ReSourcE 45 Winter 2014 - The Royal Society of Edinburgh

The Newsletter of Scotland’s National Academy
Sir John Arbuthnott hands over the Presidency
of the RSE to Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the first
lady ever to hold this position. More inside ....
Photo by Gary Doak.
Also featured in this issue:
Saving Craigellachie Bridge
Resourcing of Science in Scottish Schools
Visit by President of the European Research Council
resource WINTER 2014
45th President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell DBE CBE BSc PhD FRS MRIA FInstP FRAS
• (Susan) Jocelyn Bell Burnell was born in Belfast, the daughter of an architect.
• She was one of the first girls allowed to study science at Lurgan College in Northern
• She failed her 11-plus and was sent to Mount School, York, a Quaker School, where
she had an inspirational physics teacher.
• She graduated from Glasgow University and became a post-graduate student,
researching in astrophysics at Cambridge.
• In July 1967, she detected a bit of “scruff” on her chart-recorder papers. It turned
out to be a rapidly rotating neutron star, or pulsar – the first ever to be detected.
However, the subsequent Nobel Prize was awarded not to her but to her thesis
supervisor, Antony Hewish.
• She has won numerous awards across the world and is Visiting Professor of
Astrophysics at Oxford. She was the first woman to become President of the
Institute of Physics and is the first woman President of the RSE.
• She was appointed CBE in 1999 and Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2007.
(Extracted from The Times 15 February 2014)
RSE Royal Medals and the IEEE/RSE/Wolfson, James Clerk Maxwell Award 2014
Two RSE Royal Medals were awarded in 2014, the
first to Professor Sir Thomas W B Kibble CBE FRS for his
involvement in the research and discovery of the mechanism
that gives mass to elementary particles. Sir Tom received
his award at the University of Edinburgh School of Physics
Graduation Ceremony in the McEwan Hall in June. He is
pictured (left) earlier that day, signing the RSE Royal
Medals book.
Gareth Easton Photography
The second award was made to Professor Richard G M
Morris CBE FRS FRSE (right) for his pioneering work in
neuroscience, which has raised the possibility of
treatments to stem the global epidemic of dementia
and cognitive decline. Professor Morris received his
award at the RSE ASM in October. The citation for
Professor Morris was read by RSE Vice-President,
Professor Anna Dominiczak (pictured on facing page).
This year, the RSE was also pleased
to give the RSE/IEEE/Wolfson,
James Clerk Maxwell Award to
Sir David Payne, Director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre, Southampton,
for his groundbreaking contributions to optical fibre technologies and their
application to optical communications. He is pictured (left, second from
right), at the IEEE Honors Ceremony in August, held at the RAI Convention
Centre in Amsterdam with: (l-r) Howard E. Michel, IEEE President-Elect;
Derek Milne, Manager of Marketing Communications at Cirrus Logic; and
J. Roberto B. de Marca, IEEE President and CEO.
Earlier this year, Wolfson Microelectronics was acquired by the US based
company, Cirrus Logic. Although the Wolfson name will not continue, the
RSE is pleased to report that, in 2015, Cirrus Logic will continue to support
the James Clerk Maxwell Award, under that corporate brand.
resource WINTER 2014
Changes at the RSE
This year’s Annual Statutory Meeting saw a number of important changes
to the membership of Council.
Sir John Arbuthnott came to the end of his time as President, after a highlyproductive three years in the role. Sir John said he had found his time as
President very rewarding: it had been a busy and, at times, a testing experience,
but the support from Council and the wider Fellowship had been invaluable.
He handed over the Presidency to Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the
outstanding astrophysicist and prominent science communicator.
This year’s ASM also saw the appointment of: two new Vice-Presidents,
Professor Neva Haites and Professor John Wallace; a new Fellowship
Secretary, Professor John Connell; and a new Convener of the Audit and
Risk Management Committee, Dr Robert Black.
In addition, the RSE’s Laws were amended to enable Council to nominate a
Vice-President as Deputy President to represent the Society on behalf of the
President in his/her absence, when required. Council has since agreed that
Professor Sir David Wallace should assume this position for the present
period of his term of office, which ends on 31 March 2016.
Our thanks go to outgoing Council members: Professor Sir John Arbuthnott
MRIA FMedSci; Professor Anna Dominiczak OBE FMedSci; Professor Graham
Caie; Professor Alan Miller; and Sir Brian Ivory CBE for their hard work and
dedication during their time in post.
