A MEXICAN cosmologist who has spent 30 years in the North-East trying to unravel the mysteries of the universe is to get a gong.

Professor Carlos Frenk, the director of the world-renowned Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University, has been awarded CBE in the Queen’s birthday honour list.

He studied in Mexico and Cambridge and the early stages of his academic career were spent in the south of England.

Prof Frenk, who is married to Susan and is from Edinburgh, has been in Durham for 30 years and is recognised as a leading scientist in his field.

Three years ago he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Prof Frenk said: “Scientific research is a collaborative enterprise and I view this honour as a recognition not just of the work that I have done, but also of the contribution of my many colleagues over the years, particularly my research students and postdoctoral assistants.

“I trained as a physicist in Mexico City but I have spent the best part of my career at Durham University researching the mysteries of our universe.

“The ultimate goal is to figure out, using the laws of physics, how our universe evolves and, in particular, how, over 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution, the Big Bang gave rise to the wonderful structures such as galaxies that today we see around us.

“In doing so, I have been privileged to collaborate with some very talented people to whom I owe an enormous debt of gratitude for their insights, hard work and inspiration.”

The university, which earlier this year opened a new £11.5m research centre, the Ogden Centre For Fundamental Physics, has an outreach programme to link up with schools and colleges in the area, which is also very important to Prof Frenk.

Professor Stuart Corbridge, vice-chancellor of Durham University, said: “Carlos has helped to inspire generations of researchers and has played an important role in bringing science to the wider public.

“His energy, enthusiasm and talent have helped establish Durham as one of the world’s leading centres of research into fundamental physics and I am delighted to offer him my congratulations, and the congratulations of the university community, on this richly deserved honour.”