President & Vice-Chancellor's biography

Vice-ChancellorProfessor Sir Keith Burnett, CBE, FRS, Vice-Chancellor

Professor Sir Keith Burnett became Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield on 1 October 2007. He is an eminent scientist with an outstanding leadership track record.

Before moving to Sheffield, Professor Sir Keith Burnett was Head of the Division of Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences at the University of Oxford. Prior to that he was Chairman of Physics at Oxford, where he enjoyed a successful career of almost 20 years.

His academic career started in Colorado in the United States, as a research associate at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics, he went on to become an assistant professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Colorado. Professor Sir Keith Burnett was a Lecturer in the Physics Department at Imperial College for four years before returning to Oxford in 1987 as a university Lecturer in Physics and Fellow of St John's College.


Professor Sir Keith Burnett was awarded a knighthood in the 2013 New Year's honours list for services to science and higher education.

He received a CBE for contributions to the scientific community in 2004 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001. His research is in the area of ultra-cold atomic physics.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett is a member of the Council of Science and Technology reporting to the Prime Minister and has offered independent advice to government on issues such as its review of postgraduate education. He has also been appointed to the Infrastructure Council which will advise the Treasury on major investments totalling up to £200 billion over five years, including on energy, transport, waste, flood, science, water and telecoms.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett is a member of Universities UK, Yorkshire Universities and the Russell Group. He led the N8 Group of Northern research-intensive universities and is Director of Worldwide Universities Network and Sheffield University Enterprises Limited. He is also a Director of Graduate Prospects Ltd, the Higher Education Careers Service Unit and a member of the Science and Technology Facilities Council.


Married with two children, he also has particular interests in Chinese language and culture.

More from Sir Keith

Read articles and comment pieces from Professor Sir Keith Burnett on his professional website.