Sir John Arbuthnott is
pictured with Lady Elinor
Arbuthnott, who was also a
regular and welcome visitor
to the RSE during Sir John’s
Professor Anna
Dominiczak (left)
and Professor
Graham Caie (right)
Current Council
and Office-Bearers
(those in italics are new appointments
in October 2014)
Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell DBE FRS MRIA
General Secretary
Professor Alan Alexander OBE
Deputy President
Sir David Wallace CBE KB FRS
Professor Tariq Durrani OBE
(Life Sciences)
Professor Neva Haites OBE
Mr Ian Ritchie CBE
(Arts & Humanities)
Professor John Wallace CBE
Mr Gerald Wilson CB
Fellowship Secretary
Professor John M C Connell
Ordinary Members of Council
Professor Doreen Cantrell CBE FRS
Professor Robert Cormack
Dr Barbara Crawford OBE
Sir Muir Russell KCB
Dame Joan Stringer DBE
Convener of Audit and Risk Management
Committee and Council Observer
Dr Robert W. Black CBE
Dr Iain Gordon Brown
Programme Convener
Sir Andrew Cubie CBE
Research Awards Convener
Professor Steve Beaumont OBE
Young People’s Programme Convener
Dr Chris van der Kuyl
Education Committee Convener
Professor Sally Brown OBE
Professor Alan
Miller (left)
and Sir Brian
Ivory (right)
Photographs on pages 2 and 3 are by Gary Doak
(except those of Sir Tom Kibble, Professor Caie,
Professor Miller and Sir Brian Ivory).
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Monday 9 February 2015 Tuesday 17 February
at 6 pm
2015 at 6 pm
Monday 23 February
Eating Disorders in
Scotland: How will we
Feeding the Future:
Can we do it Sustainably? Manage?
International Year of
Light - the Launch of a
Year of Celebration
Professor Tim Benton
UK Champion for Global Food
Security & Professor of Population
Ecology, University of Leeds
Dr E Jane B Morris
Consultant Psychiatrist, The Eden
Unit Royal Cornhill Hospital;
Aberdeen Lead Clinician, North of
Scotland Managed Clinical Network
for Eating Disorders; Honorary
Senior Lecturer, University of
Aberdeen; Honorary Fellow,
Universities of Glasgow and
Edinburgh; Associate, Newnham
College, Cambridge
Image ©BBSRC
There is much discussion of the world's
demand for food being set to double in
the next decades. Climate change's
impacts on farming are also increasingly
being felt. Farming is competing for
access to land and water, and its impacts
on the natural environment (whether
through habitat loss, impact on
biodiversity, impact on water bodies or
carbon emissions) are often highlighted
from local to global levels. Is it possible
to grow more food, sustainably, or do we
need to change our expectations of what
can be made available?
Joint lecture with the Scottish
Consortium for Rural Research and
the Society of Biology, Scotland
American research suggests 11% of girls
have an eating disorder during their
teens. Boys are increasingly diagnosed,
as we recognise that these are disorders
of obsessive weight-losing behaviour,
including compulsive exercise too.
Anorexia nervosa has the highest
mortality of any psychiatric disorders,
whilst surviving sufferers and their
families experience living hell. Dr Morris
will discuss Scotland’s struggle to
confront, prevent and manage these
conditions over the past 50 years and
examine the challenges ahead.
Various speakers and exhibitors
including: Professor Malcolm
Longair CBE FRS FRSE and
Professor Robert Crawford FRSE
Light is fundamental to the existence of
life and plays an increasingly important
role in shaping society through medicine,
communications, entertainment and
culture. In recognition of this, the United
Nations has proclaimed 2015 as the
International Year of Light and
Light-based Technologies.
This event will mark the start of the Year
by exploring all these different aspects
of light; how it is used in science and
industry, how it impacts on modern
society and influences our culture
through ideas, art and technology.
Organised in partnership with the
Institute of Physics
resource WINTER 2014
Tuesday 17 March 2015
Light (in the form of Optics) now carries
almost all our information over nearly all
the distance it travels. The exponential
growth of data on the Internet relies on
optical fibre and photonic technology.
But handling that data requires power, in
environmentally significant amounts,
with most of the energy dissipated for
communicating inside machines and data
centres. New generations of integrated
photonic technology may solve that
problem too, thereby sustaining society’s
insatiable demand for data.
Light, Energy and the
Professor David Miller CorrFRSE FRS
W M Keck Foundation Professor of
Electrical Engineering and Professor
by Courtesy of Applied Physics,
Stanford University. Co-Director,
Standford Photonics Research
Center, Standford University CA
Monday 20 April 2015
at 6 pm
The Race for Clean
Energy: Removing the
Fossil from the Fuel
Professor Lee Cronin FRSC FRSE
Regius Chair of Chemistry,
University of Glasgow
This is a joint lecture with the Royal
Academy of Engineering.
