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Honorary Fellows: Professor Emeritus Alan Miller

Professor Emeritus Alan Miller for outstanding research and support for early career researchers through his leadership of successful new initiatives.

Professor Emeritus Alan Miller gained his BSc in physics from the University of Edinburgh and his PhD from the University of Bath exploring new semiconductors. He then embarked on a research career in quantum materials, lasers, nonlinear optics and ultrafast phenomena at universities in the UK and USA, with a period as SPSO-Individual Merit at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment, Malvern. His expertise includes research policy and strategic planning, with a personal interest in leadership development for early career researchers.

Miller’s research and professional activities have been recognized in the UK, becoming a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), and in the USA, becoming Fellow of the Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and Optical Society of America. He chaired the IOP Semiconductor Physics Group (2003­–2006) and has held multiple roles within RSE, including chair of the Physics Sectional Committee, Research Awards Convener, Fellowship Secretary and as a member of the RSE Board.

Following positions in Texas and Florida, he returned to the UK in 1993. As Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy at St Andrews (1997–2003), he managed a dramatic period of sustained research growth and hugely improved RAE/REF performance. This led to pro-vice chancellor level positions in St Andrews and Heriot-Watt universities with responsibility for research.

Miller’s more recent service to physics includes leadership of the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA). He was the main founder of SUPA in 2004 and has been CEO of this unique strategic partnership since 2015 following Ian Halliday and Sir Jim Hough. The role includes Director of the SUPA Graduate School, now the largest for physics PhDs in the UK. SUPA training exploits the full breadth of expertise in physics across eight Scottish universities. Miller has driven an outward-looking approach to SUPA, with new initiatives to create collaborations across disciplines, expanded relationships with industry and public engagement.

He has been a prominent figure in developing new approaches to skills and leadership training at all levels; for instance, as director of eight international summer schools in physics in Scotland, Italy and Bulgaria and heading new initiatives in generic skills, entrepreneurship and research leadership. His contributions to these initiatives were recognised with the coveted Times Higher Education Award for Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers in 2007 and 2010.

Miller co-created ‘Scottish Crucible’ in 2009, a successful pan-Scotland research leadership programme open to future research leaders from all disciplines. In 2021 and 2022, this grew into ‘European Crucible’, bringing ambitious researchers from across Scotland together with counterparts from 18 European countries to build ambitious multidisciplinary research collaborations.