The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) names new Fellows 2020

Jump to RSE Fellows 2020

  • 64 Fellows have been elected to join The Royal Society of Edinburgh from across the sciences, education, the arts, business, and public life.
  • Among those joining are author and activist Alan Cumming; world expert on global health and tropical diseases, Professor Francisca Mutapi; director at Equate Scotland, Talat Yaqoob; and Scottish historian Niall Ferguson.
64 Fellows elected to the RSE in 2020
RSE new Fellows 2020 | Photo credit: Steve Vaccariello; Tom Barnes; Gareth Poxon; Lorne Gill.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland’s National Academy has announced its newly elected 2020 Fellows. These new Fellows comprise leading thinkers and experts from Scotland and around the world whose work has a significant impact on our nation.

The new intake of 64 fellows joins the current roll of around 1,600, representing the full range of physical and life sciences, arts, humanities, social sciences, education, professions, industry, business and public life. Those who are nominated, and then invited to join, have undergone rigorous assessment of their achievements, professional standing and societal contribution. Fellows, who give of their time freely, play a fundamental role in enabling the RSE to deliver its mission ‘Knowledge Made Useful’, contributing to the cultural, economic and social well-being of Scotland and the wider world.

The list includes many leading academics, such as Professor Francisca Mutapi, a world-expert on global health and tropical diseases, and Professor Rosalind Allen, whose work contributions to our understanding of antibiotic resistance, but also includes a wide array of leaders from the arts, third sector, business and public life. These include Talat Yaqoob, a director at Equate Scotland, the national expert in gender equality throughout the STEM sectors, and an Equalities Consultant, who since 2016 has been leading work to change cultures in organisations and academia to encourage more women into male dominated fields.

Talat comments:

A woman wearing glasses and smiling at the camera
Talat Yaqoob FRSE

It is an honour to be elected as a fellow and have the opportunity to be part of such an esteemed network. I admire the work of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and look forward to playing my role in its aims to engage a diverse range of people, to create a fairer society and to make Scotland a global leader in tackling social and economic challenges.

Alongside the 54 fellows and eight corresponding fellows, honorary fellowships have also been awarded to actor, producer, singer, author and activist Alan Cumming and historian Niall Ferguson.

In the words of Val McDermid, one of Alan’s supporters for Fellowship: “His range is remarkable – as a highly respected actor, director, producer, singer, voice artist, interviewer and writer, his career is both inspirational and aspirational for the young people he supports.

“His work in support of the LGBTQI community has also been of real significance and his own journey is one that provides hope and stokes ambition in young people in difficult situations. He’s a wonderful communicator who engages directly with a broad spectrum of audiences, talking passionately and thoughtfully about his beliefs and experiences.”

In response to his fellowship, Alan commented:

Alan Cumming

“We are at a time in history when more than ever before we need to talk, debate, and conclude. It is such an honour to be asked to join such a great group of thinkers and I am so excited to meet the RSE fellows.”

Professor Dame Anne Glover, President of the RSE concludes:

Anne Glover wearing a purple shirt
Professor Dame Anne Glover

The diverse expertise and experience of our fellows, means that, as an organisation, we are well-placed to respond to the issues of the day with clear informed thinking free from commercial or political influence. Our new fellows, who we look forward to welcoming, not only hold vast knowledge but also deep experience, keen judgement, boundless enthusiasm and a passion for promoting societal development and change. By using their talents as a collective, we can often unlock or inspire new potential and unearth fresh solutions to some of the most complex issues Scotland’s society faces today.

The full list of new RSE Fellows 2020 are as follows:


Alan Cumming is an internationally-recognised screen and theatre actor, author, social activist, and – most recently – bar owner, based
Niall Ferguson is deeply interested in past, present and future relationships between Scotland, England, Europe and the rest of the

Corresponding FELLOWs

Dr Bates is an internationally-renowned expert in health information technology, patient safety, and quality. His work has focused on improving
A thirty-year veteran of the Chemical Engineering industry, Joan recently switched careers and moved back from the USA to continue
Professor Alan F Cowman is an expert in the field of malaria and his work has determined how malaria parasites
After receiving a BSc in Biological Sciences from Edinburgh University in 1978 and a PhD from University College London in
Professor Dr Malik R Dahlan is the founder and Principal of Institution Quraysh; Chair of International Law and Public Policy
Mwapatsa Mipando has a special interest in building local academic and research leadership capacity that is locally relevant whilst being
Dr Mohan is one of India’s leading physician/scientists and his area of speciality is Diabetology. Dr Mohan has contributed 1250
Mari Ostendorf joined the University of Washington in 1999. She is an Endowed Professor of System Design Methodologies in the


