Professor Prager formally took up the position on 1 December 2018, succeeding Dr Claire Barlow, who became interim Head of the Department when Professor David Cardwell left the position in the summer. Professor Cardwell, who led the Department for four years, is now Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Strategy and Planning.
Academic freedom is a key strength of the Cambridge culture, but it is under threat from external pressures. My priority as Head of Department is to celebrate this strength and demonstrate that it is as valuable as ever in meeting the complex challenges posed by a fast-paced, uncertain world.Professor Richard Prager
Professor Prager said: "When I was at school, a friend gave me a little book called The Great Crash 1929. In it, J K Galbraith describes the causes and consequences of the great American stock market crash. When summing up the lessons learned from this piece of economic history, he remarks that “very specific and personal misfortune awaits those who presume to believe that the future is revealed to them”.
"Yet predicting the future appears to be a regular necessity for engineering academics. We must understand which problems will be most important and what innovations will be key to solving them. In the past, Cambridge has been rather good at this. How can this be? People in Cambridge are not imbued with a gift for foretelling the future any more than anyone else.
"To some extent, our success in identifying and solving problems is because of the unusually high degree of individual academic autonomy that we enjoy. Academics can work on what they want, how they want and for as long as they want. This leads to a great benefit. Instead of just one engineering vision for the future, we have hundreds. The chance that one of us may be right is greatly multiplied.
"Academic freedom is a key strength of the Cambridge culture, but it is under threat from external pressures. My priority as Head of Department is to celebrate this strength and demonstrate that it is as valuable as ever in meeting the complex challenges posed by a fast-paced, uncertain world."
Professor Richard Prager FREng, FIET, CEng
Richard’s research focuses on the development of better non-invasive diagnostic medical imaging systems based on ultrasound.
Significant projects have included new fast and accurate calibration systems for tracked 3D ultrasound, the development of a high definition tracked 3D ultrasound system, innovative work on image based freehand 3D ultrasound without an external tracking device, real-time 3D ultrasound deconvolution for image enhancement and three-dimensional elastography. He also led a project to develop a hybrid scanner that combines the benefits of both tracked and mechanically-swept 3D ultrasound.
He is currently working on novel algorithms for high-resolution ultrasonic beam-forming.
He was Deputy Head of Department, responsible for undergraduate teaching, from 2006 to 2012.
Most recently, he has been Head of the Cambridge University School of Technology from 2014 to 2018.
He has an ongoing interest in developing web resources to help applicants prepare for university admissions interviews in engineering iWantToStudyEngineering.