Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Jim Al-Khalili FRS

I took a day of annual leave today, not having any scheduled work duties, in order to spend the day with my two youngest children.  At playgroup this morning, as they were busy playing with a toy kitchen I checked my phone to find that my colleague in the Physics Department at the University of Surrey, Jim Al-Khalili has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society.  I am delighted for Jim.  It's very well-deserved.  

It also has a positive side-effect for our Department, in terms of prestige and of visibility at the Royal Society, as well as a providing a role model and mentor for members of the Department.  Jim is famous for his public understanding of science activities, and he is also a brilliant research academic.  His work has mainly concentrated on nuclear physics, with quantum biology being a more recent area in which he is beginning to make impact -- as evinced by the recent award of a £1m Leverhulme doctoral training centre in quantum biology to the University.  Jim is one of the two co-directors of the centre, along with Prof Johnjoe McFadden from the School of Biological Sciences. 

I should probably drop into conversation at this point that I have collaborated with Jim on both nuclear physics and quantum biology.  It made me wonder who it is that I have most joint publications with.  It turns out Jim is well up there, with 13 (my "Jindex"?), but he is beaten by my Surrey colleagues Paddy Regan and Phil Walker, and one of my PhD supervisors Michael Strayer, each of whom I share 14 publications with.  They are all trumped by my other PhD supervisor, Jirina Stone, with 15 joint publications.

Anyway.  Well done, Jim!