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About the Royal Society

Recipients of Royal Society medals and awards in 2018 announced

19 July 2018

The Royal Society announces the winners of 24 medals and awards. The annual prizes recognise exceptional researchers who make outstanding contributions to science. 

Brian Foster, Vice President of the Royal Society, said:
“The Royal Society has a long-standing tradition of identifying and celebrating the best and brightest scientists. The winners of this year’s medals and awards have all made outstanding contributions to their field. I congratulate them for their distinguished work and their contribution to the advancement of science as a whole.”

Stephen Sparks FRS receives the Royal Medal for his contributions to our understanding of volcanoes, including evaluating their risks and mitigating their hazards. The Royal Medals are one of the Royal Society’s premier awards and are made on behalf of the Queen each year. Awarded annually since 1825, this year’s recipients of the Royal Medals join the ranks of Fred Sanger, Max Perutz and Francis Crick.

Stephen Sparks FRS said:
“It is a huge honour for a geologist to receive the Royal Medal which covers all of the physical sciences. The Medal recognises the importance of field work, often in wild and remote places, and the inductive method in the natural sciences. Modern geology requires interdisciplinary research and I have been privileged to have worked with outstanding colleagues in the mathematical and physical sciences.”

Also receiving the Royal Medal is Lewis Wolpert CBE FRS for his research on morphogenesis and pattern formation that led to the concept of positional information in embryonic development. His work has enabled us to understand how cells do the right thing in the right place as an embryo grows.

Lewis Wolpert CBE FRS said:
“Getting the Royal Society medal is thrilling and almost unbelievable, a true honour. I am very grateful. It justifies years of very hard work. My research might help in preventing abnormal embryo development, particularly in humans.”

Shankar Balasubramanian FMedSci FRS and David Klenerman FMedSci FRS are jointly awarded the third and final Royal Medal for their co-development of DNA sequencing techniques transforming biology and genomic medicine.

Shankar Balasubramanian FMedSci FRS said:
“I feel hugely honoured to be awarded the Royal Medal and it is humbling to see the previous recipients.  I am deeply thankful to the many co-workers and collaborators who have made my scientific explorations so enjoyable and fruitful and continue to do so.”

David Klenerman FMedSci FRS added:
“The development of Solexa sequencing was a massive team effort and would not have been possible without the collective contribution of a wide number of highly talented individuals. I am delighted that this achievement has been recognised by this award.”

The Croonian Medal and Lecture is awarded to Kay Davies DBE FMedSci FRS for her achievements in developing a prenatal test for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and her work on characterizing dystrophin related proteins. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a progressive muscle wasting disease which affects mostly boys, who often need wheelchairs at about 12 years of age and die in their twenties, usually from respiratory or cardiac problems.  There is currently no effective treatment. Kay’s work has resulted in treatments poised to transform the lives of an estimate 250,000 patients worldwide. 

Edward Hinds FRS is awarded the Bakerian Medal and Lecture for his achievements in controlling individual atoms, molecules and photons. Edward’s research has focused on how to use quantum systems to make the most sensitive measuring devices possible, and how to use these devices to investigate the nature of quantum systems more deeply.

The Sylvester Medal is awarded to Dusa McDuff FRS for her pioneering role in the development of the new field of symplectic geometry and topology. Her outstanding work includes many fundamental theorems and she has been inspirational for generations of mathematicians. 

Emma Chapman, member of the campaign organisation The 1752 Group has been awarded the Royal Society Athena Prize 2018 in the individual category for driving nationally impactful policy changes concerning sexual harassment issues in higher education. The Communications team at the Academy of Medical Sciences also receive the prize in the team category for their programme increasing the visibility and participation of female scientists in the media.

The Rosalind Franklin Award is awarded annually to those who raise the profile of women in STEM in their host institution and/or field of expertise in the UK. This year it goes to Tamsin Mather, Professor of Earth Science at the University of Oxford, for her work in the field of volcanology. Tamsin’s research explores the diverse ways in which volcanoes interact with Earth's environment, the processes driving volcanic unrest and eruptions processes, as well as the hazards they pose.

Full list

See the full list of medals and awards, including their description and past winners.  

Premier Awards

Copley Medal (announced in May 2018)

Professor Jeffrey Gordon

For his contributions to understanding the role of gut microbial communities to human health and disease.

Royal Medals

Sir Stephen Sparks CBE FRS
For his contributions to our understanding of volcanoes, including evaluating their risks and mitigating their hazards.

