RSE honours for St Andrews academics

Tuesday 4 April 2023

The Deputy Head of the School of Chemistry has been honoured by The Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Professor Sharon Ashbrook receives the RSE Lord Kelvin Medal from Scotland’s National Academy, which recognises exceptional contribution and achievement across all academic disciplines.

Professor Ashbrook is one of nine recipients of the esteemed medals, and she is recognised for her pioneering work using solid-state NMR spectroscopy to understand the local structure, disorder and chemical reactivity in inorganic materials. She is one of the world leaders in the emerging field of NMR crystallography. In addition to her scientific excellence, Professor Ashbrook is committed to extraordinary service to the community.

Professor Ashbrook said: “I am delighted and honoured to receive this medal, and very pleased that our work on NMR spectroscopy and NMR crystallography has been recognised in this way. This award also recognises the hard work of all the PhD students, postdocs and undergraduate students I have worked with over the last few years, as well as the great collaborators I have been fortunate enough to work alongside.”

There was recognition, too, for an interdisciplinary team of academics across a number of Scottish institutions, including several from the University of St Andrews.

The Eave II Team, which has generated scientific analyses and insights that have supported evidence-informed policy and public health response throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, receives the RSE Mary Somerville Medal.

The team comprises public health experts, academics, data scientists and public members across Scotland. Among their achievements, they developed a real-time surveillance platform to monitor and forecast the evolving pandemic in Scotland.

Working with colleagues from across Scotland are St Andrews’ academics Professor Colin McCowan, Dr Amaya Azcoaga-Lorenzo, Dr Utkarsh Agrawal, Dr Adeniyi Fagbamigbe and Josie Murray of the School of Medicine, and Dr Ben Swallow from the School of Maths & Statistics.

On behalf of the St Andrews academics, Professor Colin McCowan said: “We were delighted that the Royal Society of Edinburgh has recognised the work undertaken by the EAVE II team to better understand the Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland and to help inform the response to it.

“Since 2020 we have worked with colleagues from the Universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Glasgow and Aberdeen, and Public Health Scotland in a Scotland-wide collaboration to examine the direct impact of the pandemic, its knock on effect on disruption to other health services, and the effectiveness of the vaccine rollout campaign. This work has helped inform policymakers in Scotland, the rest of the UK and the wider international community.”

This year’s medallists have been awarded under the revised RSE Medal programme, which has seen the creation of new medals to honour eminent women and their significant input to the sciences, arts, and letters in Scotland. High attainment in earth and environmental sciences, and teamwork and collaborative endeavour previously unrepresented sectors is also recognised in the newly created medals.

Professor Sir John Ball, President of the RSE, said: “The RSE’s prestigious medals, which are nominated by RSE Fellows, are awarded to recognise truly outstanding accomplishments. Representing a range of fields, this year’s medallists join a remarkable group of pioneers whose work advances our knowledge and helps to improve lives all over the world.

“Their achievements highlight the depth and breadth of the UK’s research talent. I congratulate them all.”

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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