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5 March 2014

Dundee academics elected Fellows of Royal Society of Edinburgh

Professor Halpin

The University of Dundee's Professor Claire Halpin and Professor Mary Renfrew have been honoured by election as Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE).

Professors Halpin and Renfrew are among 53 new Fellows recognised by the RSE as having achieved excellence within their discipline or profession. These outstanding academics come from a wide variety of disciplines, spanning the arts, business, science and technology sectors.

Professor Renfrew

Professor Pete Downes, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee, congratulated the new Fellows, saying, 'It is a source of pride for the whole University for Professor Halpin and Professor Renfrew to be honoured in this way.

'They join a distinguished list of academics from Dundee who have also been elected as Fellows of Scotland's national academy of science and letters in recognition of their distinguished professional achievements.'

Having passed through a rigorous five-stage nomination process, the new cohort will join those Fellows, past and present, who have strived to uphold the RSE's founding mission to advance learning and useful knowledge. The breadth of the Fellowship ensures that the RSE can provide leadership and excellence across all areas of public life.

Once admitted to the RSE, Fellows are encouraged to contribute to the aims and objectives of the Society, including the provision of expert policy advice to Government and Parliament, outreach education programmes for young people, and public engagement events including conferences and discussion forums.

RSE President Sir John Arbuthnott congratulated all 53 new Fellows, saying, 'The Fellowship is at the very heart and soul of the work of the RSE. One of my most rewarding duties is to oversee the highly-selective process that identifies which of the outstanding candidates nominated each year should be recommended for election to the Fellowship of the RSE.

'With such a great number of highly distinguished individuals joining this year, I have every confidence that they will bring the exceptional skills and experience needed by the RSE to continue its 230-year history of supporting excellence across all areas of academic and public life in Scotland.'

Claire Halpin is Professor of Plant Biology and Biotechnology and Deputy Head of the Division of Plant Sciences at the University. Her research focuses on the biosynthesis of lignin, an essential component of many plant cell walls where it waterproofs and rigidifies the structure and may also suggest ways of allowing plant materials to be used to make biofuels and other industrial products.

Mary Renfrew is Professor of Mother and Infant Health at the University's College of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing, where she has established a multidisciplinary programme focused on tackling inequalities in maternal and infant health and early years.

The RSE was founded in 1783 by Royal Charter and is Scotland's National Academy of Science and Letters. Former and current Fellows of the RSE include Sir Walter Scott, Sir Charles Darwin, John Logie Baird, William Wordsworth, James Clerk Maxwell, John Scott Russell, Francis Crick, Sir James Black, Sir Philip Cohen, Sir David Lane, Sir Paul Nurse, and Fred Sanger.

Today it has around 1500 Fellows whose expertise encompasses the full spectrum of the sciences, medicine, engineering and technology, education, law, the arts, humanities, social sciences, business, industry, the professions and public service. This multi-disciplinary perspective makes the RSE unique amongst the United Kingdom's learned societies.


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Grant Hill
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University of Dundee
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