Four they are jolly good fellows

Friday 24 March 2023
Clockwise from top left: Phillips O’Brien, Sascha Hooker, Frank Gunn-Moore and Lorna Milne

Four University of St Andrews professors were elected as Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh this week (Wednesday 22 March), becoming part of a cohort of the greatest thinkers, researchers and practitioners in their fields.

Professor Phillips O’Brien, Head of the School of International Relations, Professor Frank Gunn-Moore and Professor Sascha Hooker of the School of Biology, and Lorna Milne, Professor of French and former St Andrews Master and Deputy Principal, join 87 Fellows from sciences, education, the arts, business, and public life.

The RSE, Scotland’s National Academy, has a Fellowship of 1800 people from science, the arts, business, sports, civil society and academia working in or with organisations in Scotland. The St Andrews professors join, among others, Olympian and St Andrews Honorary Graduate Dame Katherine Grainger; world record holder Mark Beaumont BEM; cardiovascular specialist Professor Lis Neubeck; and author Andrew O’Hagan.

Professor Phillips O’Brien is Head of the School of International Relations and Chair of Strategic Studies at St Andrews. Professor O’Brien was awarded the fellowship in recognition of a career working at the intersection of grand-strategy, politics and the fighting of wars. He has over the past year risen to prominence as an analyst of the Russo-Ukraine War, where many of his ideas on power and war have been shown to be accurate.

Frank Gunn-Moore, Professor of Molecular Neurobiology in the School of Biology, is an academic and researcher in the field of neurodegeneration and dementia research. His group has made discoveries in understanding the cellular and biochemical mechanisms involved in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and identified potential therapeutic targets with resultant industrial collaboration for novel inhibitors.

Using both molecular and novel biophysical techniques, Professor Gunn-Moore has also discovered novel signalling pathways that are involved in the growth and development of mammalian neurons, including the first identification of the gene FRMD6/Willin as an upstream component of the Hippo pathway which, prior to his work, was thought to be involved only in cancer.

Professor Sascha Hooker is a marine scientist in the School of Biology at the University with wide interests in wildlife ecology, conservation, and environmental sustainability. Using technological tools such as animal-attached tags or analyses of tissue isotope signatures, she studies how and where animals feed, the physiology underpinning this, and implications for marine conservation decision-making. Professor Hooker has been awarded a Canadian Commonwealth Fellowship, a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship, and the ZSL Marsh Award for Marine and Freshwater Conservation. She has worked half-time since 2004, becoming a passionate advocate for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion within academia, and directing her department to Athena Swan Gold Award status.

Lorna Milne, Professor of French in the School of Modern Languages, is a former Dean, Proctor, Master and Deputy Principal of the University. Having previously been honoured by the French Government with the rank of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques for her work in French Studies, she has been elected to the RSE for her distinguished contribution to the Higher Education sector in Scotland.

In a joint statement, the new St Andrews Fellows said: “We are all absolutely delighted and honoured to have been elected to the RSE and view this also as a testament to all the hard work that our colleagues, students and collaborators have done over the years, allowing us to explore the fascination of Science, International Relations, Modern Languages and Higher Education as a whole. We should never forget we have a privileged role in society as we create new knowledge.

“We all look forward to contributing to the work of the Society in any way we can, with particular interests for us, variously, in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Higher Education, intercultural understanding, security and sustainability, and promoting the superb research that comes from all the Scottish Universities.”

RSE President, Professor Sir John Ball, said: “It is a great privilege to welcome our new Fellows – they represent outstanding commitment and achievement at the highest level across a diverse range of sectors. From scientific advancement that changes lives to leading business innovation recognised across the world, the RSE welcomes the best minds to harness their unique insight and make knowledge useful for the greater good.

“Harnessing our Fellows’ talents and ideas allows us to mobilise a wide range of expertise to tackle some of the most complex challenges society faces. In welcoming our new Fellows, I look forward to seeing the positive effect they will have on society in Scotland and beyond.”

Local GP Dr Margaret M McCartney was also elected to the Fellowship. Dr McCartney is a freelance writer and broadcaster and an Honorary Senior Lecturer in the School of Medicine at the University of St Andrews.

More information on the current membership can be found on the RSE website.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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