Professor Lewis Wolpert CBE FRS
For his research on morphogenesis and pattern formation that led to the concept of positional information in embryonic development.

Sir Shankar Balasubramanian FMedSci FRS and Professor David Klenerman FMedSci FRS
For their co-development of DNA sequencing techniques transforming biology and genomic medicine.

Croonian Medal and Lecture

Dame Kay Davies DBE FMedSci FRS
For her achievements in developing a prenatal test for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and for her work characterising the binding partners of the protein dystrophin.

Bakerian Medal and Lecture

Professor Edward Hinds FRS
For his achievements in controlling individual atoms, molecules and photons. With these, he has advanced our understanding of fundamental phenomena such as Casimir forces, dark energy, and supersymmetry.

Medals

Davy Medal

Professor John Pyle FRS
For pioneering leadership in understanding the depletion of the global ozone layer by halocarbons, particularly coupling between chemistry, radiation, and dynamics, and the special vulnerability of Arctic ozone.

Hughes Medal

Professor James Durrant FRS
For his distinguished photochemical studies for the design solar energy devices, particular by transient spectroscopic studies of dye sensitized solar cells and of photoelectrochemical water splitting.

Rumford Medal

Professor Ian Walmsley FRS
For pioneering work in the quantum control of light and matter on ultrashort timescales, especially the invention and application of new techniques for characterization of quantum and classical light fields.

Sylvester Medal

Professor Dusa McDuff FRS
For her pioneering role in the development of the new field of symplectic geometry and topology. Her outstanding work includes many fundamental theorems and she has been inspirational for generations of mathematicians.

Buchanan Medal

Sir Adrian Peter Bird CBE FRS
For his discovery that the MeCP2 protein silences transcription of methylated DNA and can reverse established Rett Syndrome in MeCP2 deficiency, demonstrating that such neurodevelopmental diseases are curable. 

Darwin Medal

Professor William Hill OBE FRS
For his contribution to our understanding of the genetics of quantitative traits and response to selection.

Gabor Medal

Professor Cait MacPhee CBE
For her contributions to understanding protein aggregation that inform approaches to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes and to the creation of self-assembled functional biopolymers.

Kavli Education Medal

Professor Alice Rogers OBE
For her outstanding contributions to mathematics education.

Prize lectures 

The following medals are also awarded an associated prize lecture, which will be delivered at the Royal Society in London:

Francis Crick Medal and Lecture

Dr Gregory Jefferis
For his discoveries concerning the developmental and functional logic of sensory information processing.

Kavli Medal and Lecture

Professor Edward Hawkins
For his contributions to the understanding and quantifying natural climate variability and long-term climate change, and for actively communicating climate science.

Michael Faraday Medal and Lecture

Professor Danielle George MBE
For her excellence in communicating science.

Rosalind Franklin Award and Lecture

Professor Tamsin Mather
On the basis of her achievements in the field of volcanology, her ability to communicate with the public and her imaginative project proposal.

Milner Medal and Lecture

Professor Eugene Myers
For his development of computational techniques that have brought genome sequencing into everyday use, underpinned key biological sequencing tools, and made large scale analysis of biological images practical.

Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Medal and Lecture

Professor Mark Jackson
For his significant contributions in popularising medical history and the medical humanities.

Awards

Royal Society Africa Award

Dr Dorothy Yeboah-Manu
For her contributions and innovative approaches to understanding Mycobacterium ulcerans and Mycobacterium africanum, combining microbiology, genetic studies and epidemiology.

Royal Society Armourers and Braisers’ Company Prize

Professor Steven Armes FRS
For his pioneering development of colloidal nanocomposite particles. He has demonstrated many applications; his fruitful collaborations with companies has inspired three successful commercial products.

Royal Society Mullard Award

Professor Florin Udrea FREng and Professor Julian Gardner FREng
For their work as renowned academics and serial entrepreneurs who together founded and led a most successful spin-off in the physical sciences, active in environmental and air quality sensors.

Royal Society Athena Prize 2018 Individual Category

Emma Chapman, Imperial College London
For driving nationally impactful policy changes concerning sexual harassment issues in higher education.

Royal Society Athena Prize 2018 Team Category

Communications Team, the Academy of Medical Sciences
For an evidence-based, sustainable and impactful programme that has increased the visibility and participation of female scientists in the media.

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