Upon election to the Royal Society, Fellows and Foreign Members are invited to contribute a Perspective article.
Perspectives take the form of a review that provide the reader with an overview of the subject and give a personal insight into the advances and challenges the future may hold. Perspectives can be selective in their coverage rather than an in-depth review of an area.
The following Perspective articles have been published in Proceedings B to date and are FREE to access:
Kin selection and the evolution of plant reproductive traits by Kamal Bawa
Kamal Bawa is Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and Founder-President of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), one of India’s top ranked environmental think tanks based in Bangalore. Among the many awards he has received are: Guggenheim Fellowship (1987), Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment (1992), the world’s first prize in sustainability--the Gunnerus Award in Sustainability Science from the Royal Norwegian Society of Letters and Sciences (2012), and the international MIDORI Prize in Biodiversity (2014) from the Aeon Foundation in Japan. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2015.
His perspective ‘Kin selection and the evolution of reproductive traits’ Bawa outlines a hypothesis for the possible role of kin selection in explaining the evolution of two contrasting sets of correlated traits in plants.
A bottom-up perspective on ecosystem change in Mesozoic oceans by Andrew H. Knoll and Michael J. Follows
Andrew H. Knoll is the Fisher Professor of Natural History at Harvard University, where he teaches biology and Earth Sciences. Much of Knoll’s research focuses on the Proterozoic fossil record and its environmental context, but his lab has contributed, as well, to our understanding of Cambrian animal diversification, Paleozoic plant evolution, end-Permian mass extinction, and phytoplankton evolution. For the past thirteen years, Knoll has also served on the science team for NASA’s MER mission to Mars. He was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society in 2015.
In his perspective ‘A bottom-up perspective on ecosystem change in Mesozoic oceans’ Knoll proposes a new hypothesis to further current understanding of Mezozoic marine animal evolution.
How old are bacterial pathogens? by Mark Achtman
Mark Achtman has made seminal discoveries in several distinct areas of bacterial genetics - bacterial conjugation involving the Escherichia coli F sex factor, E. coli neonatal meningitis, epidemic cerebrospinal meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitis, and in recent years has been at the forefront of comparative population genomics. He elucidated the historical associations of Helicobacter pylori with ancient human migrations, ancient global routes of transmission of historical plague, and has introduced dramatic changes to the practice of epidemiological typing of Salmonella enterica. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 2015.
In his perspective ‘How old are bacterial pathogens?’ he discusses the evolutionary history of several important bacterial pathogens infecting humans.
Genetics of complex traits: prediction of phenotype, identification of causal polymorphisms and genetic architecture by M. E. Goddard, K. E. Kemper, I. M. MacLeod, A. J. Chamberlain, B. J. Hayes
Michael Goddard is a professorial fellow in Animal Genetics at the University of Melbourne. His research is on the genetics of quantitative or complex traits in livestock and in humans. He co-proposed and developed 'genomic selection' an application of genomics to genetic improvement, which is being used world-wide in animal improvement programs and holds potential for plant and human applications. Goddard has made other major contributions to understanding the genetic basis of quantitative genetic variation, showing that common SNPs can collectively account for much of the heritability, and to inferences on population history. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2015.
In his perspective ‘Genetics of complex traits: prediction of phenotype, identification of causal polymorphisms and genetic architecture’ he and his co-authors show how the same statistical method can be used to find mutations causing variation in complex traits, to study the genetics of these traits and to predict the phenotype of individuals.
One crop breeding cycle from starvation? How can engineering crop photosynthesis for rising CO2, and temperature could be one important route to alleviation by Stephen Long
Steve’s career has been devoted to the study of photosynthesis in relation to plant productivity and in particular understanding properties underlying high production in different environments, including those forecast to result from global change. His lab has developed in silico tools to identify strategies for genetic improvement of photosynthetic efficiency under current and future conditions, and through funding from the Gates Foundation and the US Department of Energy this is now being applied in practical engineering of crops. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2013.
In his perspective ‘One crop breeding cycle from starvation? How can engineering crop photosynthesis for rising CO2, and temperature could be one important route to alleviation’ he highlights the role that modifying photosynthesis could have in the improvement of the major crops globally and adapting crop production to global change.
Economic development, climate and values: making policy by Lord Nicholas Stern
Lord Stern is I.G. Patel Professor of Economics and Government and Chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics. He is President of the British Academy (from July 2013), and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society (June 2014). From 1969 to 1993 he held academic posts at universities in the UK and abroad. He was Chief Economist at both the World Bank, 2000-2003, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 1994-1999. Lord Stern was Head of the UK Government Economic Service 2003-7. He was knighted for services to economics in 2004 and made a cross-bench life peer as Baron Stern of Brentford in 2007. His most recent book (2015) is titled “Why are We Waiting? The Logic, Urgency and Promise of Tackling Climate Change”. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014.
