Sir Patrick Vallance said:
Robert May was Government Chief Scientific Adviser from 1995 to 2000 and was influential in developing the role in government through both his powerful intellect and the force of his personality. He held the role at a time when science underpinning government policy was in the spotlight, from BSE to GM crops. He helped make the case in government that public funding for science is an investment that delivers value for the nation. Subsequent GCSAs have built on and benefitted from his influence.
Throughout his career, he was an exemplar of the fact that being a scientist is not just about knowledge or discovery, but also speaking up about science and discussing its implications.
He will be sadly missed.