Professor John Plane recognised for his outstanding contribution to science

University professor elected as a new Fellow of the Royal Society.

More than 60 exceptional scientists from around the world have been elected as Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society, including John Plane, Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry of the School of Chemistry at the University of Leeds.

The 51 new Fellows, 10 Foreign Members and one Honorary Fellow have been selected for their outstanding contributions to scientific understanding. With discoveries ranging from the first planets outside our solar system, to the creation of the world’s smallest molecular engine, new mathematical proofs and treatments for debilitating global disease. They embody the global nature of science, with representation from Sweden, Israel, Germany, Australia, Canada, UK-born scientists working in Europe and beyond, and researchers from around the world enriching Britain’s own research and innovation sector. Their ranks include six Nobel laureates, as well as internationally recognised leaders in industry and science policy. 

Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, said, “At this time of global crisis, the importance of scientific thinking, and the medicines, technologies and insights it delivers, has never been clearer. Our Fellows and Foreign Members are central to the mission of the Royal Society, to use science for the benefit of humanity. While election to the Fellowship is a recognition of exceptional individual contributions to the sciences, it is also a network of expertise that can be drawn on to address issues of societal, and global significance. This year’s Fellows and Foreign Members have helped shape the 21st century through their work at the cutting-edge of fields from human genomics, to climate science and machine learning. It gives me great pleasure to celebrate these achievements, and those yet to come, and welcome them into the ranks of the Royal Society.”

At this time of global crisis, the importance of scientific thinking, and the medicines, technologies and insights it delivers, has never been clearer. Our Fellows and Foreign Members are central to the mission of the Royal Society, to use science for the benefit of humanity.

Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society

On the announcement of the election, Professor Plane said

I am delighted to have the research done by me and my co-workers at Leeds, together with wonderful collaborators around the world, recognised in this way.

Professor John Plane

Professor Plane uses experimental and theoretical physical chemistry to investigate phenomena in environments ranging from planetary atmospheres to dust formation around stars. He has pioneered techniques for studying gas-phase reactions of metallic species, and is a world-leading expert on the chemistry of metals which ablate from cosmic dust particles in upper atmospheres. 

He has also made significant contributions to understanding the chemistry of the Earth’s lower atmosphere - in particular iodine chemistry - using a combination of observations, laboratory studies and atmospheric modelling.

Along with Professor John Plane, Oliver Phillips, Professor of Tropical Ecology of the School of Geography was also honoured for his work focussing on the extend to which tropical forests are affected by climate processes, and how they can fuel further change in future.

Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor, University of Leeds said,

Oliver Phillips and John Plane are both highly distinguished scientists in their own fields and their elections to the Fellowship of the Royal Society are richly deserved.

Sir Alan Langlands

Sir Alan continued, “They have global reputations for research excellence in two hugely important areas of scientific discovery and the whole University community congratulates them on being recognised by the oldest scientific academic in continuous existence, commited to the use of science for the benefit of humanity.”

For this year’s intake to the Royal Society, 

  • 14 of this year’s intake of Fellows (9) and Foreign Members (5) are women – this is 22.6% of the 2020 intake
  • New Fellows have been elected from institutions across the UK, (Exeter, Plymouth, Nottingham, Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh, Sussex, Belfast, London, Oxford, Cambridge), the Commonwealth (Canada, Australia) and around the world (Germany, the Netherlands, Israel, the US)
  • Six of this year’s intake (three men and three women) have received a Nobel Prize. Three in Chemistry, two in Physics, one in Medicine or Physiology

Past Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society have included Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Dorothy Hodgkin and Stephen Hawking.

You can visit the Royal Society’s website for more details and the full list of newly elected Fellows and Foreign Members.

Related information

Professor John Plane’s research group is based at the University of Leeds in the School of Chemistry. The group has varied research interests with a common aim of understanding the chemistry of planetary atmospheres. Their research spans the three branches of atmospheric chemistry: laboratory studies (kinetics and photochemistry), atmospheric measurements (in situ and remote sensing), and modelling. The research group have led and collaborated in a large number of laboratory, field and modelling UK and international research projects addressing a wide variety of atmospheric chemistry topics ranging from the troposphere to the mesosphere of the Earth’s atmosphere, the upper atmosphere of Mars and dust formation around giant red stars.