RSE Lord Kelvin Medal

The RSE Lord Kelvin Medal recognises exceptional achievements in physical, engineering and informatic sciences by a senior career researcher. This award meets with the Society’s strategic objective of increasing public understanding of science and the arts and humanities. The awardees are required to have a Scottish connection but can be based anywhere in the world.

Senior-career definition: academics who are normally beyond 15 years from the award of their doctorate. This terminology takes no account of either an applicant’s age or current status in determining eligibility for this award. This does not include career breaks.


  • Nominations can only be made by Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
  • Nominations can be made via the new online system through the member area.
  • Along with the nomination form you are required to upload a CV and publication list for the candidate as well as two references.
  • Full guidance notes can be found in the member area.
  • RSE Medals Referee Form

ABOUT Lord Kelvin

William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin (1824 – 1907) was a mathematical physicist and engineer. At the University of Glasgow he worked on the mathematical analysis of electricity and the formulation of the first and second Laws of Thermodynamics. He did much to unify the emerging discipline of physics in its modern form. He also had a career as an electric telegraph engineer and inventor, which propelled him into the public eye. He was knighted by Queen Victoria for his work on the transatlantic telegraph project. Lord Kelvin is widely known for realising that there was a lower limit to temperature, absolute zero; absolute temperatures are stated in units of kelvin in his honour. When he was honoured for his achievements in thermodynamics he adopted the title Baron Kelvin of Largs and is therefore often described as Lord Kelvin. He was the first UK scientist to be elevated to the House of Lords and, despite offers of elevated posts from several world renowned universities, Lord Kelvin refused to leave Glasgow, remaining Professor of Natural Philosophy for over 50 years.


YearName(s)Institution Awarded
2021Professor Jane HillstonUniversity of EdinburghFor their work, including developing the first compositional framework for the quantitative analysis of systems. This pioneering work has had widespread applications in engineered and natural systems.
2020Professor Alan William HoodUniversity of St Andrewsfor their internationally commended work in theoretical and computational solar physics has helped to enhance understanding of the solar atmosphere.
2019Professor David ManloveUniversity of Glasgowfor their outstanding contribution to computing science, whose pioneering work in matching algorithms and software has enabled a significant increase in living kidney transplants, thereby improving public health.
2018Professor John Irvine FRSEUniversity of St Andrewsfor their outstanding contribution to the field of energy materials research.
2017Professor Polly Arnold OBE, FRSEUniversity of Edinburgh for their outstanding contribution to the field of synthetic chemistry through her world leading research on the lanthanide and actinide elements which has changed the way scientists think about these elements and particularly the behaviour of uranium’s oxide dication which is a major component of nuclear waste.
2016Professor Anthony Doyle FRSEUniversity of Glasgowfor their outstanding contribution to the field of experimental particle physics, through developing critical analysis methods, which has led to major developments that have made possible the recent discovery of the Higgs Boson, and for his extensive public engagement activities.
2015Professor Jason Reese FREng, FRSE, FIMechE, FInstPUniversity of Edinburghfor their outstanding contribution to the field of Engineering both within the UK and internationally and for his commitment to the public engagement of science.
A train crossing Forth Bridge over a body of water