Humanity depends upon fossil carbon,
but with CO2 levels above 400 parts per
million, the race is now on to develop
better, cleaner energy systems. New
methods are required to convert wind
and sunlight to fuel, to store energy,
and to ensure fixation-activation of the
atmospheric CO2. The solutions must
not only be cheap and scalable, but also
socially and politically acceptable, if
humanity is going to prosper beyond
the end of this century.
In this lecture, Professor Cronin will
describe his work at the fundamental,
device and system levels, exploring new
routes to solar fuels.
RSE Events are open to all and normally free to attend, but registration is required. To register,
please contact the Events Team – 0131 240 2780 – [email protected] or go online at: Some events may carry a charge – please check individual details.
Many RSE events run to full capacity. If you book a place at any event but are unable to attend, it
would be appreciated if you could inform the Events Team so that your place can be reallocated.
PLEASE NOTE: If you usually book event tickets online, the RSE has recently launched a new
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events. The site is accessed from the RSE website as usual and guidance is provided as you
proceed to the new system. You must have an email address if you wish to use the online
booking system. Please do not hesitate to contact the events team if you have any problems
using the new system.
resource WINTER 2014
The RSE Young Academy
of Scotland
Arts and Humanities at the
On 8 October, the Young Academy brought together politicians,
academics and practitioners to discuss: how Arts and
Humanities research and practice can contribute to Scotland’s
future by helping to address the challenges facing our society.
This event, held in the Fairfax Somerville committee room at
the Scottish Parliament, was hosted by Clare Adamson MSP
and addressed by Mike Russell MSP, then Cabinet Secretary
for Education and Lifelong Learning (pictured left and centre
in middle image). In their opening remarks, both of these
politicians were very supportive of the aims of the event, looking
to promote Arts and Humanities research and practice.
Professor Rob Dunbar, Pauline McLean (BBC), Dr Fiona Watson
and Professor Christopher Whatley FRSE (pictured right below)
made up the expert panel and all spoke eloquently about how
they viewed the Arts and Humanities and their place within society.
After a lively discussion around funding and recognition of arts
and humanities projects, the event turned to the networking
portion of the evening. This second hour also featured an
exhibition of projects that show how research and innovation in
the arts and humanities can benefit society. These included:
• The Foundry – creating culture out of Glasgow’s industrial
• Technophonia – innovation in music and technology in
• Prison projects – bringing arts and culture to Scottish prisons;
• Coastal heritage at risk – from Wemyss caves in Fife to
Sanday in Orkney;
• New Speakers of Gaelic – emerging from urban Scotland and
The Young Academy Arts and Humanities Working Group said:
“Both sides in the Independence Referendum campaign talked
about creating a better and fairer society in Scotland. Culture,
heritage and creativity can help sustain relationships, foster
ideas of identity and develop strong and resilient communities.
Research and funding in this area is vital for addressing social
inequality and exclusion, poor health, educational disadvantage,
environmental change and economic hardship. We want to
see the arts and humanities valued more in Scotland.”
It is hoped that this event will be the springboard for further
discussions in this area. Many questions were raised in the
discussions at this event and the YAS Arts and Humanities
Working Group will be concentrating on trying to tackle these
questions in the coming years.
The event brochure can be viewed at:
resource WINTER 2014
Connecting Scotland’s Entrepreneurial Network
On the evening of 2 October 2014, over 90 entrepreneurs from across Scotland
gathered for the event ‘Connecting Scotland’s Entrepreneurial Network’ at the Royal
Scots Club, Edinburgh. The event brought together RSE Fellows, RSE Enterprise
Fellows, members of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland, Saltire Fellows, entrepreneurs,
investors and organisations that support commercialisation in Scotland.
The event, chaired by Edward Cunningham CBE FRSE (pictured top right), was
funded by the RSE and the Young Academy of Scotland, with support from the
Saltire Foundation.
The focus of the event was on linking talent across the organisations and creating
opportunities. The format was designed to ensure that, after the first pitch session,
all of the entrepreneurs would have the opportunity to discuss their business models
and challenges they face with a round table of participants with a range of relevant
experiences and connections. Entrepreneurs benefited from the diversity of other
participants with backgrounds across technology, life sciences, business, finance and
marketing. Only time will tell, but the connections forged are expected to strengthen
business propositions and stimulate new ventures.
Twenty-four entrepreneurs had the opportunity to pitch their businesses and the
standard of pitches was outstanding. The prize for the winning pitch went to Margot
McBride (middle right) from the University of Dundee for her mobile x-ray device.
