Robert May, Baron May of Oxford


Robert May, Baron May of Oxford

Robert McCredie May, Baron May of Oxford, OM, AC, FRS (born Australia, 8 January 1936) has been Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government, President of the Royal Society, and a Professor at Sydney, Princeton, Oxford, and Imperial College London. He is a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford and crossbencher in the House of Lords and President Elect of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

Biography

May was educated at Sydney Boys High School and then the University of Sydney, reading Chemical Engineering and Theoretical Physics (BSc 1956) and receiving a PhD in Theoretical Physics in 1959.

Early in his career, May developed an interest in animal population dynamics and the relationship between complexity and stability in natural communities. He was able to make major advances in the field of population biology through the application of mathematical techniques. His work played a key role in the development of theoretical ecology through the 1970s and 1980s. He also applied these tools to the study of disease and to the study of biodiversity.

He was Gordon MacKay Lecturer in Applied Mathematics at Harvard University (1959-61) and returned the University of Sydney (1962) as Senior Lecturer, Reader, and Professor (1969-72) in Theoretical Physics. From 1973 until 1988 he was Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology at Princeton University, serving as Chairman of the University Research Board 1977-88. From 1988 until 1995 he held a Royal Society Research Professorship jointly at Imperial College London and the University of Oxford, where became a Fellow of Merton College and a Master of Arts. He was Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government and head of the Office of Science and Technology (1995-2000) and President of the Royal Society (2000-5).

He has held subsidiary appointments as Executive Trustee of the Nuffield Foundation, member of the Board of the United Kingdom Sports Institute, Foundation Trustee of the Gates Trust, University of Cambridge, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Natural History Museum, Trustee of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Independent Member of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Trustee of World Wildlife Fund-UK, and President of the British Ecological Society.

In 1996, May asked Ig Nobel to stop awarding prizes to British scientists because this might lead the public to treat worthwhile research less seriously (see Criticism of Ig Nobel). He was appointed Knight Bachelor in 1996, and a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1998. In 2001, on the recommendation of the House of Lords Appointments Commission, he was created a life peer. He was one of the first fifteen peers to be elevated in this way. After his initial preference for "Baron May of Woollahra" failed an objection from the Protocol Office of the Australian Prime Minister's Department, he chose the title Baron May of Oxford, of Oxford in the County of Oxfordshire [Annabel Crabb, "Good Lord, he said what?","The Sunday Age", 20 November 2005] . He was made a member of the Order of Merit in 2002.

He was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1979, an Overseas Member of the Australian Academy of Science in 1991, a Foreign Member of the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1992, and to the Academia Europaea in 1994. He has received honorary degrees from universities including Uppsala (1990), Yale (1993), Sydney (1995), Princeton (1996), and the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (2003). He has been awarded the Weldon Memorial Prize by the University of Oxford (1980), an Award by the MacArthur Foundation (1984), the Medal of the Linnean Society of London (1991), the Marsh Christian Prize (1992), the Frink Medal by the Zoological Society of London (1995), the Crafoord Prize (1996), and the Copley Medal by the Royal Society (2007).

Publications

Books

*Nowak, M.A. R.M. May. 2000. "Virus Dynamics: the Mathematical Foundations of Immunology and Virology". Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-850418-7
*Magurran, A.E. and R.M. May (eds.). 1999. "Evolution of Biological Diversity". Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-850304-0
*Lawton, J.H. and R.M. May (eds.). 1995. "Extinction Rates". Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-854829-X
*Edwards, P.J., R.M. May, N.R. Webb (eds.). 1994. "Large Scale Ecology and Conservation Biology". Blackwell Scientific Publishers. ISBN 0-86542-801-8
*Anderson, R.M. and R.M. May. 1991. "Infectious Diseases of Humans: Transmission and Control". Oxford University Press.ISBN 0-19-854040-X
*Hassell, M.P. and R.M. May (eds.). 1990. "Population Regulation and Dynamics". Cambridge University Press.
*Roughgarden, J., R.M. May and S.A. Levin. 1989. "Perspectives in Ecological Theory". Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-08508-0
*May, R.M. (ed.). 1984. "Exploitation of Marine communities : report of the Dahlem Workshop on Exploitation of Marine Communities, Berlin, April 1-6, 1984". Springer-Verlag. ISBN 3-540-15028-5
*Anderson, R.M. and R.M. May. (eds.). 1982. "Population Biology of Infectious Diseases". Springer-Verlag ISBN 0-387-11650-8
*May, R.M. (ed.). 1976 (and 1981). "Theoretical Ecology: Principles and Applications". Blackwell Scientific Publishers. ISBN 0-632-00768-0
*May, R.M. 1973. "Stability and Complexity in Model Ecosystems". Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-08125-5. (re-issued with a retrospective introduction in the Princeton Landmarks in Biology series, 2000)

tyles and Honours

* Mr Robert May (1936-1959)
* Dr Robert May (1959-1969)
* Prof. Robert May (1969-1996)
* Prof. Sir Robert May (1996-2001)
* The Lord May of Oxford (2001-)

Notes

External links

* [http://www.zoo.ox.ac.uk/staff/academics/may_r.htm Lord (Robert) May of Oxford Biography]
* [http://www.af-info.or.jp/eng/honor/hot/enr-may.html Profile of Robert May: the Recipient of the 2001 Blue Planet Prize ]
* [http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0307-03.htm Bush Accused of "Fiddling While World Burns" by Ignoring Climate Change]
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,3907246,00.html A commentary on Robert May's request to Ignobel by the Guardian]
* [http://royalsociety.org/publication.asp?year=2005&id=2181 Speech made at the end of Lord May's presidency of the Royal Society]


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