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Eminent STFC supported scientists honoured by the Royal Society

9 May 2018

A number of eminent scientists from the STFC research community have today been elected as Fellows of the Royal Society for their exceptional contributions to science.

Distinguished scientist Professor Sheila Rowan MBE FRS and Director of the Institute for Gravitational Research, University of Glasgow, who were part of the UK team instrumental in the detection of gravitational waves, has today been elected as Fellow of the Royal Society for her exceptional contributions to science.

Professor Rowan, who is a member of STFC’s Council, contributed to one of the most significant breakthroughs of this century when the international LIGO collaboration made the first detection of gravitational waves, announced in February 2016 in the 100th anniversary year of the prediction by Albert Einstein. This discovery has opened up an entirely new field of physical science – that of ‘gravitational wave astronomy’ – enabling the study of black holes and other exotic phenomena far out in our Universe.

Other scientists honoured from within the STFC research community have included:

  • Jim Al-Khalili OBE FRS, Professor of Physics and Professor of Public Engagement in Science, Department of Physics, University of Surrey
  • Guy Wilkinson FRS, Professor of Physics, Department of Physics, University of Oxford
  • and Dr Fabiola Gianotti , Physicist, Director-General, CERN who has been honoured as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society.

In addition Lord Willetts FRS, Executive Chair of the Resolution Foundation, member of the Board of UK Research and Innovation and member of the House of Lords has been made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society.

Professor Rowan said: "I'm honoured to have been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society. As a new Fellow, I know that I'll be joining a group which counts some of history's most accomplished and distinguished scientists amongst its ranks, and I'm pleased and proud that the current Fellows have chosen to add me to their number.

"The work that my colleagues and I at the University of Glasgow have done, in collaboration with our partners around the world, to establish the new field of gravitational wave astronomy has been a real labour of love, and it's tremendous to see it recognised at this level.

“I'm very much looking forward to being formally admitted to the Royal Society in July, and I'm excited to continue working with my colleagues to unravel the secrets of the cosmos as the LIGO and Virgo detectors become ever-more sensitive to gravitational wave signals."

Speaking of all of this year’s fellows, Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, said: “Our Fellows are key to the Royal Society’s fundamental purpose of using science for the benefit of humanity. From Norwich to Melbourne to Ethiopia, this year’s newly elected Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society are testament that science is a global endeavour and excellent ideas transcend borders.”

The Fellowship of the Royal Society is made up of the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists from or living and working in the UK and the Commonwealth along with a number of other international institutions.

Visit the Royal Society website to find out more.

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