Professor Dame Ann Patricia Dowling (born 15 July 1952) is a British mechanical engineer who researches combustion, acoustics and vibration, focusing on efficient, low-emission combustion and reduced road vehicle and aircraft noise. From 2009 to 2014 she was Head of the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, where she was the first female professor in 1993. She is also the President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Academy's first female president.
Dowling was educated at Ursuline Convent School, Westgate, Kent and the University of Cambridge (as a member of Girton College), where after studying mathematics at undergraduate level, and following a summer job at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, she was awarded a PhD in 1978. Dowling's PhD was in aeroacoustics, specifically on the Concorde noise problem.
Dowling's research career has been at University of Cambridge starting as a research fellow in 1977 but she has held visiting posts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Jerome C Hunsaker Visiting Professor, 1999) and at the California Institute of Technology (Moore Distinguished Scholar 2001). Dowling is one of four main panel chairs for the Research Excellence Framework.
On 3 February 2012, the oil company BP announced that Dowling was to become a non-executive director with immediate effect. She has been a non-executive board member at BIS since February 2014.
Dowling was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 1996 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2003. Her FRS nomination reads:
In February 2013 Dowling was listed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4. and was the subject of an episode of The Life Scientific in 2012.
Dowling is a Patron of the Women's Engineering Society (WES).
In January 2014 Dowling was nominated for election as President of the Royal Academy of Engineering. She took up the position in September 2014, and in that role chaired a 2015 review (the 'Dowling Review') of business–university research collaboration, published in July 2015.
She was awarded the CBE in 2002 and the DBE in 2007. In 2016 she was appointed to the Order of Merit.