Lord Willetts elected as honorary fellow of the Royal Society

Lord Willetts, Chancellor-elect of the University and an honorary graduate, has been elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society.

He is among eminent personalities who have been elected as Fellows of the Royal Society for their exceptional contributions to science.

Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, said: “Our Fellows are key to the Royal Society’s fundamental purpose of using science for the benefit of humanity. From Norwich to Melbourne to Ethiopia, this year’s newly elected Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society are testament that science is a global endeavour and excellent ideas transcend borders. We also recognise the cutting edge innovation taking place across industry, with many of this year’s Fellows coming from the thriving tech industry. For their outstanding contributions to research and innovation, both now and in the future, it gives me great pleasure to welcome the world’s best scientists into the ranks of the Royal Society.”

Lord Willetts FRS, is Executive Chair of the Resolution Foundation, Visiting Professor at King’s College, London and member of the House of Lords. He is Chair of the British Science Association and a member of  the UKRI Board. He was educated in Birmingham and entered the world of politics as a researcher for Nigel Lawson, who represented Blaby, in Leicestershire.

Lord Willetts said: “It is a great honour for me, as an honorary graduate of Leicester, to be elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society. It is the world’s oldest scientific society and pioneered foundations of the modern scientific method such as open publication of findings after peer review. I tried to serve the wider scientific enterprise as science minister and continue to try to do so now.”

Lord Willetts is among a select number of former politicians to be elected as Honorary Fellows- others include Margaret Thatcher and Lord Sainsbury.

Former Chancellors at Leicester who were Fellows are Lord Adrian, Sir Alan Hodgkin, Sir George Porter, Sir Michael Atiyah and Sir Peter Williams. Four of them were President of the Royal Society, as were Thomas Tutin and Winifred Pennington, husband and wife who both worked at Leicester as botanists.

Other distinguished Fellows from Leicester include Professor Stan Cowley (Physics & Astronomy), Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys (Genetics),  Ken Pounds (Physics & Astronomy), Harry Smith (Biology), Peter Sneath (Microbiology) Ron Whittam (Physiology); Professor Sir Hans Kornberg, who held a Chair in Biochemistry here from 1960 to 1975 ; the late Professor Charles Reece (Chemistry) and the late Professor Martin Symons (Chemistry).