Royal Society honours Oxford researchers

Four researchers from the University of Oxford have been honoured by the Royal Society in this year's Royal Society Awards, Medals, and Prize lectures announced today.

Dr Simon Fisher, a Royal Society University Research Fellow at Oxford's Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, has been awarded the Francis Crick Prize Lecture for his ground breaking research in human language.

Dr Fisher's work combines a number of disciplines such as genetics, neuroscience and psychology to investigate what makes us human. He was co-discoverer of the FOXP2 gene and the revolutionary finding that people with faulty versions of this gene have difficulty developing normal speech and language.

Dr Fisher said: 'I feel deeply honoured to have been chosen to deliver the Crick Prize Lecture at the Royal Society. Francis Crick was a truly inspirational scientist; not only was he a pioneer of molecular biology, laying the foundations for modern genetics, but he went on tackle some of the most challenging questions facing the field of neuroscience.'

Sir Roger Penrose, Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at Oxford, has been awarded the Royal Society's Copley medal - the world's oldest prize for scientific achievement - for his exceptional contributions to geometry and mathematical physics.

Sir Roger said: 'The award of the Royal Society's Copley Medal came as a complete surprise to me. It is an extraordinary honour, this being the Royal Society's oldest and most distinguished award, first given just 200 years before I was born. I feel most humbled for my name to be added to that enormously distinguished list of previous recipients.'

The Copley medal was first awarded in 1731. It is awarded for outstanding achievements in scientific research and has been awarded to such eminent scientists as Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

Professor Robert Hedges, Deputy Director of the Laboratory of Archaeology and the History of Art at Oxford has been awarded a Royal Medal for his contribution to the rapid development of accelerator mass spectrometry and radiocarbon dating techniques.

His research focuses on the recovery of information about human and animal diets, and ancient environments, from archaeological sites. This work includes identifying surviving biological molecules and understanding how such molecules degrade over time.

Professor James Murray, Emeritus Professor of Mathematical Biology at Oxford, has been awarded the Bakerian Prize Lecture, the Royal Society's premier lecture in the physical sciences. The award has been made for his groundbreaking work in mathematical biology.

Professor Murray was formerly Director of the Centre for Mathematical Biology at Oxford. He also recently received the Gold Medal of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA).

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