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Fellows Directory

Russell Foster

Russell Foster

Professor Russell Foster CBE FRS


Elected: 2008


Russell Foster is Professor of Circadian Neuroscience, Director of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute (SCNi) and Head of the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology at the University of Oxford. He is also a Fellow at Brasenose College.

Russell’s research spans the neurosciences but his research is focused upon two questions: (i) How is environmental light detected and processed by vertebrate photoreceptors for the regulation of circadian rhythms? One of his key findings was the discovery of another class of photoreceptor within the vertebrate eye based upon a small number of photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (pRGCs).  These pRGCs not only regulate circadian rhythms, but also sleep & arousal states, heart-rate and pupil constriction; (ii) How are circadian rhythms generated and what happens when these systems break-down in disease and under abnormal environmental conditions?

Russell Chairs the Royal Society Public Engagement Committee, The Cheltenham Science Festival and is a Trustee of the Science Museum Group. He contributes to radio, television and writes newspaper articles. He has co-written three popular science books, and is working on his fourth.

Professional positions

Director, Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute, University of Oxford

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Other
    • Public understanding of science, Science education at secondary level, Science policy, Scientific information provision, History of science
  • Anatomy, physiology and neurosciences
    • Behavioural neuroscience


Behavioral neuroscience, Cellular neuroscience, Photoreception, Circadian Rhythms, Sleep

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