King graduated in natural sciences at Cambridge University, where she also obtained her PhD in materials. She won a Rolls-Royce research fellowship – also at Cambridge – before accepting a lectureship at Nottingham University. King then moved back to Cambridge to take up one of the first Royal Academy of Engineering senior research fellowships and a university lectureship. She has also been a visiting professor at the universities of Swansea and Newcastle. Since 1994 King has held a series of senior positions in R&D.

Sir Peter Williams, president of the Institute, said he was “very pleased” that a senior industrialist had been appointed as chief executive. “At a time when the links between academia and industry and between science and engineering have been recognised as vital, I can think of no-one better suited to succeed Alun”, he said.

King emphasized that her own career – built on the application of science to engineering – closely reflects one of the central aims of the Institute. “I am very excited to be joining the Institute with its focus on leading-edge physics, industry and the world of education”, she said.

King is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and has been awarded the CBE. She has also received a number of awards for her research.