University of Birmingham chemist elected to the Royal Society

University of Birmingham chemist Professor Rachel O’Reilly has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Professor Rachel O'Reilly

This prestigious appointment is granted to just a handful of outstanding scientists from around the globe.

Each year the Royal Society selects up to 52 new fellows, and up to 10 Foreign Members. Candidates must have made 'a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science'.

Professor O’Reilly, who is also Head of the School of Chemistry, works at the biology-materials interface, to create functional polymers and nanoparticles that mimic nature. She is particularly interested in the development of new nanoscale tools that enable predictable and precise construction of macromolecular architectures and enable new directions in materials science.

As well as serving as an Associate Editor for the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Professor O’Reilly is also a reviewing editor for Science. She has received numerous accolades in recognition of her work, including the Macro Group UK medal (2021), Corday Morgan Prize (2020), RSC Industry-Academia Collaboration of the Year (2018), Gibson Fawcett Award (2016), McBain Prize (2014), ACS Mark Young Scholar Award (2013), IUPAC-Samsung Award.(2012), Hickinbottom Medal (2012) and the Meldola Medal (2007). She has been elected as a Fellow of the European Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Professor O'Reilly is an inspirational leader and a generous colleague, and I am pleased to convey our very many congratulations on this exceptional achievement.

Professor Stephen Jarvis, Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences

Professor O'Reilly has been commended for her exceptional originality, productivity and breadth, as well as her pioneering focus on the development of controlled polymerisations. This work has initiated new areas of research in the chemical, materials and biomedical sciences. Critically, these new synthetic strategies have enabled non-experts wide access to responsive nanomaterials with precise control over functionality, greatly expanding the soft matter arena.

Within the academic community, Professor O'Reilly is also recognised for her creative approach to defining new research directions, demonstrating a unique balance between high impact fundamental science and innovative applications. Her leadership in the UK and international chemistry communities provides a role model for the next generation of researchers.

Professor O’Reilly said: “I am delighted and honoured to be elected to the Royal Society. I want to sincerely thank and acknowledge the hard-work, inspiration and collaboration with all my postgraduate students, postdoctoral researchers, academic and industrial collaborators, both past and present.”

Professor Stephen Jarvis, Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, added: “I am delighted that Professor O'Reilly has been recognised for her outstanding contributions to polymer chemistry, with which she is pioneering the development of new materials for novel medical, materials and nanoscience applications. In addition to being a world-leading scientist, Professor O'Reilly is an inspirational leader and a generous colleague, and I am pleased to convey our very many congratulations on this exceptional achievement.”

Welcoming the new Fellows, Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society said: “It is an honour to welcome so many outstanding researchers from around the world into the Fellowship of the Royal Society.

“Through their careers so far, these researchers have helped further our understanding of human disease, biodiversity loss and the origins of the universe. I am also pleased to see so many new Fellows working in areas likely to have a transformative impact on our society over this century, from new materials and energy technologies to synthetic biology and artificial intelligence. I look forward to seeing what great things they will achieve in the years ahead.”

New Fellows are formally admitted to the Society at the Admissions Day ceremony in July, when they sign the Charter Book and the Obligation of the Fellows of the Royal Society.

Notes for editors

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