Page last updated at 07:01 GMT, Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Honour for Royal Society luminary

By James Morgan
Science reporter, BBC News

Professor Martin Taylor
Professor Taylor led a drive to boost school pupils' interest in the sciences

Mathematician Martin Taylor is among the leading scientific luminaries on the New Year Honours list.

Professor Taylor, of Manchester University, is best known as the vice president of the Royal Society.

He spearheaded Score - a group of science teachers who advised the government on how to boost school pupils' interest in the sciences.

Professor Taylor becomes a Knight, as does scientist and Wellcome Trust director Dr Mark Walport.

Professor Taylor, 56, said: "It has been quite unreal."

"I'm fed up of opening my post - I get an awful lot of bills - so when a letter dropped on the floor marked 'knighthood', I thought 'Oh my God!'

"I went into a complete flap.

He added: "Even though many of my predecessors at the Royal Society have been knighted, I was still completely shocked.

"I love doing my science and society work - in particular, the work we did on science education, with Score (Science Community Partnership Supporting Education).

"We brought science teachers together and helped them feed their ideas back to the government."

Winning formula

Professor Taylor has been a professor of pure mathematics at the University of Manchester since he moved from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1986.

His early research concerned various properties and structures of algebraic numbers.

In 1981 he proved the Frohlich Conjecture relating the symmetries of algebraic integers to the behaviour of certain analytic functions called Artin L-functions.

Robert Mulvaney
Robert Mulvaney receives the OBE for work with the British Antarctic Survey

In recent years his research has led him to study various aspects of arithmetic geometry, publishing five books and more than 70 papers in his career so far.

Professor Taylor follows in the footsteps of his Royal Society colleagues, Sir Peter Williams, treasurer and vice-president, and Lord Martin Rees, the current president, who are also knights.

"I'm delighted that Martin Taylor has received public recognition for his contributions to mathematical research and the teaching of mathematics," said Lord Rees.

"And also for his broader contributions to UK science through the Royal Society and other bodies."

Tree leaves

Professor Walport was appointed as director of the Wellcome Trust in June 2003. He heads one of the world's largest biomedical research charities, which spends some 400 million a year in pursuit of its mission to foster and promote research with the aim of improving human and animal health.

A number of other figures from science and technology are on the honours list.

New CBEs include Professor Tom Kirkwood, professor of medicine and director, Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, a leader in investigating the genetics of ageing and longevity.

Professor Lesley Glover, the chief scientific adviser to Scotland, also becomes a CBE.

Among the OBEs is 81-year-old Jean Combes. She is a phenologist - an expert in dating tree leaves - whose records are the longest made by a single person anywhere in the world.

They are proving incredibly valuable in monitoring the impact of climate change.

Glaciologist Dr Robert Mulvaney, from the British Antarctic Survey, becomes an OBE. He is one of the world's leading scientists dealing with ice cores.

MBEs include Syd Wright who, as chief technician for Insect Survey at Rothamsted Research has generated the world's most comprehensive database on terrestrial invertebrates.

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