A number of other prizes were also awarded to a variety of pitchers, including:
• David Hunter (bottom right) for his golf tracking/data collection technology (ShotScope
• John Ferguson (bottom centre) for his company producing ethical and sustainable
products from Sisal (East Africa Sisal Company); and
• YAS member, Andrew Manches (on right in image below left, in conversation with
Alexander Kagansky, member of the Young Academy for Scotland) for his
'Digiblocks' for the maths/education market.
All the Prizes were kindly donated by m2lasers.
Some feedback from the event:
“great to see the entrepreneurial spirit being brought together across the
organisations and generations”;
“this was a pitching and networking event with a difference”;
“the buzz and atmosphere last night was totally conducive in supporting the success
of the evening”.
Grants for RSE Fellows
resource WINTER 2014
Travel Grant to Mexico
Professor Peter Slater, Emeritus Professor
of Natural History, University of St Andrews
Professor Slater visited the National Autonomous University
of Mexico (UNAM) Biological Station in Chamela, Mexico in
May/June 2014. The aim of the visit was to build on earlier
studies of the happy wren (Pheugopedius felix), with further
work specifically on duet integration using pairs of birds
held temporarily in captivity, and with studies of the use
of song in birds that had re-mated with different birds since
earlier surveys in 2010 and 2011.
Travel Grant to Australia
Professor E Marian Scott OBE, University of Glasgow
Professor Scott has been appointed a distinguished visiting
scientist to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science
agency. During a visit to Australia in June and July 2014, she
was able to use an RSE travel grant to extend the length and
scope of her activities.
The majority of her time was spent in Melbourne, based at
Monash University campus, but Professor Scott was also able
to make a research visit to Adelaide (to the Environmental
Protection Authority) in June and to speak at the annual
Australian Statistical Conference in Sydney in July on
environmental quality and trends in Scotland.
As a result of attendance at the ASC, Professor Scott received
invitations to visit the University of Western Australia in Perth
and the University of Wollangong, National Institute for
Applied Statistics Research Australia (NIASRA).
Other visits resulted in the development of several new
research themes, linked to the new Urban Big Data Centre,
based in Glasgow and funded by ESRC. Two resulting new
research directions are on: soil quality mapping using high
resolution spectral images; and the development and
benchmarking of urban indicators.
An exceptionally early breeding season in 2014 meant that
the original plan had to be modified, but a large number of
individuals were ringed and recorded and these data added
substantially to the long term data that had previously been
collected on this species. In addition, the team carried out a
pilot experiment on song matching in two captive males,
and a more extensive study on whether the sounds of other
species affect the timing of song.
This was a fourth visit to Chamela by the research group and
the data obtained added considerably to existing knowledge
of the species. It also added to the collaboration with
researchers from UNAM and was useful training in handling
birds, sound recording and field experimentation for research
students from both St Andrews and UNAM.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh administers a Grants Fund for the award
of grants to Fellows and Young Academy Members in support of research
and scholarship. All Fellows and Young Academy Members, whether in
employment or retired, are eligible to apply, other than those serving on
Council and/or the Grants Committee, regardless of which organisation
they are based in. Joint applications (between Young Academy Members
and Fellows) are considered favourably, for those grants where it is
possible to make a joint application.
Closing dates for applications to the Grants Committee are the last working
days in February, May, August and November
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Grant for Visiting Lecturer to Scotland
Professor Bonnie Webber (below right) applied for a grant in order to bring Professor
Barbara Grosz (top right), Professor of Natural Sciences, School of Engineering and
Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Massachussetts, to Scotland to deliver a series
of lectures to coincide with this year’s New Fellows Induction Ceremony, at which
Professor Grosz was welcomed as the first distinguished woman computer scientist
to be made a Corresponding Fellow of the RSE. Professor Webber read the citation at
the Induction Ceremony on 19 May 2014, before Professor Grosz was welcomed to
Fellowship by the President, and invited to sign the role.
Whilst in Scotland, Professor Grosz gave lectures at the School of Informatics, University
of Edinburgh (also attended by researchers from the Department of Computer Science
at Heriot-Watt University); the School of Computing, University of Dundee; and the
Department of Computing Science, University of Aberdeen. At each site, researchers
from two non-intersecting groups (Natural Language Processing and Multo-Agent
Systems) attended and Professor Grosz was able to demonstrate the links between
their research that can be exploited to improve health care coordination. This is likely
to influence the direction of subsequent research by both groups.
The title of Professor Grosz’ talk was Health Care Coordination and Health Literacy:
The Need for Smart Multi-agent Systems and it covered the research on health care
coordination that links her well-known work on computational models of discourse
and dialogue and her renowned work on multi-agent collaborations.
