Following in the footsteps of eminent scientists including Robert Hooke and Edmund Halley, Alex will take over from Sir John Pethica on 1 December, 2014.
Professor Alex Halliday, Fellow by Special Election at Wadham, will continue his role as Head of MPLS (Mathematics, Physics and Life Sciences) at the University of Oxford until September 2015.
Elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2000, Alex specialises in isotope geochemistry which he uses to understand the origins of planets and the present day behaviour of the Earth. He develops and then uses new mass spectrometry techniques to measure small variations in atomic abundances of isotopes. This can help scientists understand issues as different as the age of the Moon, changes to the world’s oceans or the origins of magmas erupting in Hawaii.
As Physical Secretary Professor Halliday will be one of five honorary unpaid officers who give up their time to oversee aspects of the Royal Society's work and objectives. Along with Sir John Skehel FRS, the current Biological Secretary and Vice-President, Professor Halliday will be responsible for overseeing the Society’s scientific business.
The appointment was announced in an email to the Royal Society Fellows. University of Oxford Vice Chancellor, Andrew Hamilton announced it to Oxford’s Council at their meeting in July.
The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. The Society’s fundamental purpose, reflected in its founding Charters of the 1660s, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.
The Officers of the Royal Society are five elected members of the Council. The Officers hold office for one year and are eligible for re-election for no more than five years. They give up their time to oversee aspects of the Society’s work and offer advice to staff to help the Society achieve its objectives. The foundations of the Royal Society date back to the mid-1600s and a group of scientists who met informally at Wadham College, led by the then Warden, Rev Dr John Wilkins.