The University of Southampton

Bioelectronics professor awarded MBE in Queen's Birthday Honours

Published: 14 October 2020
Professor Hywel Morgan is Deputy Head of Electronics and Computer Science (Research).

Professor Hywel Morgan from the University of Southampton has been recognised for his services to biomedical engineering with an MBE in the 2020 Queen's Birthday Honours.

The honour celebrates Professor Morgan's contribution as one of the lead developers of a pioneering protective respirator, known as PeRSo, that now has HSE approval for use in healthcare during the pandemic.

Southampton's Professor Paul Elkington has also been awarded an MBE for services to medicine in the birthday honours, marking his commitment to the PeRSo project.

Professor Morgan, Head of the Biomedical Electronics Research Group, says: "It was heartening to be part of a team of academics, clinicians and engineers that came together in a time of adversity, all motivated to protect NHS staff so they could keep caring for patients suffering with COVID-19.

"The team worked round the clock in the early days of the pandemic; the final product would not have materialised without their efforts so this award is for them as well."

The PeRSo project united experts in Electronics and Computer Science, engineering and medicine with industry partners including McLaren, Kemp Sails and INDO Lighting. In March, the partnership turned an idea into a prototype which was then tested on wards and manufactured at scale in less than a month.

The respirator purifies air by drawing it through a highly efficient filter, and then blows it via a tube into the wearer’s hood, which has a clear visor so the entire face is visible. It can be worn throughout a worker's shift and could have a major role to play in achieving the Government's latest PPE strategy, which includes an emphasis on reusable equipment, manufactured in the UK.

The concept was published open-source and made available to other manufacturers and organisations around the world.

Several University of Southampton staff have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, including Professor Stephen Holgate who has been knighted for services to medical research.

Professor Elkington says: "I was completely taken aback when I opened the letter and I’m delighted to accept the award on behalf of everyone who has made PeRSo a reality.

"Although the original PeRSo can be deployed during this pandemic, the work doesn't stop here. We are currently developing new versions that could be worn in a range of other work and care settings, and this award will be further motivation to progress that as rapidly as possible."

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