Exceptional scientists elected as Fellows of the Royal Society

The Royal Society, London Credit: Courtesy of The Royal Society
The Royal Society, London Credit: Courtesy of The Royal Society

Seven outstanding Cambridge researchers have been elected as Fellows of the Royal Society, the UK-s national academy of sciences and the oldest science academy in continuous existence.

These individuals have pushed forward the boundaries of their respective fields and had a beneficial influence on the world beyond.

Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society
The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering and medicine.

The Society’s fundamental purpose, as it has been since its foundation in 1660, is to recognise, promote and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.

This year, a total of 80 researchers, innovators and communicators from around the world have been elected as Fellows of the Royal Society for their substantial contribution to the advancement of science. These include 59 Fellows, 19 Foreign Members and two Honorary Fellows.

Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society said: -I am delighted to welcome our newest cohort of Fellows. These individuals have pushed forward the boundaries of their respective fields and had a beneficial influence on the world beyond. This year’s intake have already achieved incredible things, and I have no doubt that they will continue to do so. I look forward to meeting them and following their contributions in future.-

The Fellows and Foreign Members join the ranks of Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Lise Meitner, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and Dorothy Hodgkin.

The Cambridge Fellows are:

Professor Cathie Clarke FRS

Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics, Institute of Astronomy Clarke studies astrophysical fluid dynamics, including accretion and protoplanetary discs and stellar winds. She was the first to demonstrate how protoplanetary disc formation around low-mass young stars is determined by their radiation field. In 2017 she became the first woman to be awarded the Eddington Medal by the Royal Astronomical Society and in 2022 she became director of the Institute of Astronomy.

She said: -It’s a great honour to join the many Cambridge astrophysicists who have held this title.-

Professor Christopher Jiggins FRS

Professor of Evolutionary Biology (2014), Department of Zoology, and Fellow of St Catharine’s College Jiggins studies adaption and speciation in the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). In particular he is interested in studying how species converge due to mimicry as a model for understanding the predictability of evolution and the genetic and ecological causes of speciation. He demonstrated the importance of hybridisation and movement of genes between species in generating novel adaptations. He also works on cotton bollworm, an agricultural pest, and genomic studies of the insect bioconversion species, black soldier fly.

He said: -I am amazed and delighted to receive this honour, and would thank all the amazing students, and postdocs that I have been lucky enough to work with over the years.-

Dr Philip Jones FRS

Senior Group Leader, Wellcome Sanger Institute and Professor of Cancer Development, University of Cambridge Jones studies how normal cell behaviour is altered by mutation in aging and the earliest stages of cancer development. He focuses on normal skin and oesophagus, which become a patchwork of mutant cells by middle age. He has found that different mutations can either promote or inhibit cancer development giving hope of new ways to prevent cancer in the future. He is also a Consultant in Medical Oncology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

He said: -I am delighted to be elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society. This honour is a tribute to the dedication of my research team and collaborators and support of my mentors and scientific colleagues over many years.-

Dr Lori Passmore FRS

Group Leader, Structural Studies Division, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Fellow of Clare Hall Passmore a cryo-electron microscopist and structural biologist who works at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology and at the University of Cambridge. She is known for her work on multiprotein complexes involved in gene expression and the development of new supports for cryo-EM studies. She also studies the molecular mechanisms underlying Fanconi anemia, a rare genetic disease resulting in an impaired response to DNA damage.

-I am so honoured to be recognised alongside such an exceptional group of scientists. I am grateful to all the trainees, collaborators and colleagues whom I have worked with over the past years - science is truly collaborative and this is a recognition of all the courageous work of many people.-

Professor Peter Sewell FRS

Professor of Computer Science, Department of Computer Science and Technology Sewell’s research aims to put the engineering of the real-world computer systems that we all depend on onto better foundations, developing techniques to make systems that are better-understood, more robust and more secure. He and his group are best known for their work on the subtle relaxed-memory concurrency behaviour and detailed sequential semantics of processors and programming languages. He co-leads the CHERI cybersecurity project, for which his team have established mathematically-proven security properties of Arm’s Morello industrial prototype architecture.

He said: -This honour is a testament to the work of many excellent colleagues over the years, without whom none of this would have been possible.-

Professor Ivan Smith FRS

Professor of Geometry, Centre for Mathematical Sciences Smith is a mathematician who deals with symplectic manifolds and their interaction with algebraic geometry, low-dimensional topology and dynamics. In 2007, he received the Whitehead Prize for his work in symplectic topology, highlighting the breadth of applied techniques from algebraic geometry and topology, and in 2013 the Adams Prize.

He said: -I am surprised, delighted and hugely honoured to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. I’ve been very fortunate to work in a rapidly advancing field, learning it alongside many inspirational and generous collaborators, who should definitely share this recognition.-

Professor William Sutherland CBE FRS

Miriam Rothschild Chair of Conservation Biology, Department of Zoology and Professorial Fellow of St Catharine’s College Sutherland is a conservation scientist who is interested in improving the processes by which decisions are made. This has involved horizon scanning to identify future issues to reduce the surprises of future developments. His main work has been the industrial-scale collation of evidence to determine which interventions are effective and which are not and then establishing processes for embedding evidence in decision making. He has developed a free, online resource, Conservation Evidence , summarising evidence for the effectiveness of conservation actions to support anyone making decisions about how to maintain and restore biodiversity and an open access book Transforming Conservation: a practical guide to evidence and decision making.

He said: -I am delighted that our work on the means of improving decision making in conservation and elsewhere has been recognised in this way and thank my numerous collaborators.