Joint Project with the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC)
Professor Clive Greated,
University of Edinburgh and
Dr Bing Chen,
Dalian University of Technology (DUT)
Development of a new buoy-type energy converter
This collaborative programme between the
University of Edinburgh and Dalian University
of Technology (DUT) aimed to develop a new
buoy-type wave energy converter which can
generate electricity on board, rather than
pumping water along a pipeline to a shorebased turbine. This offers flexibility of
deployment in deep, intermediate or shallow
water and avoids expensive sea bed and landbased installations. Laboratory experiments
were conducted in wave flumes at both Dalian
and Edinburgh, to examine the practicalities of
implementing such a system and also to test
a numerical model developed at DUT for
predicting performance characteristics.
Professor Greated delivers lecture at Dalian University of Technology Panjin campus
This joint project benefitted the individuals
and institutions involved by facilitating an
exchange of expertise in advanced wave
generation techniques and numerical
modelling and the sharing of experimental
wave tank facilities.
In wider terms, China benefitted from the
expertise built up in Scotland in the area of wave
testing and energy and Scotland benefitted by
gaining access to a wider scientific community
and expertise in numerical modelling at DUT.
Professor Greated and Dr Chen at the Edinburgh Flowave Tank
Fellows in Action
resource WINTER 2014
Congratulations to Professor
Jean Marcel Tirole HonFRSE (r),
Scientific Director, Institut
d'Economie Industrielle (IDEI),
Toulouse, who has been
awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize
in Economics for his analysis
of market power and regulation.
Regulators and competition
authorities have obtained
"a whole new set of tools"
from Professor Tirole's work,
according to the Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences, which
announced the award.
Professor Philip Schlesinger (r),
Professor in Cultural Policy,
University of Glasgow, has been
appointed a non-executive
member of the Ofcom Content
Board to represent the people of
Scotland. He has been a member
of Ofcom’s Advisory Committee
for Scotland since 2004 and its
Chairman since 2009, a role he
will continue until the end of
2014. His three-year appointment
to the Content Board begins on
1 December 2014.
Something like a Spider’s Web
From RSE Fellow, Professor Roland Paxton MBE FICE’s lecture delivered
in Craigellachie Village Hall on the Bicentenary of Craigellachie Bridge.
In 1812, Telford wrote: “Having
measured the width of the river and
learned the height to which the floods
rise, and having considered the nature
of the foundations, the depth of water,
and other circumstances, I became
satisfied that any stone bridge with
piers in the river would cause an expense
and continual risk, but an iron arch ....
of 150 ft, I am convinced might be
accomplished for about £8000”.
This indeed proved to be the case during
the great flood of 1829, when other
bridges down the length of the river were
washed away but the Craigellachie arch
survived. The figure (top left, facing page)
illustrates the depth the water reached
on that occasion and, in red, a notional
idea of the larch centering used to support
the ironwork during fixing in 1814.
Craigellachie Bridge soon after completion. Drawn and published by J. Grant, Elgin. ©Paxton
The Craigellachie Bridge is a cast iron arch bridge located at Craigellachie, near the
village of Aberlour in Moray, Scotland. It was designed by the renowned civil engineer
Thomas Telford FRSE and built between 1812 and 1814. The bridge has a single span
of approximately 46 metres (151 ft) and was revolutionary for its time, in that it used
an extremely slender arch which was not possible using traditional masonry
construction. The ironwork was cast at the Plas Kynaston iron foundry at Cefn Mawr,
near Ruabon in Denbighshire, by William Hazledine, who cast a number of Telford
bridges. The ironwork was transported from the foundry through the Ellesmere Canal
and Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, then by sea to Speymouth, where it was loaded onto
wagons and taken to the site. Testing in the 1960s revealed that the cast iron had an
unusually high tensile strength. This was likely specified by Telford because, unlike in
traditional masonry arch bridges, some elements of the arch and spandrel struts are
not in compression under loading. At each end of the structure there are two 15 m
(49 ft) high masonry mock-medieval towers, featuring arrow slits and miniature
crenellated battlements.
