Eight Oxford academics have been made Fellows of the British Academy this summer, while three more have received prestigious awards from the Royal Society in recognition of their work in the fields of science and medicine.

Photograph of Professor Peter Ratcliffe
Professor Sir Peter Ratcliffe

Professor Sir Peter Ratcliffe FRS, Director of the Target Discovery Institute at the University of Oxford and Clinical Research Director at the Francis Crick Institute, has been awarded the Buchanan Medal for his ground-breaking research on oxygen sensing and signalling pathways mediating cellular responses to hypoxia.

Professor Ratcliffe said: ‘The Royal Society awards are more than just a personal honour. They highlight the world-class research being carried out here, and are a tribute to the research teams who make this work possible.

‘As our knowledge of science increases, so do does the complexity of making further discoveries, opening up whole new fields of exploration. These awards will help to raise awareness of the pioneering work being done in each of these fields.’

The Royal Society’s Milner Award has been presented to Professor Marta Kwiatkowska of the Department of Computer Science, for her contribution to the theoretical and practical development of stochastic and quantitative model checking. Professor Kwiatkowska is the first female winner of the award, which is given annually for outstanding achievement in computer science by a European researcher.

Professor Peter Bruce FRS of Oxford’s Department of Materials has been awarded the Hughes Medal for his distinguished work elucidating the fundamental chemistry underpinning energy storage. ‘I am delighted and honoured to receive the Hughes Medal,’ commented Professor Bruce. ‘It is humbling to see the list of illustrious past winners. I want to accept the award on behalf of the many students and postdocs, past and present who have worked with me.’

Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, said: ‘The Royal Society has a long-standing tradition of celebrating the best and brightest scientists. The winners of this year’s medals and awards have made outstanding contributions to their field and I congratulate them for their distinguished work and the advancement of science as a whole.’

Photogrpah of The British Academy
The British Academy, London

Fellows of the British Academy represent the very best of humanities and social sciences research, in the UK and globally.

The new Fellows are:

  • Professor John Armour, Hogan Lovells Professor of Law and Finance.
  • Professor Sir Paul Collier CBE, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government.
  • Professor Mary Daly, Professor of Sociology and Social Policy and a Fellow of Green Templeton College.
  • Professor Jaś Elsner, Professor of Late Antique Art at the University and Payne Senior Research Fellow at Corpus Christi College.
  • Professor Charles Hulme, Professor of Psychology and Education at the University and William Golding Senior Research Fellow at Brasenose College.
  • Professor Eugene Rogan, Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at the University, Director of the Middle East Centre and Fellow of St Antony’s College.
  • Professor Catriona Seth, Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature at the University and a Fellow of All Souls College.
  • Professor Sir Hew Strachan, Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College.

An honorary fellowship was awarded to playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, who was recently appointed as Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at St Catherine’s College.

Professor Sir David Cannadine also began his four-year term as President of the British Academy in July. He is a Visiting Professor of History at Oxford University, and the editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Sir David Cannadine said: 'At a time when institutions are distrusted and derided, and expertise is mocked and scorned, the British Academy stands for truth, reason, evidence-based learning, intellectual distinction, academic expertise, and quality and power of mind.

'In a world where parochialism, nativism, nationalism, xenophobia and populism seem in too many places to be on the march, it is our job to provide light and learning and hope.

'This is by no means an easy task, but I am looking forward to it, and eager to be getting on with it.'


By Tim Roberts

It would be interesting to hear more about the work for which the Royal Society medals have been awarded. Readers may speculate that it is not purely of scientific interest - even if that is the prime criterion used in awarding the medals - but could also have practical applications. Even if it has no conceivable practical application, it would help to know why it is of scientific interest, or where it might lead.