Leading St Andrews academics recognised by the Royal Society of Edinburgh

Tuesday 9 April 2024

A mathematician, a sea mammal expert, a Professor of Greek, and a researcher in British culture – all from the University of St Andrews – are among 57 new Fellows from the worlds of business, science, creative arts, informatics, literature, law and social sciences elected to The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Scotland’s National Academy, today (Tuesday 9 April).

The RSE is a leading educational charity which operates on an independent and non-party-political basis to provide public benefit throughout Scotland.

President of the RSE, Professor Sir John Ball PRSE, said: “It is an immense honour to extend a warm welcome to each of our distinguished new Fellows.

“Individually, they embody exceptional dedication and accomplishment spanning multiple sectors and disciplines. Collectively, they demonstrate a profound commitment and determination to make meaningful contributions through their endeavours.

“From groundbreaking research that redefines our understanding to the creative pursuits that inspire and enrich our cultural landscape, the RSE proudly embraces the brightest minds, leveraging their unique expertise and perspectives for the betterment of society.

He added: “As Scotland’s National Academy, we remain committed to mobilising a diverse array of expertise to confront society’s most pressing challenges, and I am certain that our new Fellows will prove invaluable assets to the RSE.”

Professor Emeritus Ailsa Hall, Professor of Mathematics and Statistics Jonathan Fraser, Professor of Greek and co-director of the Centre for Ancient Environmental Studies Jason König, and Professor of English and Associate of the Centre for Pacific Studies, Emma Sutton join an existing group of more than 1800 individuals who give their time and expertise for free to support the RSE in delivering its mission of ‘knowledge made useful’.

Fellows help the RSE to continue to provide independent and expert advice to policymakers, support aspiring entrepreneurs, develop research capacity and leadership, inspire, and facilitate learning, and engage with the general public through inspiring events.

Professor Emeritus Ailsa Hall, formerly Director of the Scottish Sea Mammal Research Unit, focuses her research on marine mammal physiology, health and survival. She has collaborated with colleagues, studying the effects of pollutants, pathogens and toxins in a variety of different species, all over the world.  Her expertise and interests have seen her participating in fieldwork from Antarctica to the Galapagos islands. Speaking about her Fellowship, she said: “I am thrilled and honoured to have been elected to the RSE.  I would like to thank all my colleagues and students for their support, passion and dedication to marine mammal science and I look forward to working with the Society in future.”

Professor of English and Associate of the Centre for Pacific Studies, Emma Sutton focuses her research on musical-literary relations in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, exploring the ways that music shapes writers’ formal experiments and their politics. Her recent research examines music’s role in the colonial history of Oceania; she has collaborated with Indigenous Pacific scholars, musicians and creative writers for a decade developing public resources and creative works on this subject. Commenting on her appointment, she said: “I am honoured and delighted to be elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. It is a privilege to be given this opportunity to contribute to the RSE’s valuable work, and I hope particularly to support that which fosters inclusivity and intercultural relations.”

Professor of Mathematics and Statistics Jonathan Fraser is a pure mathematician centring his research on fractal geometry, that is, the study of abstract geometrical and analytical properties of objects which exhibit complexity across a large range of length scales. Jonathan, who has written more than 75 research papers as well as a research monograph (CUP, 2020), said he was delighted to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He said: “I have long admired the work of the RSE and the position it holds in the academic landscape in Scotland and beyond.  I am honoured to be joining an impressive list of Fellows and am very pleased to be chalking another one up for St Andrews!”

Professor of Greek and co-director of the Centre for Ancient Environmental Studies Jason König works broadly on the Greek literature and culture of the Roman empire (from the late Hellenistic period to late antiquity, approx. 200 BCE – 500 CE), and on the history and representation of human-environment relations in classical antiquity. His books include The Folds of Olympus: Mountains in Ancient Greek and Roman Culture. Commenting on becoming one of the newest RSE Fellows, he said: “It is exciting to be part of an organisation that brings so many different areas of expertise into dialogue with each other. One of the things that is special about the RSE is the way it takes seriously the challenge of making that dialogue useful for the challenges of the present and the future. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to take my own research in new directions through the possibilities for exchange that RSE membership brings with it.”

The new Fellows will be inducted in May 2024. More information on the current membership and the work of the RSE can be found online.




Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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