which seeks to promote the public understanding of evolution alongside its research.
Addressing graduates and their families at the ceremony, Professor Roberts shared stories of meeting indigenous communities on her filming travels, relating how these encounters had made her think differently about her own science, society and culture.
She said: “The real value of what you have learned at University will emerge when you pass it on……It’s what humans do, it’s how human societies work, and it is how we find, how we create the meaning in our own lives. Connections with other people, the way that we learn knowledge and pass it on are perhaps the greatest gifts that we have, they go right to the heart of what it is to be human.”
Professor Roberts is well known for her writing and presenting, including The Origins of Us, Ice Age Giants and Digging for Britain. She has written numerous popular science books, including The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being, shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2015.
Matthew Wills, Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology in the University’s Department of Biology & Biochemistry, gave the oration for Professor Roberts at Bath Abbey, saying: “Ten years ago, Alice became the University of Birmingham's first Professor of Public Engagement in Science, and it is for her work in this sphere, as well as for her scientific research, that we particularly honour her today.
“The events of the last three years have underscored the value of scientific research for public health and wellbeing, but equally the vital importance of scientific literacy for all of us…..Professor Roberts has done immeasurable public service by lending her support to Independent SAGE and other panels of experts advising caution in our emergence from the pandemic.”
The ceremony was part of two days of celebrations marking the graduation of over 1,200 students from 2020 and 2021 who were previously unable to attend in-person events due to the pandemic.
A total of 28 re-scheduled ceremonies will replace those postponed from 2020 and 2021 (to continue on 10-11 June and 14-16 July), followed by the University’s annual summer award ceremonies from 19-22 July (14 ceremonies).