Two University of Birmingham scientists elected Royal Society Fellows

Two University of Birmingham professors have been elected Fellows of the Royal Society, a fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering and medicine.

Professor Yvonne Elsworth from the School of Physics and Astronomy, and Professor Bryan Turner, from the School of Cancer Sciences, were selected through a peer review process on the basis of their excellence in science.

'Pioneering contributions to solar and stellar physics'

Yvonne-ElsworthProfessor Elsworth is a world leader in solar and stellar physics. She pioneered seismic studies of the Sun, the field of helioseismology. Her ground-breaking contributions have transformed our fundamental understanding of the Sun, in ways that are of key importance for stellar structure and evolution, and for unlocking the secrets of the solar-cycle variations in the Sun's emissions.

Professor Andy Schofield, Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy, said: 'We are delighted at Professor Elsworth's election to the fellowship of the Royal Society. This is extremely well deserved and recognizes not only her pioneering contributions to solar and stellar physics, but also her leading service to the international scientific community and her strong support for women in science.'

'Seminal studies in the field of epigenetics'

Bryan-TurnerProfessor Turner is Professor of Experimental Genetics and Head of the Chromatin and Gene Expression Group in the Institute for Biomedical Research at the University of Birmingham. He is a leading figure in the rapidly developing field of epigenetics.

Professor David Adams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham, said: 'Bryan Turner's election to the Fellowship of the Royal Society is richly deserved. He has contributed to our understanding of one of the most fundamental aspects of biology by developing new conceptual and experimental approaches to understanding how genes are regulated.

'He showed that modifications to histone proteins contribute to an epigenetic code that acts in concert with the DNA to determine how genes function. These seminal studies underpin the rapidly developing field of epigenetics and explain how, for instance, environmental factors can lead to changes in gene function and how these might be passed on to subsequent generations. His insights have also opened up a new field of drug development, leading to new treatments for cancer and many other diseases.'

Professor Elsworth and Professor Turner are among 47 Fellows elected to the Royal Society today.


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Notes to editors

  • In 2011 Professor Elsworth was awarded the Payne Gaposchkin Medal from the Institute of Physics in recognition of her international leadership in observational helioseismology, in particular the studies performed by the Birmingham Solar-Oscillations Network (BiSON). She has recently applied her world-leading techniques to other stars observed by the Kepler space mission, and developed a notable interest in the study of red-giant stars (old Suns).
  • Professor Elsworth was the first woman appointed to the Poynting Chair of Physics. She has a long history of involvement in the policy direction and management of astronomy in the UK and internationally, and recently served on the 2014 Research Assessment Framework panel for Physics. She founded and chaired the Status of Women in Astronomy and Geophysics committee of the Royal Astronomical Society, and served on the Institute of Physics 'Women in Physics' committee.
  • In the 1994 she was instrumental in 'The Rising Tide' report that followed her contributions to the 'Realising the Potential' White Paper under the chief scientific adviser, then Professor Bill Stewart. The lasting influence of her work is seen in improved gender balance in areas of astronomy and in the personal advancement of female scientists whom she has so actively supported.
  • Professor Turner's early research into developing antibody-based technologies still informs how antibodies are made across the multi-million pound industry of molecular cell biology. Laboratories across the globe took up the research pioneered at Birmingham and those principles now underpin much of the modern science of epigenetics.
  • Professor Turner's research has focused on how the packaging of DNA by proteins (primarily the histones) can influence gene expression. To this day the Turner group continues to explore ways in which environmental factors, including chemotherapeutic agents, can alter gene expression through changes in the activities of histone modifying enzymes or binding proteins.
  • Beyond his own research, Professor Turner takes a close interest in the career progression of young researchers, having led the establishment of the Postdoctoral Training and Career Development programme which helps to increase the awareness of future career paths available.
  • The University of Birmingham is ranked among the world's top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 4,000 international students from nearly 150 countries.
  • The University collaborates with partners across the world to produce ground-breaking research.