Craigellachie Bridge is technically
outstanding as the world’s earliest
surviving example of an innovative,
light-weight, prefabricated cast iron
bridge type, which made a significant
contribution to Britain’s roads before the
railway age. With spans longer than then
practicable in stone, and exhibiting an
unparalleled combination of strength,
economy and intuitive design. By 1830,
the genre had been adopted in nearly
half of all the world’s cast iron bridges
with spans over 32 m. It achieved a
unique ‘spider’s web’ lightness by
distributing forces throughout the
whole framework, using high quality
ductile castings of nearly half the tensile
strength of modern mild steel and, in
addition to traffic loads, has been able
to accommodate a temperature range
of movement of about one inch.
resource WINTER 2014
After 150 years of valuable service,
surviving the great flood, deck
strengthening in 1902, and carrying
‘extremely heavy’ military vehicles from
1939 to 1945, the bridge was closed for
a major refurbishment in 1963–64. The
bridge was reconstructed above its
original ribs and cross-bracing, with care
taken to retain its original character. This
involved replacement steel spandrels,
deck beams and railings, but the original
deck plates were retained to support a
reinforced concrete deck. A 14 ton
restriction was placed on the bridge at
this point. This, along with the fact that
the road to the north of the bridge takes
a sharp right-angled turn against a
100 ft-tall excavated rock face, made it
unsuitable for modern vehicles. Despite
this, it carried foot and vehicle traffic
across the River Spey until 1972, when
its function was replaced by a steel and
reinforced concrete bridge, which carries
the A941 road today.
In 2007, this A-listed bridge was dubbed an International Historic Civil Engineering
Landmark and this was recognised at the bridge by the knowledge-promotion
plaque presented by the American Society of Civil Engineers and erected by Moray
Council on a masonry plinth. Professor Paxton worked to this end, on behalf
of the Panel for Historical Engineering Works of the Institution of Civil Engineers
and with support from Moray Council, local people and the American Society.
Professor Paxton is pictured below (on right) at the International plaque unveiling
in 2007 with Dr Henry Petroski, American civil engineer, historian and author.
Since being bypassed in 1972, the bridge has received little
maintenance. In July 2014, the Concrete & Corrosion
Consultancy Practice Ltd, at the initiative of Moray Council,
inspected the bridge (left) and found it to be in generally
good condition, but in need of refurbishment, costing in
the order of £400,000, to keep in good order. With its use
now limited to recreational, educational and environment
enjoyment as an international historic monument, this is
too large a sum to expect the Council to find from its bridge
maintenance budget. Help with funding to obviate further
deterioration of the bridge is now being sought and the
‘Friends of Craigellachie Bridge’ has been established,
hopefully to provide the essential local support to ensure
the bridge’s preservation for the next 200 years.
(Extracted from article by Professor Paxton that appeared in the
November 2014 issue of the Knock News, Banffshire).
The RSE comments ....
resource WINTER 2014
The Resourcing of Science in Scottish Schools
The Learned Societies’ Group on Scottish Science Education
Recognising that more than ten years
have passed since data were gathered
about the funding of practical science
in Scottish schools, the LSG determined
that it should investigate the current
resource allocated for delivering science
education in Scottish schools. A further
impetus to gather up-to-date
information in Scotland was the work
undertaken by the Science Community
Representing Education (SCORE) on the
resourcing of practical science at primary
and secondary school levels in England.
In 2013, that research highlighted an
acute shortage in schools and sixth form
colleges of essential equipment and
consumables for practical work in
science. There were concerns the
situation may be similar in Scotland.
Earlier this year, the LSG commissioned
Pye Tait Consulting to carry out a survey
of state-maintained primary and
secondary schools in Scotland to gather
evidence on the resources allocated to
the delivery of the science curriculum.
The surveys generated responses from
39 individual primary schools and 46
individual secondary schools. The small
samples mean that the results of the
surveys are intended to provide an
indication only of the Scotland-wide
The Learned Societies’ Group on Scottish
Science Education (LSG) was established
in 2012. It arose from concerns about,
and an awareness of the need to
contribute to, the major reforms in the
delivery of science education in Scottish
schools. Its remit includes identifying
and promoting priorities for school
science education in Scotland;
monitoring and responding to school
science education initiatives and
developments; and stimulating debate
relating to these issues.
Chaired by Professor Sally Brown OBE
FRSE, and coordinated by the RSE, other
members of the LSG are drawn from the:
Association for Science Education; British
Computer Society; Engineering Policy
Group in Scotland; Institute of Physics;
Royal Society of Chemistry; and Society
of Biology.
The LSG launched its report of the
findings on 12 November at the annual
Science and the Parliament event at Our
Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. The results
suggest that pupils in state schools in
Scotland are not being provided with
the science equipment and resources
needed to meet the requirements of
the curriculum. The findings indicate
that the amount of money spent per
pupil on science education for the
Curriculum for Excellence in primary
and secondary schools in Scotland is
less than in England for their more
traditional courses.
