Robert May

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Biographical Information

Robert (Bob) May succeeded Sir Aaron Klug as President of the Royal Society in December 2000. Prior to that, May was the UK government's chief scientific advisor (1995-2000). He received a knighthood in 1996 and was subsequently made Baron May of Oxford. He has been based, like Sir John Krebs, in Oxford University's Zoology Department since 1988. He is a Royal Society research professor specialising in mathematical biology.

"Robert McCredie May, Lord May of Oxford, OM AC Kt FRS, holds a Professorship jointly at Oxford University and Imperial College, London and is a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford. He was President of The Royal Society (2000-2005), and before that Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government and Head of the UK Office of Science and Technology (1995-2000). His career includes a Personal Chair in Physics at Sydney University aged 33, Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology and Chairman of the Research Board at Princeton, and in 1988 a move to Britain as Royal Society Research Professor.

"Particular interests include how populations are structured and respond to change, particularly with respect to infectious diseases and biodiversity. He was awarded a Knighthood in 1996, and appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1998, both for "Services to Science". In 2001 he was one of the first 15 Life Peers created by the "House of Lords Appointments Commission". In 2002, The Queen appointed him to the Order of Merit (the fifth Australian in its 100-year history).

"Honours include: the Royal Swedish Academy's Crafoord Prize (bioscience and ecology's equivalent of a Nobel Prize); the Swiss-Italian Balzan Prize (for "seminal contributions to [understanding] biodiversity"); and the Japanese Blue Planet Prize ("for developing fundamental tools for ecological conservation planning"). He is a Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Sciences, an Overseas Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences, and an Honorary Fellow of various other Academies and Learned Societies. In 2007 he received the Royal Society's Copley Medal, its oldest (1731) and most prestigious award, given annually for "outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science"." [1]


He retired from being the President of the Royal Society in December 2005. Before his retirement from the RS, Lord May was another leading scientist who argued that it was "wishful thinking" that Britain could meet its energy needs with renewables alone. "The truth is that it will be difficult for Britain to lead the way on climate change in the mid-term future without building new nuclear power stations," he wrote in his Daily Telegraph opinion column in September 2004. [1]


For further information, see the relevant SpinProfiles page Robert May

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. Sustainable Consumption Institute Robert May, organizational web page, accessed June 25, 2012.