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Four AcademiaNet scientists join the Royal Society

29.5.2017 | The prestigious scientific academy has elected 60 new fellows, of which 13 are women. Among them are AcademiaNet scientists Gabriele Hegerl, Yvonne Jones, Anne Ridley and Nicola Spaldin.
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(© Prof Hegerl / Prof Jones / Prof Ridley / Prof Spaldin)

Collage of images from Prof Hegerl (outer left), Prof Jones (inner left), Prof Ridley (inner right) and Prof Spaldin (outer right).

The British Royal Society has admitted 60 new fellows earlier this month. The organisation is one of the oldest scientific academies in existence, and consists of roughly 1600 members – among them hundreds of Nobel laureates and similarly distinguished scientists from, or working in, the UK. Each year, the society selects 50 to 60 new members from a pool of approximately 700 nominees, which are proposed by existing Fellows.

This year's intake includes 13 female scientists – women therefore make up roughly a quarter of new admissions. Among them are four AcademiaNet members.

One of the honours goes to Professor Gabriele Hegerl, a climate scientist at the University of Edinburgh. Her work focuses on investigating the causes and drivers of changes in the world's climate. Her data as well as her application of mathematical modelling have contributed to teasing out which impact human activity has on the global warming that marks the Anthropocene, as well as local heat waves and changes in precipitation.

Professor Yvonne Jones of Oxford University also joins the organisation. A biophysicist by training, she had resolved the three-dimensional structure of tumour necrosis factor – a protein crucial in inflammation – using protein crystallography in the late 1980s. Since then, she has focused her work on investigating how cells signal to each other in the human body, and how this affects human health.

Another recently elected fellow is cell biologist Professor Anne Ridley. She and her team at the King's College London investigate cellular mechanisms involved in disease, particularly in cancer. Her research centres on examining the molecules that make cells stick together, to tease out how cancer cells weaken their connections to their neighbours in order to start migrating. These insights help us better understand metastasis – the formation of secondary tumours away from the original neoplasm – which is the main cause of cancer deaths.

UK-born scientist Professor Nicola Spaldin, too, joins the Royal Society. A physicist based at the ETH Zürich, her theories on multiferroic materials sparked an explosion of interest in the field in 2000, and she has since become a world leader in the field of Material Science. Her research mainly focuses on studying the basic physical properties of magnetoelectric multiferroics – materials which are magnetic and ferroelectric in the same phase. These substances are not only interesting for research, but also for industry as they may combine multiple, technologically desirable properties that usually do not co-exist. Professor Spaldin is an outstanding academic, as well as a passionate science educator – she has also authored a popular text book on Magnetic Materials.

Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, welcomes the new fellows with the following words: “Science is a great triumph of human achievement and has contributed hugely to the prosperity and health of our world. In the coming decades it will play an increasingly crucial role in tackling the great challenges of our time including food, energy, health and the environment. The new Fellows of the Royal Society have already contributed much to science and it gives me great pleasure to welcome them into our ranks.”

Admission of new members to the Society will take place at a formal ceremony on Friday July 14 in London.

More information about this year's elected fellows can be found on the Royal Society website.

  (© Royal Society / AcademiaNet)

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