Congratulations to former RSS President Sir Adrian Smith, who is now president elect of the Royal Society, taking up the post of President on 30 November 2020.
A distinguished statistician, Sir Adrian has led a number of world-leading institutions such as Queen Mary University of London, where he was principal (1998-2008) and the University of London, where he was vice-chancellor (2012-18). He is currenlty director and chief executive of the Alan Turing Institute.
He has also worked closely with government; he was director general for knowledge and innovation in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (now BEIS) from 2008-12. In 2002-4 he led an inquiry into post-14 maths education, and in 2016-18, he led a review of maths teaching for 16-18 year-olds, both for the Department for Education.
Sir Adrian has won the RSS Guy Medal in Bronze (1977), Silver (1993) and Gold (2016) and was RSS President 1995-97. In the 2011 New Year Honours list, he was awarded the title of Knight Bachelor.
Sir Adrian Smith said it was a ‘great personal honour’ to be elected Royal Society president. ‘I am conscious that whatever the social, political and economic contexts, nationally and internationally, it has always been the historical mission of the Royal Society to be the voice and champion of science,’ he said. ‘Our focus must now be on how most effectively to define and discharge that mission to meet the unprecedented challenges of the years ahead.’
There have been 61 Presidents of the Royal Society since it was founded in 1660 and Sir Adrian is the first statistician, at least in the modern sense. Other notable mathematicians who have held the role include William, Viscount Brouncker, Isaac Newton, William Spottiswoode, George Gabriel Stokes and Michael Atiyah.
Photo credit: Alan Turing Institute