The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) has today announced that Professor Sir John Ball FRS, FRSE has been elected as the next President of the Society. Following a competitive election of the RSE Fellowship, Sir John’s appointment was confirmed at the Annual Statutory Meeting in October.

John M. Ball wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera
Professor Sir John Ball, newly elected President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh

Sir John succeeds Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell DBE, FRS, FRSE, who returned as interim President following the conclusion of the term of office of Professor Dame Anne Glover DBE, FRS, FRSE.

Commenting on Sir John’s appointment, Dame Jocelyn said, “I am delighted to hand over to Professor Sir John Ball as the new President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. During my Presidency, I set out RSE’s desire to play an even greater role in the wellbeing of Scotland and all its people. Returning to RSE as interim President in May, I have been very pleased to see the progress that has been made over recent years through initiatives such as the Women in Science exhibition and, most recently the Post-Covid-19 Futures Commission. I look forward to seeing RSE’s continued development and evolution under Sir John’s Presidency”.

Professor Sir John Ball, who was elected an RSE Fellow in 1980, began his career at Heriot-Watt University, eventually becoming Professor of Applied Analysis, before moving to Oxford in 1996 as Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy and Fellow of The Queen’s College. He later returned to Heriot-Watt in 2018 as Professor of Mathematics. He has held visiting professorships at the University of California at Berkeley, at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bangalore, at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and at the University of Montpellier II. He is a former President of the International Mathematical Union and member of the Executive Board of the International Council for Science. He was knighted in the New Year Honours list for 2006 “for services to science”.

Responding to his selection, Sir John said, “The Royal Society of Edinburgh, with its long history and tradition, is one of the great institutions of Scotland, and it plays a vital role both in supporting intellectual life and providing expert and impartial advice to society at large. To be elected President is both an honour and a challenge, and I look forward to working with the Fellows and professional staff of the Society as it moves forward.”

Alongside Sir John Ball, new Office Bearers have been elected to join RSE Council, taking up office in April 2022. The new Council is as follows:

Professor Sir John Ball

General Secretary
Professor Michael Keating

Professor Stephen Reicher (Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences)
Professor Mona Siddiqui (International)
Professor Andrea Nolan (Life Sciences)
Professor Russell Morris (Physical Sciences)
Professor Jeremy Peat (Business)

Mr John Waddell

Fellowship Secretary
Professor Zoe Shipton

Ordinary Members
Professor Anne Anderson
Professor Roger Crofts
Professor Jim Gallagher
Mr Bruce Minto
Professor Stuart Monro

Council Observer (as Convener of Audit and Risk Management Committee)
Sir Alexander (Sandy) Crombie

Professor Kathryn Rudy

Programme Convener
Professor Martin Hendry

Research Awards Convener
Professor Charles Withers

Young People’s Convener
Professor Jeremy Smith

Education Convener
Dr Janet Brown