The British Science Association (BSA) has revealed its cohort of Honorary Fellows for 2022.

This year, the honours have been awarded across three themes that embody ‘The challenges of our time’:

  • Collaboration – for international collaboration, science diplomacy, and/or championing difference, and diverse views;
  • Energy – for progress and innovation in diversification, renewables, clean growth, energy efficiency and the energy crisis; and
  • Environment – for work in biodiversity, food production and food waste, greening urban environments or ocean conservation.

Accepting the accolades this year are:

  • Professor Carole Mundell for collaboration. Professor Mundell was the first woman to hold the post of Chief Scientific Adviser at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
  • Professor Saiful Islam for energy. Saiful is Professor of Materials Modelling at the University of Oxford, working on new materials for lithium and sodium batteries, solid oxide fuel cells and perovskite solar cells.
  • Gillian Burke for contribution to the environment. Gillian is a biologist and TV presenter whose work is being recognised for broadening people’s understanding, and enjoyment of, the natural world.

Carole Mundell, Saiful Islam and Gillian Burke

From left to right, Professor Carole Mundell, Professor Saiful Islam and Gillian Burke

Each year since 2001, partners, colleagues and supporters of the BSA have been invited to nominate individuals to be considered as Honorary Fellows. These are people whose work speaks to the BSA’s vision and mission, which could include:

  • bringing science to the public in a clear and engaging way;
  • challenging the stereotypes of what a scientist looks like; and
  • furthering the inclusion and diversity of science in society.

In October, the BSA and UNBOXED conducted a survey asking 1,000 14-to-19-year-olds their priorities for science, technology and innovation – coming out on top were collaboration, energy and the environment.  

In our aim to make science more relevant to society, we sought to recognise people excelling in these categories.

Hannah Russell, Chief Executive of the BSA, said:

I’d like to congratulate the 2022 Honorary Fellows. We recognise the individual contributions each of the Fellows has made in ensuring their efforts make science more accessible and inclusive.

“Looking to the next generation, we found that 14- to 19-year-olds want the world of science to be focused on two things: developing strong collaborations, which could perhaps be attributed to the successes in creating the COVID-19 vaccine, and tackling the climate emergency.

“We are therefore proud to platform Professor Mundell, Professor Islam and Gillian Burke, three people who exemplify great work in these areas. We look forward to involving them in our programmes, and learning from one another.”

Professor Carole Mundell says:

“I am honoured and delighted to accept this Honorary Fellowship and I will wear the post nominal with pride. Young people recognise the vital importance of international scientific collaboration to tackle global challenges and build a better future. The British Science Association has an outstanding reputation in engaging society with science; their work remains ever more vital in our fast-changing world.”

Professor Saiful Islam says:

“I am delighted and very honoured to become an Honorary Fellow of the British Science Association. In addition to my research, I believe communicating my work to a wide audience is extremely important, and so I’m looking forward to reaching even more people through the Association.”

Gillian Burke says:

“I am very honoured to have been put forward for this prestigious award and to be recognised for bringing stories of the natural world to the public. I hope I can work with the British Science Association to reach even more communities and groups who share a passion for our planet.”

More about our Honorary Fellows

Professor Carole Mundell is a world-leading astrophysicist, science diplomat and vocal advocate for diversity in science. She recently co-authored a paper which recorded a hypermassive star, which astronomers would typically expect to collapse in on itself into a black hole.

Carole is a Professor of Extragalactic Astronomy at the University of Bath where she holds the Hiroko Sherwin Chair in Extragalactic Astronomy and is also a Fellow of the Institute of Physics.

Professor Mundell previously held the position of Chief Scientific Adviser at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office – the first woman to do so. Carole is currently President of The Science Council, which sets the standards for professional registration for practising scientists and science technicians. She is a committed communicator of science and is an advocate for diversity in science.

Professor Saiful Islam is a Professor of Materials Modelling at the University of Oxford and was previously a Professor of Materials Chemistry at the University of Bath. He grew up in London and obtained his PhD from University College London.

Professor Islam’s research interests include computer modelling of new materials for lithium and sodium batteries, and perovskite solar cells. Saiful is a regular presenter at science events and international conferences and gave the 2016 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures for the BBC.

Saiful was awarded the 2022 Royal Society Hughes Medal and sits on the Board of Trustees of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Gillian Burke co-presents the BBC’s Spring Watch and Autumn Watch programmes, having begun her career in natural history filmmaking behind the camera, directing and producing for a number of broadcasters. Gillian is a biology graduate from the University of Bristol where she studied fluctuating asymmetry as a predictor of pesticide resistance in blowfly populations.

Gillian has spoken about how this research led to a deep appreciation of the interconnectedness of all life on earth. In her own words, "I love sharing stories from the natural world that tap into universal themes of awe and wonder, struggle and survival, defeat and victory."

Previous Honorary Fellows have included Sir David Attenborough, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, Dr Helen Sharman, Professor Alice Roberts, Professor Devi Sridhar and Wayne McGregor.

View the full list of BSA Honorary Fellows

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