Top scientists receive Royal Society Research Professorships to fund long-term UK research

20 March 2013

Royal Society Research Professorships have been awarded to three world-class scientists whose research interests cover topics ranging from climate to cognition.

The award provides long-term support enabling leading scientists to focus on their research; appointments are usually made for approximately 10 years.

The latest recipients of the award are:

Professor Matthew Rosseinsky FRS, University of Liverpool

Professor Eric Wolff FRS, University of Cambridge

Professor Daniel Wolpert FRS, University of Cambridge

Professor Matthew Rosseinsky’s research concentrates on the chemical synthesis of new materials. He leads a research group at the University of Liverpool that works to both enhance the fundamental knowledge of physical and chemical properties of new materials, and to improve the performance of materials for applications including energy storage and generation, communications and catalysis. One of the group’s current projects is the development of porous materials with nanometre-sized openings, which have applications in the storage of energy gases such as methane and hydrogen, molecular separation and purification, and the delivery of drugs and medical gases.

“The materials I work on are crystalline solids whose regular structures involve the ordered assembly of millions of atoms,” explained Professor Rosseinsky.

“This produces quite different chemical challenges to those involved in making small molecules. We need new scientific methods to allow us to assemble the materials we need systematically, rather than relying on the small number of what are ‘lucky punches’ that form the basis of so much of modern technology.

“The Royal Society Research Professorship will allow me to work on this problem of the chemical control of the structure and properties of extended solids, together with many colleagues whose skills and insight will be needed to meet it.”

Professor Eric Wolff uses ice cores to investigate climate records and is one of the top scientists in his field. He has made major contributions towards our understanding of the global history of the Earth’s climate. He first joined the British Antarctic Survey in 1978 and again in 1985, where he led the EPICA project, providing us with many of the most iconic and detailed records of how the Earth’s climate and environment have changed over the last 800,000 years. On receipt of this award he will move to the University of Cambridge.

“The professorship will allow me to develop some of the ice core records and to combine records from ice cores and other environmental archives in order to understand the mechanics behind the workings of the Earth over this period,” commented Professor Wolff.

“Additionally it will allow me to work with international partners on the challenging task of finding a site in Antarctica where we can retrieve even older ice – taking us beyond a million years.”

Professor Daniel Wolpert is a world leader in the study of how the brain controls movement and is head of the Sensorimotor Learning Group at the Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge. His group uses virtual reality systems and robotics to test their theories.

“Movement is fundamental to human existence, being the only way we have to affect the world around us,” explained Professor Wolpert.

“Despite the recent dramatic advances in the field, understanding the control of movement remains an extremely challenging problem. This is evident when we try to build machines to do what our brains do so effortlessly. We can now build machines that outperform grandmasters at chess, yet there is no robot that can manipulate a chess piece with the dexterity of a five year old child. I am delighted to be appointed to the Royal Society Noreen Murray Research Professorship in Neurobiology which will allow me to focus my efforts on understanding the computational principles by which the brain controls movement.”

These prestigious posts provide long-term support for internationally recognised scientists of outstanding achievement and promise. Previous holders of Royal Society Research Professorships include six Nobel Laureates and five Presidents of the Royal Society.

For more information about the current holders of Royal Society Research Professorships, please follow this link.