Academy graduate joins Royal Society

CHARLES Darwin, Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. What do these men have in common?

Their names are synonymous with science, discovery, innovation and ground-breaking revelations: in short, these are some of the greatest minds ever to have graced the face of the earth.

However, in this instance, the connection is that they are all members of the world's oldest scientific academy, the Royal Society.

And, newly chosen to join the ranks of some of the world's greatest scientific minds is a former Bute resident Eleanor Campbell.

Eleanor, a professor of physical chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, was selected alongside 43 other candidates by existing fellows of the Royal Society, a group which includes 25 Nobel prizewinners and holders of many other equally prestigious awards.

Eleanor, a former pupil of Rothesay Academy, told us: "It is a considerable honour to be elected to the Royal Society and a reflection of how highly the scientific community in the UK values the research contributions that my group has made over the years.

"It is particularly gratifying, and somewhat unexpected, since I only recently returned to the UK, having spent all of my career in Germany and Sweden up to 2007.

"I have been very touched by the many congratulatory messages I have received from around the world and this has really brought home the esteem in which the Royal Society is held and the importance that the scientific community, particularly in the UK and Commonwealth countries, places on this honour."

Eleanor recognised those who helped her on her academic way at an early age.

"None of this would have happened if I hadn't been encouraged and supported by some excellent teachers at Rothesay Primary, Rothesay Academy and Edinburgh University," she continued.

"The importance of good, inspirational teachers can never be overestimated."

The Royal Society commented on Eleanor's achievements: "Eleanor Campbell's outstanding work on the fates of fullerenes following collisional or laser excitation has advanced the understanding of electronic and vibrational relaxation and of isomerisation processes in large molecules.

"Her pioneering studies of the fundamental dynamical processes involved in ultrashort laser pulse ablation have greatly increased the precision of two and three-dimensional micro-structuring of dielectric materials.

"She has recently initiated the systematic development of nanoelectromechanical devices using carbon nanotubes and demonstrated working devices."

Eleanor continued: "Being elected to the Fellowship does carry some obligations with it. I feel that I will now be looked on more as a role model. The vast majority of the Fellows, understandably, are male, with a close connection to Oxford and Cambridge universities.

"So I do help to boost the female representation, because only about five per cent of the Fellows are female, as well as the Scottish presence."

She added, "I also look forward to participating in the scientific advisory role of the Society and in helping to ensure that there remains a place for fundamental scientific research in the UK."