Professor Cowley’s award is in recognition of his outstanding contributions to nuclear fusion research, which aims to copy the fusion of atoms that takes place in the core of the Sun for a new source of energy in the power stations of the future. His career as a fusion physicist has spanned spells at Culham, Princeton University, University of California Los Angeles and Imperial College London. As well as being CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, Professor Cowley is a part-time professor at Imperial College, London, and one of the Prime Minister’s scientific advisers as a member of the Council for Science and Technology.
He is one of only 50 scientists to be chosen for this year’s Fellowship. Considered to be the pinnacle of achievement in science, the Fellowship is made up of the most eminent scientists and technologists from the UK and the Commonwealth, including around 80 Nobel Laureates. Winners are chosen for their scientific achievements and elected by existing Fellows.
Professor Cowley, who will be admitted to the Fellowship at a ceremony in July, said:
I am honoured, delighted and frankly overawed to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society. It has been my privilege to work with many exceptional scientists – especially at Culham – who, like me, wish to make fusion power a reality. This award recognises all of our work.
Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, said:
Science helps us to better understand ourselves and the natural world on which we depend. Building scientific knowledge helps us face some of the planet’s biggest challenges such as food shortages, climate change and tackling disease. These scientists who have been elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society have already contributed much to the scientific endeavour, whether that is in academia, industry or government.