The average annual spend on science
in 2013/14 in Scottish primary schools
was £1.62 per pupil. This compares
with £2.89 in England in 2011/12, as
reported by SCORE. The situation is
similar for the Scottish secondary
schools surveyed, with an average
reported annual spend on science of
£7.33 per pupil, compared to £10.12
in England as detailed in the SCORE
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Other key findings include 98% of
Scottish primary and secondary schools
reporting that they have to draw on
external funding sources to support
practical science work. In secondary
schools, teachers commonly contribute
towards normal curricular activities
from their own pockets. Results from
secondary science departments further
indicate that spending on reprographics
accounts for more than double the
amount allocated for science
More than 80% of secondary schools
indicated that they are not confident
of having enough equipment to deliver
practical science work effectively over
the next two years. In primary schools,
45% of teachers reported having no
access to safety equipment or to an
appropriate science resources area.
The surveys indicate that teachers are insufficiently supported to teach science. In
secondary schools, 44% reported being dissatisfied with levels of technician support,
while confidence in teaching practical science is reported to be an issue in some
primary schools.
Teachers’ survey responses included the following:
“Essentials such as stationary and reprographics take up a huge part of the budget,
then it’s annual consumables and replacing basics due to wear & tear. We never have
funds within the budget to buy new innovative equipment or to fund trips”.
“The majority of physics equipment is over 40 years old. It is damaged, broken or not
working and far too expensive to replace. Unless all staff are confident to teach
science, equipment will not be requested or used”.
The LSG intends to use the findings as it engages with local and national government,
school leaders, parents and industry bodies in efforts to ensure that school science is
sufficiently resourced and supported. The group believes that, given national policy
ambitions for enhancing and maintaining the vitality of Scotland's strong science
base, it is important that priority is afforded to STEM (science, technology,
engineering and mathematics) education in primary and secondary schools.
The LSG summary of the main findings and Pye Tait’s full survey analysis are available
from the LSG webpage on the RSE website:
If you would like to know more about the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Friends of the Society initiative,
or if your organisation may be interested in joining the scheme, please contact:
Nicole Harrington, Development Officer – 0131 240 2785 – [email protected]
resource WINTER 2014
The RSE comments ....
Becoming a Good Food Nation: the RSE responds to the
Scottish Government’s consultation on Scotland’s next food
and drink policy
The RSE has called for a
degree of realism on a
proposed new national
food and drink policy
for Scotland. The
Scottish Government’s
consultation document
set out a vision of
Scotland as a ‘Good
Food Nation’ and
identified a number
of priority areas for
action, including food in the public sector, a children’s food policy, local food, good
food choices and continued economic growth.
Whilst welcoming the broad vision and agreeing that each of the priority areas is
important, the RSE suggests that the policy must recognise the long timescales
required to make progress in changing some of Scotland’s most entrenched dietary
habits and culture. Further, the policy must explicitly recognise that there are
potential conflicts between its goals, such as growth of the food and drink sector
and improved diets.
Other key points raised in the response include:
• The benefits of taking an international perspective, drawing from experiences
across the UK, Europe and further afield, to allow Scotland to develop
well-informed, evidence-based initiatives from the outset.
• That the establishment of a Food Commission could be a useful vehicle through
which to drive progress towards the Good Food vision, but that this must be done
with careful consideration of how the Commission would link with the numerous
bodies that already play a role in achieving the goals of the vision.
• That the RSE is particularly concerned about the broad allusion to the Food
Commission having some responsibility for setting research priorities and calls for
clarity on how this would sit with the current management of integrated research
by the Scottish Government’s Rural and Environmental Science and Analytical
Services Division (RESAS).
Europe 2020: The Way Ahead
In October, the RSE also responded to
the European Commission’s review of
Europe 2020, the EU’s strategy for ‘smart,
sustainable, inclusive’ growth. The strategy,
launched in 2010, sets out targets in five
key areas of employment, research and
development, energy, education and
poverty, to be achieved by 2020.
The RSE highlighted the need to consider
the context of this mid-way review, which
comes at a time of rising Euro-scepticism
and of change within both the European
Parliament and the Commission itself.
The refresh of Europe 2020 is a powerful
opportunity to reconnect with European
citizens; to re-assess the purpose of the
EU; and agree the principles and added
value that guide EU action.
In addition, the effects of the economic
crisis continue to be felt. The strategy
calls for investment at all levels (regions,
Member States, EU) in programmes that
will contribute to growth, but this does
not sit comfortably with the EU’s fiscal
policy of austerity.
The RSE sets out three principles that
should shape the review of the strategy
and its targets, that:
• EU action must be designed to
add maximum value;
• the strategy must recognise and
enhance the role of actors at
sub-national level; and
• the strategy must take account
of the inter-relationships between
the targets of Europe 2020, in order
to avoid unforeseen and unintended
Read discussion document at:
Read the full response:
Read the full response at:
Science and the Parliament 2014
resource WINTER 2014
Science and the Parliament is the biggest annual gathering of scientific and policymaking communities in Scotland. Organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC),
with the support of the RSE, the event attracts the support of learned organisations,
further and higher education and industry across the full spectrum of science and
engineering disciplines. The event is also well supported and attended by MSPs and
senior members of the civil service.