In his perspective, Economic development, climate and values: making policy, he discusses the key challenges of overcoming poverty and managing the risks of climate change, and how to tackle them using ideas from economic development and public policy.
Exploring macroevolution using model and fossil data by Michael Benton
Michael Benton is Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Bristol. He researches fossil reptiles of the Triassic, including the origin of the dinosaurs, and is particularly interested in the deep-time evolution of life, especially the roles of mass extinctions and adaptive radiations. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014.
In his Perspective, Exploring macroevolution using modern and fossil data, he explores how palaeontologists and biologists can work together to pick apart key events in evolution, such as the origin of birds or the origin of modern ecosystems.
The interface between genetics and psychology: lessons learnt from developmental dyslexia by Dorothy Bishop
Dorothy Bishop is a Principal Research Fellow funded by the Wellcome Trust, based at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford. She trained as a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist and has a special interest in children's communication disorders, which she has investigated from multiple perspectives: aetiology, neurobiology and psychology. As well as her academic publications, she writes a popular blog (Bishopblog) that covers a wide range of topics, including pieces that aim to enhance public understanding of science. She was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 2014.
In her perspective The interface between genetics and psychology: lessons from developmental dyslexia, Dorothy reviews family based and molecular approaches for investigating dyslexia and suggests that findings may be used to develop individualized instruction which can mitigate for a high genetic risk factor for poor reading in children.
Reflections on the development of health economics in low- and middle-income countries by Anne Mills
Anne Mills is Professor of Health Economics and Policy, and Vice Director, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her research interests centre on the development and application of health economics to guide policy on health systems in low and middle income countries. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2013.
In her Perspective, Reflections on the development of health economics in low- and middle-income countries, Anne draws on more than forty years' experience in research and policy advice to examine the growth of health economics over time in low and middle income countries, its contributions to health policy and its limitations, suggesting how health economics might be strengthened further in such countries.
How (and why) the visual control of action differs from visual perception by Mel Goodale
Mel Goodale holds the Canada Research Chair in Visual Neuroscience at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. His research interests are centred on the organisation of the human visual system, particularly within the cerebral cortex. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2013.
In his Perspective, How (and why) the visual control of action differs from visual perception, Mel reviews the evidence from both neurological patients and healthy observers that suggests that the visual processes underlying our perception of the world are in large part functionally and neurally separate from those mediating the visual control of skilled actions.
Looking beyond the hippocampus: old and new neurological targets for understanding memory disorders by John Aggleton
John Aggleton is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Cardiff University. His research explores our ability to recall and recognise the individual events that comprise our day to day lives. Of particular interest is the interplay between different brain structures thought to support these forms of memory. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2012.
In his Perspective, Looking beyond the hippocampus: old and new neurological targets for understanding memory disorders, John argues that for too long our ideas about the neural basis of memory have been disproportionately centred around one brain structure, the hippocampus.
Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided? by Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich
Paul Ehrlich is a Professor of Biology and President of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, and Adjunct Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney. His research interests are in the ecology and evolution of natural populations of butterflies, reef fishes, birds and human beings. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2012.
In his Perspective, Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided?, Paul and his co-author, Anne, review the array of interconnected problems that are moving a global civilization toward collapse and appeal for a concerted effort to reduce the scale of society and focus much more attention on agriculture and equity to improve the human prospect.
Is visual processing in the dorsal stream accessible to consciousness? by A.D.Milner
David Milner is Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience at Durham University. His research interests centre on the brain mechanisms underlying visual perception, visual attention and the visual guidance of action. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2011.
David's Perspective, Is visual processing in the dorsal stream accessible to consciousness?, looks at our current understanding of the functional anatomy of the dorsal and ventral streams and presents empirical evidence for the contention that the dorsal stream governs the visual control of movement without the intervention of visual awareness.
What conservationists need to know about farming by Andrew Balmford, Rhys Green and Ben Phalan
Andrew Balmford is Professor of Conservation Science in the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge. His main research interests are in the costs and benefits of effective conservation, quantifying the changing state of nature, identifying efficient conservation responses and exploring how conservation efforts might best be reconciled with farming. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2011.
In his Perspective, What conservationists need to know about farming, Andrew and his co-authors argue that, to limit the impact of the rapid growth in agricultural production forecast by 2050, conservationists need to become far more ambitious in tackling broad-reaching questions about future demand, about what, where and how we farm, and about identifying and incentivising methods that lower the harmful effects of agriculture on nature.