Professors Ben Sheldon and Oliver Pybus elected as Fellows of the Royal Society

We are thrilled to hear that Oliver Pybus, professor of evolution and infectious disease, and Ben Sheldon, professor of ornithology, have today been elected as Fellows of the Royal Society.

Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, said:

"It is an honour to welcome so many outstanding researchers from around the world into the Fellowship of the Royal Society. Through their careers so far, these researchers have helped further our understanding of human disease, biodiversity loss and the origins of the universe. I am also pleased to see so many new Fellows working in areas likely to have a transformative impact on our society over this century, from new materials and energy technologies to synthetic biology and artificial intelligence. I look forward to seeing what great things they will achieve in the years ahead."

Professor Ben Sheldon FRS  

Ben Sheldon

Ben Sheldon's research using long-term studies of wild bird populations has provided unique insights into how natural populations respond to environmental challenges, such as climate change. He has led the field in using new techniques such as network theory, together with molecular and quantitative genetics, to determine why natural and sexual selection can act antagonistically, why evolution is rapid even in mobile species, and how novel behaviours can spread across and establish in wild populations. His work has demonstrated the power of integrating approaches from ecology, evolution, animal behaviour and computational analysis for understanding organisms in their environments.

He obtained his PhD at the University of Sheffield, held a succession of postdoctoral fellowships at Uppsala University and Edinburgh University, before moving to Oxford as a Royal Society University Research Fellow. He was elected as the inaugural holder of the Luc Hoffmann Chair in Field Ornithology in 2004, and is Director of the Edward Grey Institute in the Department of Zoology. He has been awarded the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society, the E O Wilson award of the American Society of Naturalists and the Linnean Medal.

“It is a huge surprise and honour to be elected to the Royal Society. I’ve been lucky to have spent my whole research career working with supportive mentors, excellent colleagues, and brilliant postdocs and graduate students, and this success is really a reflection of their collective support and endeavours.”

Professor Oliver Pybus FRS

Oliver Pybus

Oliver Pybus is an evolutionary biologist who is internationally renowned for his leadership in the field of phylodynamics. He invented key tools for inferring population dynamics from gene sequences and demonstrated first that important epidemiological parameters can be estimated from pathogen genomes. He continues to develop phylodynamic theory and has extended its application to immunology, cell biology and ecology. He has led large, international collaborations that use genetic data to reveal the transmission of past and current epidemics. His studies have repeatedly provided conceptual and empirical insights into pathogen dynamics that were unavailable from the analysis of traditional epidemiological data.

He completed his DPhil at the University of Oxford in 2000 after obtaining a BSc in genetics from the University of Nottingham. As well professor of evolution and infectious disease at Oxford, he is professor of infectious disease at the Royal Veterinary College. He also co-directs the Oxford Martin School Program for Pandemic Genomics. He has been awarded Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London, the Daiwa Adrian Prize, and the Mary Lyon Medal of the Genetics Society.

“It is a great honour to be elected a Royal Society Fellow, and humbling to join scientists past and present who inspired and influenced me as a student. I hope to use my position to better support and mentor the researchers of the future. Modern science is a team effort and I am deeply grateful to my collaborators and colleagues, without whom my work would not have been possible.”