Royal Society announces election of new Fellows 2020

Nine Cambridge scientists are among the new Fellows announced today by the Royal Society.

At this time of global crisis, the importance of scientific thinking, and the medicines, technologies and insights it delivers, has never been clearer.

Venki Ramakrishnan

Fellows are chosen for their outstanding contributions to scientific understanding. The 62 newly elected Fellows embody the global nature of science, and are elected for life through a peer review process based on excellence in science. Past Fellows and Foreign Members include Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Dorothy Hodgkin and Stephen Hawking.

The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship made up of the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists from the UK and the Commonwealth. Its Foreign Members are drawn from the rest of the world. The Society’s fundamental purpose is to recognise, promote and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.

Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, said: “At this time of global crisis, the importance of scientific thinking, and the medicines, technologies and insights it delivers, has never been clearer. Our Fellows and Foreign Members are central to the mission of the Royal Society, to use science for the benefit of humanity.

“While election to the Fellowship is a recognition of exceptional individual contributions to the sciences, it is also a network of expertise that can be drawn on to address issues of societal, and global significance. This year’s Fellows and Foreign Members have helped shape the 21st century through their work at the cutting-edge of fields from human genomics, to climate science and machine learning.

“It gives me great pleasure to celebrate these achievements, and those yet to come, and welcome them into the ranks of the Royal Society.”

The Cambridge scientists announced today as Royal Society Fellows are:

Professor Kevin Brindle FMedSci, Department of Biochemistry and Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. His current research is focused on novel imaging methods for detecting cancer progression and to monitor early tumour responses to treatment, with an emphasis on translating these techniques to the clinic.

Professor Vikram Deshpande, Department of Engineering, for his seminal contributions in microstructural mechanics. His works include developing ‘metallic wood’, sheets of nickel as strong as titanium, but four-times lighter thanks to their plant-like nanoscale pores.

Professor Marian Holness, Department of Earth Sciences. She has created a new approach to decoding rock history, and concentrates on understanding the evolution of bodies of magma trapped in the crust, which ultimately controls the eruptive behaviour of any overlying volcano.

Professor Giles Oldroyd, Russell R Geiger Professor of Crop Science, Crop Science Centre and Group Leader, Sainsbury Laboratory. He is leading an international research programme attempting to achieve more equitable and sustainable agriculture through the enhanced use of beneficial microbial associations.

Professor Hugh Osborn, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics for work in theoretical physics on quantum field theory and in particular conformal field theory.

Professor Didier Queloz, Cavendish Laboratory, for his part in the discovery of the first planet beyond our solar system, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics last year. Hundreds more exoplanets have since been revealed by his pioneering observational techniques.

Dr Sarah Teichmann FMedSci, Director of Research, Cavendish Laboratory and Senior Research Fellow, Churchill College, for her contributions to computational biology and genomics, including her role in founding and leading the Human Cell Atlas international consortium to map all cell types in the human body.

Professor Stephen Young, Department of Engineering, for pioneering the statistical approach to language processing – namely, treating conversation as a reinforcement learning problem – that made the speech-recognition products in millions of homes a reality.

Professor Jack Thorne, Department of Pure Maths and Mathematical Statistics for multiple breakthroughs in diverse areas of algebraic number theory. At age 32, he becomes the youngest living member of the Fellowship.

In addition, Dr William Schafer at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, based at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, has been elected as a Fellow.

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