Robert May

Robert May (1936 - 2020)#

Robert McCredie May, Baron May of Oxford, OM, AC, FRS, FAA, FTSE, FRSN, HonFAIB and member of the Organismic and Evoluationary Biology section of Academia Europaea, passed away 28 April 2020.#

In his outstanding career, Professor May was Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government under Tony Blair, President of the Royal Society, and a professor at the University of Sydney and Princeton University. He held joint professorships at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London. In 1996, he was knighted for services to science. He became one of the first people's peers in the House of Lords in 2001 and was appointed by Her Majesty The Queen to the Order of Merit in 2002.



Paying tribute, the President of the Royal Society, Venki Ramakrishnan said:

«Robert May was an extraordinary man who drove great change in every domain he committed his talents to: in research as a theoretical ecologist, in politics as Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government, and as President of the Royal Society. Bob was a natural communicator and used every available avenue to share his message that science and reason should lie at the heart of society, and he did so with a fervent pursuit that resonates with those of the Society’s founding members.»


The International Balzan Foundation writes:

Robert McCredie May, the 1998 Balzan Prizewinner for Biodiversity was awarded the Prize with this motivation:

«For his seminal contributions to the mathematical analysis of biodiversity, in particular, his pioneering work on chaos theory and ecological systems, and the development of a variety of methods for estimating the total number and rates of extinction of species living on the Earth today».


European Research Councel writes:

Professor May played an important role in the launch of the European Research Council (ERC), as one of the founding members of its Scientific Council. He remained a member until 2008.

He was a distinguished scientist - a theoretical ecologist and Professor of Zoology at Oxford - and served inter alia as Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government as well as President of the Royal Society. We pay tribute to his contribution to the ERC, notably in the domain of Life Sciences, and to science as a whole.

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