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Aberdeen University professor welcomes new fellowship appointment

Dr Neil Vargesson FRSE in the lab at Aberdeen University.
Dr Neil Vargesson FRSE in the lab at Aberdeen University.

An Aberdeen University professor has been appointed as a fellow to one of Scotland’s most prestigious learning societies.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Scotland’s National Academy, currently has around 1,600 fellows working across various disciplines including science and technology, arts, humanities, social science, business and public service.

The society was founded in 1783 with honorary fellows from its inception including US President, Benjamin Franklin.

Aberdeen University professor Neil Vargesson FRSE says he is “gobsmacked” with new fellowship appointment.

Now, Professor Neil Vargesson FRSE, of Aberdeen University, joins this list of fellows who have been deemed to have shown excellence in their field and made a societal contribution to Scotland.

“I have been in Aberdeen since August 2007,” says Professor Vargesson, who had previously worked in London and New York as a developmental biologist.

“The Aberdeen move has been brilliant for me because all of the major findings that have come in my career have come from Aberdeen. I’ve been very lucky.”

The Aberdeen University professor will now advise government and other regulatory bodies through his work with the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Much of Professor Vargesson’s career, he tells us, has been spent trying to answer fundamental questions in the study of limb development such as why our hands, arms and legs are all made to the exact same size.

But among all of the accolades he has achieved so far in his career, the FRSE appointment is one that stands out for Professor Vargesson.

He says: “The Royal Society of Edinburgh, for me, is an honour.

“You don’t get many awards in science; it’s not like you get scientist of the year. I was genuinely gobsmacked.

“I did not expect to get in if I’m absolutely honest, I thought I was far too young, I didn’t think I had done enough.

“I was approached by other people that were fellows of the RSE and they said that I was perhaps eligible for fellowship now, and that I should consider it.

“So, I wrote a short nomination form which was put forward by an existing fellow, then I didn’t hear anything for nine months until I received an email saying that I’d been elected for fellowship.”

As well as his expertise in scientific research, Professor Vargesson’s links in public engagement will also contribute to the RSE’s ongoing work ethic as a learning society.

“The RSE advise government and regulatory bodies on issues like science and education,” says Professor Vargesson.

“I’m interested in trying to get the next generation of scientists through and encourage people to do science as opposed to other subjects.

“Now, I can help to contribute to the next generation by doing work with the RSE which is a very nice thing.

“I have to thank everybody that I’ve ever worked with because all of them have helped me to get to where I am today. It’s a major achievement for me.”


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