McGagh, Sorensen and McBride-Wright honoured by the King

Article by Kerry Hebden

CHEMICAL engineers John McGagh, Eva Sorensen and Mark McBride-Wright have been recognised and celebrated for their contributions and service in the Order of Australia awards, and the 2023 King’s Birthday Honours list. 

The Order of Australia recognises Australians who have demonstrated outstanding service or exceptional achievement, while the annual King's Birthday Honours mark the extraordinary contributions and service of people across the UK. 

John McGagh, Fellow and past president of IChemE has been made a member of the Order of Australia for his significant service to the mining sector as a chemical engineer. 

McGagh joined IChemE as a student member in 1979 one year before graduating from the University of Bradford with an honours degrees in chemical engineering and management economics. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology Science and Engineering, adjunct professor at the University of Queensland and chair of the Institute of Social Science Research at the University of Queensland.  

McGagh has predominantly worked in the mining and minerals processing industries with a wide range of executive teams and boards to successfully deliver safety improvement and business change at scale.  

“Being awarded the Order of Australia leaves me both honoured and humbled. I am a proud chemical engineer and this has provided me with the opportunity to serve across a diverse range of stimulating and challenging roles,” McGagh said. “Having the opportunity to chair the institution’s centenary project was a highlight. I do believe that we have a proud past, an exciting present and, given the challenges we all face in truly delivering sustainability, I am convinced that for the community of chemical engineers our best work is yet to come! My fellow chemical engineers - keep pushing and stay safe.” 

Eva Sorensen, an IChemE Fellow, received an MBE in the King’s Birthday Honours for her services to education and chemical engineering. Sorensen is professor of chemical engineering at University College London. In 2020 she was appointed head of the department of chemical engineering, becoming the first female to hold this position since the department opened 100 years ago. 

Sorensen is an editor of IChemE’s Chemical Engineering Research and Design journal, having previously held the position of editor-in-chief between 2010-2020. She is a member of IChemE's Education and Accreditation Forum, and was a member of Engineering Council’s Engineering Accreditation Board.    

Sorensen is also a member, and past chair of the Fluid Separations Special Interest Group committee and a member of the Education Special Interest Group committee. Her distinguished career includes representing IChemE on the European Federation of Chemical Engineering’s (EFCE) working party on fluid separations, as well as being a member of the EFCE’s executive board between 2011-2017. She won the IChemE Frank Morton Medal in 2017. 

Sorensen said: "It is a tremendous honour for me to have received an MBE. I became an academic because I enjoy working with the sort of brilliant young people we have at UCL. Over the years, I have taken great satisfaction from seeing thousands of graduates going through our chemical engineering programmes and becoming professional engineers, working in a wide range of sectors. Throughout this time, I have been proud to work with IChemE to promote the discipline, and I hope I have made some contribution to the vital work that chemical engineers are doing in solving some of the pressing global challenges that we are currently facing, particularly on sustainability, climate change and global health.” 

Mark McBride-Wright, an IChemE chartered member, received an MBE for services to diversity, equity and inclusivity in engineering. McBride-Wright holds a PhD in chemical engineering from Imperial College London, and is a recognised diversity and inclusion leader who speaks about psychological safety in inclusive teams. His career has focused on health and safety, working in oil and gas, defence, construction and the facilities management industries for many private and public sector organisations. 

McBride-Wright founded EqualEngineers to spearhead rapid cultural change within the engineering and technology industries, using his health and safety expertise to focus on the benefits of inclusion and belonging, challenging the high male suicide rates within engineering, construction and manufacturing. Since 2017 he has delivered training on inclusion to thousands of engineers and, in turn, positively impacted the diversity and inclusion strategies of universities, engineering employers and institutions. 

“It is an incredible privilege to be recognised in this way for my work in trying to transform the culture of engineering,” McBride-Wright said. “It does not seem that long ago since I helped run the first ever diversity and inclusion survey for IChemE, ten years ago as part of the London and South East Member committee. To now be working full-time as an entrepreneur scaling a business with team members to help service this need is an absolute dream. I genuinely love my work and am so excited for the future!”

Article by Kerry Hebden

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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