Schmidt Science Fellows, in partnership with the Rhodes Trust, has announced the appointment of Professor Sir Keith Burnett CBE FRS as Chair of the program’s Academic Council.
Schmidt Science Fellows aims to develop the next generation of scientific leaders by giving the world’s best aspiring scientific minds a broader perspective, the ability to transcend disciplinary boundaries, and the opportunity to make a lasting impact in society.
The program announced its inaugural class of 14 Fellows in New York City in April 2018. The first class of Schmidt Science Fellows represent 9 nationalities, and come from 12 different nominating institutions spread across 4 countries.
As Chair of the Academic Council, Sir Keith will have a key role in mentoring the Fellows, focusing on their scientific development, providing guidance and contacts, and advising on career planning. The Academic Council, the additional members of which will be selected over the coming years to include a diverse set of senior scientists from around the world, will also provide counsel to the program’s Executive Director and leadership team, helping the program expand its global reach.
Sir Keith will officially begin his part-time role in December 2018, following his recent retirement from his previous position as President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield.
Dr Megan Wheeler, Executive Director of Schmidt Science Fellows, said: “We want our Fellows to engage in ambitious, interdisciplinary research and to gain new perspectives on science, business, and society. We believe this broad training will be the key to their development as future science leaders. I am thrilled that Sir Keith, an exemplar scientist-leader, is taking up this post. I know that the Fellows will benefit from his wide range of experiences and knowledge, his deep passion for science, and his attention to the unique training needs of each individual in our program.”
Sir Keith commented: “I am delighted to have been asked to Chair the Academic Council of the Schmidt Science Fellows and to have the opportunity to mentor and help develop these exceptional young scientists from around the world. The international nature of science and those who seek understanding in areas vital to our future have always been central to my career. I have been fortunate to have worked with and taught inspiring individuals from across the globe and I am thrilled to have this opportunity to put this passion into practice once again through the Schmidt Science Fellows program.”
Professor Sir Keith Burnett CBE FRS –Biography
Professor Sir Keith Burnett became Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield in 2007, retiring from the role in September 2018. Before moving to Sheffield, he was Head of the Division of Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences at the University of Oxford. He also served as Chairman of Physics at Oxford, where he enjoyed a successful career of almost 20 years.
His academic career started in Colorado in the United States, as a research associate at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics, and he went on to become an assistant professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Colorado. Sir Keith was also a Lecturer in the Physics Department at Imperial College for four years before returning to Oxford in 1987 as a university Lecturer in Physics and Fellow of St John’s College.
Sir Keith is the current President of the UK Science Council and Chair of the Nuffield Foundation, a charity which funds research, analysis, and student programs that advance educational opportunity and social well-being across the United Kingdom. Sir Keith is also well-known as an advocate for international students and is widely published in the UK and globally on issues relating to science, innovation, the economy and global cooperation in assessing major societal challenges.
Sir Keith was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for contributions to the scientific community in 2004 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2001. He was awarded a knighthood in the 2013 New Year’s Honours list for services to science and higher education.