Royal Society recognises top scientists

10 July 2012

The Royal Society, the UK’s independent academy for science, has announced the recipients of its  2012 Awards, Medals and Prize Lectures today (10 July 2012). The scientists receive the awards in recognition of their achievements in a wide variety of fields of research - the uniting factor is the excellence of their work and the profound implications their findings have had for others working in their relevant fields and wider society.


This year’s Copley Medal has been awarded to Professor Sir John Walker FRS for his ground-breaking work on bioenergetics, discovering the mechanism of ATP synthesis in the mitochondrion.

The Michael Faraday Award which is given for science communication has been awarded to well-known scientist and broadcast presenter Professor Brian Cox OBE. He is best known to the public as the presenter of a number of science programmes for the BBC, including the highly popular BBC Two series Wonders of the Solar System and BBC Radio 4’s Infinite Monkey Cage.

Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, said:
“The recipients of the Society’s awards and medals this year represent the best of the best in science yet again. Science can improve our health and quality of life, help solve the world’s biggest problems, and support sustainability. These outstanding scientists work across a range of disciplines and their research could have real impact. We’re very pleased to be able to recognise them in this way and highlight the important work they are doing.”
The full list of recipients of Awards, Medals and Prize Lectures for 2012 is below:

Premier Awards
Copley Medal
Professor Sir John Walker FRS for his ground-breaking work on bioenergetics, discovering the mechanism of ATP synthesis in the mitochondrion.
Royal Medals
Professor Tom Kibble CBE FRS for his theories of symmetry-breaking in quantum field theory, with diverse applications to elementary particle masses, vortex formation in Helium 3 and structure formation in the early universe.
Sir Kenneth Murray FRS for his crucial contributions to the development of genetic engineering, to biotechnology and to the study of hepatitis viruses.
Professor Andrew Holmes FRS for his outstanding contributions to chemical synthesis at the interface between materials and biology and pioneering the field of organic electronic materials.
Rumford Medal
Professor Roy Taylor for his outstanding contributions to tunable ultrafast lasers and nonlinear fibre optics, including fibre Raman, soliton and supercontinuum laser sources, which translated fundamental discoveries to practical technology.
Davy Medal
Professor Fraser Armstrong FRS for his pioneering protein film electrochemistry allowing exquisite thermodynamic and kinetic control of redox enzymes, exemplified by hydrogenases, key in energy technology.
Darwin Medal
Professor Timothy Clutton-Brock FRS for his outstanding work on the diversity of animal societies and demonstration of their effects on the evolution of reproductive strategies, the operation of selection and the dynamics of populations. 

Sylvester Medal
Professor John Toland FRS for his original theorems and remarkable discoveries in nonlinear partial differential equations, including applications to water waves.
Kavli Education Medal
Professor Margaret Brown for her significant impact on science or mathematics education within the UK.
Armourers and Brasiers’ Company Prize
Professor Jenny Nelson for her theoretical insight into the many factors affecting the fabrication and performance of organic photovoltaics, which has led to the rational design of these devices and related photodetectors based on organic semiconductors.
Michael Faraday Prize and Lecture

Professor Brian Cox OBE for his excellent work in science communication.
GlaxoSmithKline Prize
Professor Adrian Bird CBE FMedSci FRS for his outstanding contributions in the field of epigenetics, especially DNA methylation and its role in development and disease.
Rosalind Franklin Award
Professor Polly Arnold for her scientific achievements and her proposal to promote women in STEM.
Kohn Award
Dr Suzannah Lishman for her excellence in engaging with society in matters of science and its societal dimension.
Milner Award

Professor Gordon Plotkin FRS for his fundamental research into programming semantics with lasting impact on both the principles and design of programming languages.

Bakerian Lecture
Professor David Leigh FRS for his pioneering studies on the design and synthesis of artificial molecular motors and machines and his outstanding body of work on the template synthesis of molecular and supramolecular systems.
Kavli Medal and Lecture

Professor Neil Greenham for his exceptional work on hybrid materials combining polymer semiconductors with inorganic nanoparticles, and their use in printable solar cells.
Croonian Lecture
Professor Frances Ashcroft FRS for her outstanding work on the link between glucose metabolism and insulin secretion in pancreatic beta-cells, and the key role and mechanism of action of the ATP-sensitive potassium channel, and its role in neonatal diabetes.
Ferrier Lecture
Professor John O’Keefe FRS for his pioneering work in cognitive neuroscience, especially on the role of the hippocampus, and the mechanisms supporting memory and cognition.
Francis Crick Lecture
Dr Matthew Hurles for his outstanding contributions to understanding structural variation in the human genome, the mechanisms that cause this variation and its medical and evolutionary consequences.
Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Lecture
Dr Roger Highfield for excellence in a subject relating to the social function of science, the philosophy of science or the history of science.

For further information on the Royal Society’s Awards, Medals and Prize Lectures please visit:


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