At this year’s event, the focus was on education. In his introduction in the printed
programme, RSC President, Dominic Tildesley CBE said, “Scotland has a great
tradition for education, both at school and tertiary level, with some of the oldest
universities in the world..... There has also been much change in Scottish education,
with developments such as the Curriculum for Excellence and new National
Qualifications; while post-Referendum we need to see how the infrastructure
suporting research develops, with the consideration of further powers for the
Scottish Parliament and Government.”
The keynote speaker at the event was new RSE President, Jocelyn Bell Burnell,
pictured above (right) with Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning, Science and
Scotland’s Language and Professor Lesley Yellowlees CBE FRSE, past President of
the RSC, both of whom also addressed the meeting.
Following this, prizes were awarded to pupils from schools throughout Scotland
by the RSC, the Society of Biology, the Institute of Physics and the Royal Scottish
Society of Arts.
Panel discussions were held throughout
the day as follows:
Science in Schools (pictured above, l-r)
Dr Bill Beveridge, RSC
Bristow Muldoon (panel chair), RSC & RSE
Vicki Butler, RSC
Professor Sally Brown OBE, Chair of RSE
Education Committee
MSP Question Time (pictured above, l-r)
Clare Adamson
Liz Smith
Professor Alan Alexander OBE (panel
chair), RSE General Secretary
Elaine Murray
Liam McArthur
At the last session, four scientists spoke
on different aspects of education:
Creating Wealth from Investment in
Science and Innovation
Professor John Coggins OBE FRSE,
University of Glasgow
The M in STEM
Professor Martin McCoustra,
Heriot-Watt University
Workplace-ready degree programmes
Dr Robin Westacott,
Heriot-Watt University
Science and the needs of industry
Dr Allan Colquhoun, Selex ES.
Photographs at Science and the Parliament by Gary Baker
Closing remarks were made by Dr
Matthew Brown, Head of Communications
and Campaigns, RSC and the event
concluded with an evening reception at
which delegates had further opportunity
to view the display stands of the 18
organisations represented at the event.
resource WINTER 2014
MacCormick European Lecture 2014
The annual RSE MacCormick European Lecture is named in honour of the late
Professor Sir Neil MacCormick FBA FRSE (right), in recognition of his contribution
to Scottish and European politics and his international work for the RSE.
This year’s Lecture was delivered by Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President
of the European Research Council, who was the Director of the Institut des Hautes
Etudes Scientifiques (IHES) from 1994 until 2013. He was also the first ERC Panel
Chair in Mathematics, for Starting Grants.
As well as delivering the MacCormick
lecture, Professor Bourguignon followed
a rigorous timetable throughout his
three days in Scotland (23–25 November).
Several meetings had been organised at
the RSE and Professor Bourguignon had
the opportunity to meet with researchers
and grant holders from across Scotland
and discuss various issues with them.
Professor Bourguignon met first with
young researchers and innovators
selected from the Young Academy of
Scotland, RSE postdoctoral research
fellows (with EU funding), RSE Enterprise
Fellows and members of the Scottish
Crucible, some of whom gave short
presentations, before an open discussion,
chaired by Professor Alan Miller FRSE.
Professor Bourguignon then spent time
in discussion with several ERC grant
holders in Scotland, before meeting with
representatives from Edinburgh Napier
University, Queen Margaret University,
the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee,
Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, St Andrews,
Strathclyde and the West of Scotland
and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
In addition, during his time here, he was
interviewed by Holyrood Magazine, BBC
Radio Scotland and BBC Scotland.
Professor Bourguignon delivered his public
lecture on Diversity and Interdependence
in Science and Europe, Centuries of
Enrichment and Struggle, to a full house
in the RSE Wolfson Lecture Theatre, on
the evening of 24 November. Professor
Bell Burnell introduced the evening; an
interesting question and answer session
followed the lecture.
The event was concluded with a Vote of Thanks by RSE Vice-President,
Professor Sir David Wallace (right).
A summary report of the lecture will soon appear on the RSE website at:
Please send any copy to the Editor (Jenny Liddell)
at the Society – [email protected]
ReSourcE: ISSN No 1473-7841
The Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland’s National Academy, is Scottish Charity No. SC000470
The RSE Scotland Foundation is a connected charity, registered in Scotland as Scottish Charity No. SC024636
The RSE Scotland SCIO is a connected charity, registered in Scotland as Scottish Charity No. SC043194
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