Royal Society honours Informatics academics

[2021] The Royal Society of Edinburgh has made School of Informatics Professors Aggelos Kiayias and Chris Williams fellows of the prestigious organisation.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh
The Royal Society of Edinburgh

Aggelos and Chris are two of the 19 University of Edinburgh academics included in the latest round of new Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) fellows, joining the current roll of around 1,600 leading thinkers and practitioners from Scotland and beyond. RSE fellows are chosen for their work which has had a significant impact on the nation.

Positive impact

The 2021 cohort includes many academics who the RSE deemed to have made a positive impact during the global Covid-19 pandemic – either as a result of their academic research, through their contribution to arts or for the role they have played in communicating complex information with the public.

Those elected to the Fellowship undergo a rigorous assessment of their achievements, professional standing and the contribution they and their work make to wider society.  

The list includes many leading academics including Professor Peter Mathieson, the University’s Principal and Vice Chancellor, Professor Devi Sridhar, Chair of Global Public Health and Professor Lesley McAra, Director of the Edinburgh Futures Institute.

As Scotland’s national academy we recognise excellence across a diverse range of expertise and experience, and its effect on Scottish society. This impact is particularly clear this year in the latest cohort of new Fellows which includes scientists who are pioneering the way we approach the coronavirus; those from the arts who have provided the rich cultural experience we have all been missing, and some who have demonstrated strong leadership in guiding their organisations and communities through this extraordinary time. Through uniting these great minds from different walks of life, we can discover creative solutions to some of the most complex issues that Scotland faces. A warm welcome is extended to all of our new Fellows.

Professor Dame Anne Glover
President of The Royal Society of Edinburgh
Chris Williams headshot

Professor Chris Williams


Professor Chris Williams joined the University of Edinburgh in 1998, and has been Chair of Machine Learning since 2005. His research interests are in machine learning and computer vision, areas of Artificial Intelligence. He has worked on new models for understanding time-series and images, and for finding structure in data. The book Gaussian Processes for Machine Learning (MIT Press, 2006, co-authored with Carl Rasmussen) won the 2009 DeGroot Prize of the International Society for Bayesian Analysis.

I am honoured and delighted to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and I look forward to promoting the methods of Artificial Intelligence within the society to help advance scientific research.

Professor Chris Williams
Chair of Machine Learning
Photo of Aggelos Kiayias wearing a dark coat and grey scarf.

Professor Aggelos Kiayias


Professor Aggelos Kiayias is the Chair in Cybersecurity and Privacy and the director of the Blockchain Technology Laboratory at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests are in computer security, information security, applied cryptography, and foundations of cryptography with a particular emphasis in blockchain technologies and distributed systems, e-voting and secure multiparty protocols, as well as privacy and identity management. Professor Kiayias has received a number of distinctions and awards for his research including, an ERC fellowship (starting grant), a Marie Curie fellowship, an NSF career award, and a Fulbright fellowship.

I am truly honoured to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. It is very inspiring tobe a member of Scotland’s National Academy that includes in its ranks an astounding number of innovators and scientists who have had a deep impact on our world. I am also delighted that my area of Cyber Security and Privacy  is recognised through this fellowship and I am looking forward  to supporting the Society’s mission towards addressing the global challenges our society faces that are related tosecuring our ever expanding Information and Communications Technology infrastructure.

Professor Aggelos Kiayias
Chair in Cybersecurity and Privacy

Elected Fellows

The full list of University of Edinburgh academics announced as RSE Fellows is as follows:

Professor Helen Bond – Chair of Christian Origins and Head of the School of Divinity

Professor Holly Branigan – Professor of Psychology of Language and Cognition

Professor Michael Eddleston – Professor of Clinical Toxicology

Professor Andrew Horne – University of Edinburgh, Professor of Gynaecology and Reproductive Sciences

Professor Alison Hulme – Professor of Synthesis and Chemical Biology

Professor Alvin Jackson HonMRIA – Richard Lodge Professor of History

Professor Aggelos Kiayias – Chair in Cyber Security and Privacy

Professor Lesley McAra CBE – Chair of Penology, Assistant Principal Community Relations, Director of the Edinburgh Futures Institute

Professor Nicola McEwen – Professor of Territorial Politics and Co-Director, Centre on Constitutional Change

Professor Andrew McIntosh – Professor of Biological Psychiatry and Head of Division of Psychiatry

Professor Ross McLure – University of Edinburgh, Professor of Extragalactic Astrophysics

Professor Peter Mathieson FMedSci – Principal, University of Edinburgh

Professor Richard Mellanby – Professor of Comparative Medicine

Professor Alexander Murphy – Chair of Nuclear and Particle Astrophysics

Professor E. Elizabeth Patton – MRC Human Genetics Unit, Professor, Personal Chair of Chemical Genetics, MRC Investigator

Professor Eleanor Riley FMedSci – Professor of Immunology and Infectious Disease

Professor Devi Sridhar – University of Edinburgh, Chair in Global Public Health and Director, Global Health Governance Programme

Professor Christopher Williams – University of Edinburgh, Chair of Machine Learning

Professor James F Wilson – University of Edinburgh, Personal Chair in Human Genetics

I would like most heartily to congratulate all of our newly elected RSE Fellows. Fellowship is a mark of exceptional personal achievement. The extraordinary diversity of expertise of our new fellows nicely reflects the broad contribution that the University makes to Scotland and beyond.  I am certain that the new fellows will continue to make sterling contributions across the board, strengthening the RSE’s capacity to advance excellence across all areas. Well done indeed.

Professor Jonathan Seckl, FMedSci, FRSE
Moncrieff Arnott Professor of Molecular Medicine and Senior Vice-Principal

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