University of Bristol academic receives double honour
Press release issued: 27 April 2021
Professor Sir Michael Berry FRS FRSE FRSA, Melville Wills Professor of Physics (Emeritus) at Bristol University, has been admitted as an Honorary Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales (LSW), the UK's newest academy, founded in 2010.
The news arrives at the same time Sir Michael joins the USA's oldest academy, having been elected as a Foreign Member of the American Philosophical Society (APS), established in 1743.
Sir Michael is one of the world’s leading theoretical physicists. He has made major contributions to mathematical physics in both the classical and quantum domains and at their interface.
He said: “It’s overwhelming - and also humbling - to be elected to two academies, equally distinguished in their different ways: the UK's newest and the USA's oldest. What a pleasant symmetry!”
Sir Michael has been in the University of Bristol for more than twice as long as he has not. He became a Professor of Physics at Bristol in 1979, then a Royal Society Research Professor (1988-2006) and has been Melville Wills Professor of Physics (Emeritus) since 2006.
His work focuses on the physics of the mathematics such as the geometry of singularities He delights in finding the arcane in the mundane – abstract and subtle concepts in familiar or dramatic phenomena, including singularities of smooth gradient maps in rainbows and tsunamis and the geometry of twists and turns in quantum indistinguishability.
He joins 45 other new LSW Fellows, all of whom share a link with the country, its universities or intellectual life and are drawn from all specialisms. They include academics from Welsh, UK and overseas higher education institutions as well as individuals who a play a significant role in Welsh public life. Specialisms range from nanotechnology to jazz, parliamentary history to tumour biology and much in between.
Election to the Fellowship is public recognition of excellence and takes place following a rigorous examination of each nominee’s achievements in their relevant field. They demonstrate the ongoing excellence of Welsh research, universities and intellectual life, all of which have shone during the extraordinary events of this pandemic-marked year.
The Society’s Fellowship now numbers 595. Their combined expertise allows the Society to strengthen its contribution to Welsh public life, through its contributions to government policy development, public lectures and seminars and its expanding Wales Studies programme.
The Society’s President, Professor Hywel Thomas added: "I am delighted to welcome our new Fellows to the Learned Society of Wales. This past, extraordinary, year has shown the value of world-class research. There is a thirst for knowledge and expertise, in all fields, as we try to recover from the challenges of the pandemic. Our Fellows are at the forefront of that knowledge and expertise.”
The new Fellows will be formally admitted at the Society’s AGM which will be held on 19 May.
The APS was founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin for the purpose of promoting useful knowledge. Today, the society honours and engages leading scholars, scientists, and professionals through elected membership and opportunities for interdisciplinary, intellectual fellowship. They support research and discovery through grants and fellowships, lectures, publications, prizes, exhibitions, and public education.