As an historian of the modern world, Professor Abrams’ research has been primarily concerned with advancing understanding of the nature
Rosalind Allen is a biological physicist who uses theoretical work and experiments to study how microbes – microscopic, single-celled living
Professor Annie Anderson is a Public Health Nutritionist and dietitian. She is co-director of the Scottish Cancer Prevention Network, President
Keith Bell studied electrical engineering as an undergraduate and, by chance, became involved in the planning and operation of the
Professor Borchers is a statistician at the University of St Andrews, specialising in the development and use of statistical methods
Christine Borland is an artist whose work explores our physical and psychological sense of self in relation to society’s institutions
Melfort Campbell founded his first business in 1985 and continues as a non executive with interests in engineering, renewable energy
Menzies Campbell is an advocate, politician, and former Leader of the Liberal Democrats. His practice at the Scottish Bar, from
David Crossman is a cardiologist, clinician scientist. His first academic appointment was Professor of Clinical Cardiology at the University of
Simon Dobson works on adaptive systems, especially those driven by sensors. He has concentrated recently on how to make robust
Penny Fielding formerly held posts at the University of Bristol and Trinity College Dublin. Her research interests are in Scottish
Professor Frost is interested in the history of Poland–Lithuania from the 15th to the 19th Century; the history of Scandinavia,
Prof. Dr. Sebastian Geiger, FREng, FRSE, is the Professor of Sustainable Geoenergy and Energi Simulation Chair at the Department of
Professor Gilbert is a medicinal chemist with an interest in drug discovery for infectious diseases, particularly those affecting low- and
Tom graduated in Human Biology [Anatomy] from the University of Leeds before moving to the University of Edinburgh, graduating with
Rebecca Goss’ research is focused at the chemistry–biology interface. She leads a team working toward the discovery and engineering of
Bruce Guthrie is an academic GP who researches healthcare quality and safety, particularly in relation to multimorbidity, polypharmacy and prescribing.
Katie Hampson is based at the University of Glasgow working on the dynamics and control of infectious diseases and focusing
David Hare is an actuary with a keen interest in ensuring pension savers receive value for money and are equipped
Professor of Political Science and Head of Politics & International Relations at the University of Edinburgh. Professor Ailsa Henderson conducts
Dominic is a theatre and opera director. Over the past 17 years he has worked as Artistic Director of Dundee
Mark Huxham works on the ecology of coastal ecosystems, with particular expertise in mangroves, having spent many years striving to
Ralf Kaiser’s research has been focused on the fundamental structure of matter and on the design and construction of radiation
Dr Deborah Keith has worked in the science and technology sector for all of her career, culminating in leadership of
Fergus was appointed Festival Director of the Edinburgh International Festival in 2014. He graduated English and Classics at University College
Margaret Lucas is a mechanical engineer working in the research area of high-power ultrasonics. She is currently the founding Director
Rory McCrimmon is a Professor of Experimental Diabetes and Metabolism, and Dean, School of Medicine, University of Dundee. His laboratory
Sir Iain McMillan was a senior banker prior to joining the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in 1993. He held
Professor Nasar Meer is based at the University of Edinburgh and works on a number of related topics, mainly to
Currently Chair , Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland ;Chair Scottish Government Digital Board; Provision of Consultancy Services ( governance ,Public
Professor Jill Morrison is the 48th Clerk of Senate (first woman) and Vice-Principal at the University of Glasgow, with responsibilities
In 2008, Dr Morrow was appointed as President of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland, which deals with over 5,000
Professor Mudd is a geomorphologist: a scientist who tries to understand why the landscape looks the way it does and
Miratul Muqit made a major contribution to the discovery of PINK1 protein kinase mutations as a cause of Parkinson’s disease
Professor Scott Murray is passionate that early palliative care may be universally available in the community and requested by patients
Professor Francisca Mutapi, is an award winning international Global Health Researcher and Leader. She is a professor in Global Health
Sandy founded investment firm Edinburgh Partners in 2003. Prior to this he held a range of senior positions in fund
As an archaeologist, Neil’s fieldwork experience covers everything from the early Stone Age in Scotland to the examination of the
Francesca joined NatureScot as CEO on 1 October 2017. Prior to this, she spent over 20 years working for the
Beatrice Pelloni is a mathematician interested in the rigorous study of models of fluid dynamics, in particular the study of
In July 2020, José R Penadés will take up the roles of Director of the MRC Centre for Molecular Bacteriology
Having been part of the search for and discovery of the Higgs boson, Aidan Robson is continuing work on its
Professor Alex Rowe is a malaria expert who trained in medicine (University of Sheffield) and parasite biology (University of Oxford;
Dr Alison Sheridan is an archaeologist, specialising in the Neolithic (New Stone Age), Chalcolithic (Copper Age) and Bronze Age of
Professor Soulsby’s research aims at understanding the movement of water and its interactions with the landscape. His work focuses on
Professor Chris Speed is Chair of Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, where he collaborates with a wide variety
Lord Carloway (Colin J M Sutherland) is Head of the Scottish Judiciary, with responsibility for securing the efficient business of
Stephen Tierney’s research is in constitutional theory and UK and comparative constitutional law. He has published eight books, including two
My current research concerns developing stress resilient potato varieties that are suitable for growing in potato systems in Sub Saharan
Professor Dr Ir Pieter van West is also the Microbiology Programme Lead in the Institute of Medical Sciences at the
Nick Watson’s work on disability focuses on the barriers that society places in the way of disabled people and the
Nick Weston is the General Manager of Renishaw Plc’s Edinburgh site, which comprises a team of around 40 engineers, scientists
Andrew is an economist and founding partner of strategic consultancy, Charlotte Street Partners. He holds a number of directorships, trustee
Talat Yaqoob is a third-sector leader, writer and campaigner, focused on equality issues across politics, public life and the labour