UCL News


Three UCL researchers among Royal Society Medal winners

30 August 2023

UCL Professors Polina Bayvel, Stephen Fleming and Mohan Edirisinghe have been honoured with prestigious Royal Society Medals recognising their outstanding contributions to science.

Three UCL researchers among Royal Society Medal winners

The winners are announced each summer and celebrated throughout the year at the Royal Society. This year 25 medals and awards were presented, marking excellence across a wide range of scientific research areas and roles. Several of the awards are accompanied by a prize lecture.

Professor Polina Bayvel CBE FREng FRS receives the Rumford Medal for pioneering contributions to the fundamental physics and nonlinear optics, enabling the realisation of high capacity, broad bandwidth, multi-wavelength, optical communication systems that have underpinned the information technology revolution.

Professor Bayvel (UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering), who is the first woman and the first UCL researcher to win the Rumford Medal, said: “I am so deeply honoured to join the list of some of the world’s greatest scientists, responsible for so many discoveries and inventions that have helped understand the world around us and have transformed our lives. It is so extraordinarily humbling, and yet I also feel a tinge of pride at being the first woman to be awarded the prize in its 223-year history and the first UCL recipient.

“I am hugely grateful to my many loved and revered mentors, kind and supportive colleagues and brilliant students. Amongst my colleagues I would like to highlight Professor Robert Killey – we have worked together for over 25 years to make our Optical Networks Group one of the world-leading research groups in optical communications & networks.”

Professor Stephen Fleming receives the Francis Crick Medal and Lecture for tackling foundational questions about the neurobiology of conscious experience and advancing our understanding of the neural and computational basis of metacognition.

Professor Fleming (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences) said: “I am over the moon to receive the Francis Crick Medal and Lecture from the Royal Society. Crick was vitally important in advocating a rigorous science of human consciousness in the 1990s, before which the topic was something of a taboo amongst psychologists and neuroscientists. To have our work recognised by the Royal Society and to be associated through this award with Francis Crick is a wonderful honour.”

Professor Mohan Edirisinghe OBE FREng has been awarded the Clifford Paterson Medal and Lecture. He is recognised for his seminal research in engineering science into making small structures from soft matter in novel scalable ways, creating new frontiers in functional applications causing major advances in manufacturing and healthcare.

Professor Edirisinghe (UCL Mechanical Engineering) said: “I am delighted and feel rewarded for two decades of sustained seminal research on making small structures from soft matter, creating a huge impact on functional applications, especially healthcare. The Royal Society is the pinnacle of international science, and it is very satisfying that I have been chosen to receive this prize.”

Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, said: “On behalf of the Royal Society, I offer my congratulations to all the 2023 recipients of Medals and Awards. The breadth and scope of scientific knowledge and experience reflected in this year’s nominations is nothing short of phenomenal. I am very proud to celebrate such outstanding scientific contributions from so many different specialisms around the world.”



Media contact 

Dr Matt Midgley

E: m.midgley [at] ucl.ac.uk