‘Pioneers’ made fellows of RSE

Friday 9 March 2007

Present-day pioneers at the University of St Andrews have followed in the footsteps of distinguished names such as Sir Walter Scott by being elected new Fellows of The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE).

The four Professors from St Andrews are part of a group of sixty experts elected to the RSE today (Friday 9th March 2007), in recognition of significant achievement in their fields and contribution to public service.

The new St Andrews Fellows are Professors Kishan Dholakia, Michael Bird, John Beath and Steve Buckland.

Professor Kishan Dholakia works in the School of Physics and Astronomy where his interests encompass fundamental science as well as aspects relating to the use of light in biology and medicine. After undergraduate studies at Cambridge and postdoctoral work at Imperial College, London he came to St Andrews. From 1997-2000 he held a Royal Society of Edinburgh personal research fellowship and became a lecturer in 2000 and a full professor in 2003. He works actively with colleagues in the School of Biology and the Bute Medical School on a variety of joint projects.

Professor Dholakia has worked on numerous areas of using light for manipulating objects and cells and his group has been at the centre of many breakthroughs in the field including the ability to rotate cells, separate or sort cells and recently work on placing DNA into cells using light. He won the European Optics Prize in 2003 and in 2005 was made an Honorary Professor at the University of Arizona, Tucson USA which has several Nobel prize winners on its faculty.

Professor Michael Bird is currently the Chair in Environmental Change in the School of Geography and Geosciences. He trained as a geologist at the University of Sydney and completed a PhD in stable isotope geochemistry at the Australian National University in 1988. Prior to his arrival at St Andrews in 2004 he held positions as a post- doctoral fellow at the University of Western Ontario, Canada (1988- 1990), research fellow and Queen Elizabeth II fellow in the Research School of Earth Sciences, ANU (1990-2000), and Associate Professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Professor Bird is currently conducting research aimed at developing records of past environmental change from cave guano and lake sediments in southeast Asia. His work there involves determining the flux of sediment, water and carbon from the large rivers of Myanmar, investigating the long-term stability of charcoal in the environment and understanding the controls on the position of rainforest-savanna boundaries and soil carbon storage in the tropics.

A native of Thurso, and a graduate of the University of St Andrews (Queen’s College), John Beath is a Professor of Economics. After academic posts at Cambridge and Bristol, he returned to St Andrews as a professor in 1991. He has been variously Head of the Economics Department, the School of Economics and Management and, most recently, Social Sciences. He has also served on a number of Faculty and University committees, including Finance and Investments and Planning and Resources. Externally, he has been on a number of key ESRC committees, was on the RAE Economics and Econometrics panel in 1996 and 2001 and chaired the national committee that drew up the QAA Benchmark Statement for Economics. He also served as Chair of the Conference of Heads of UK Departments of Economics (CHUDE) from 1997 to 2003 and has been a member of both the Council and Executive Committee of the Royal Economic Society.

Professor Beath currently holds two public appointments: as a member of the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration and as chair of the Board of Management of the Economic Research Institute of Northern Ireland. He has broad interests in economics, but his current research is on the economics of science and technology: R&D, knowledge transfer and intellectual property, and relevant inter- disciplinary links.

Professor Steve Buckland was the founding Director of the Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling (CREEM) at St Andrews, and in 2001 was awarded a grant of £1.34m from SHEFC, to provide tailor-made accommodation, support and equipment for CREEM staff. In 2005, together with Byron Morgan at Kent and Steve Brooks at Cambridge, he successfully applied for EPSRC Critical Mass funding of £1.1m to establish the National Centre for Statistical Ecology, and is now a Co-Director of the Centre. Professor Buckland served on the Royal Society of Edinburgh Inquiry into the State of Scottish Fisheries in 2003-04, was a member of the Visiting Group to the Fisheries Management Programme of the Scottish Fisheries Research Services in 2004, a member of the Visiting Group to Rothamsted Experimental Station in 2005, and a panel member in the Review of Mathematical Biology across BBSRC- Sponsored Institutes in 2006.

During 2005/06, Professor Buckland was a Leverhulme Research Fellow. He serves on the Council of the Royal Statistical Society, on the Editorial Advisory Committee of the International Biometric Society, on the Editorial Board for Ecology and Ecological Monographs, and is an Associate Editor of Biometrics.

The RSE is an independent, educational charity, consisting of a multidisciplinary set of 1400 experts of national and international standing representing excellence across the subject disciplines.

Announcing the awards today, President of The Royal Society of Edinburgh, Sir Michael Atiyah said, “I am delighted to be able to welcome such an outstanding array of new Fellows to the Society. Conferring the accolade of Fellowship on individuals recognised as amongst the best minds in Scotland and around the world, is the beginning, not the end, of the Society’s purpose. The collective expertise and experience of the Fellowship enables the RSE to uphold its Royal Charter of 1783 for the “advancement of learning and useful knowledge” and deliver meaningful, public-benefit activities today.”


Issued by Press Office, University of St Andrews

Contact Gayle Cook, Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st- andrews.ac.uk

Ref: RSE Fellows 2007 090307.doc

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