Professor Oliver Pybus, vice principal for research and innovation at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), or his outstanding contribution to excellence in science. Through his election, Professor Oliver Pybus joins an esteemed community of scientists awarded the FRS and is one of just a few RVC staff who have been awarded this honour.
The Royal Society is a self-governing fellowship comprised of eminent scientists, engineers and technologists who are elected for life through a peer review process based on their substantial contribution to science and the improvement of natural knowledge.
As an interdisciplinary biologist, Professor Oliver Pybus’ body of work has been recognised for its development of and contributions to the field of phlyodynamics, which aims to understand how evolutionary and ecological processes interact in natural populations. Throughout his career, he has developed tools for inferring population dynamics from gene sequences and showed how analysis of pathogen genomes can provide new empirical insights into virus epidemic history, transmission dynamics and molecular adaptation.
Today, Professor Oliver Pybus continues to further develop phylodynamic approaches and extend their applications to new fields. His work also provided an important contribution to the COVID-19 response, with the role of virus genomics being, in part, possible thanks to the ideas he and others developed and applied to other viruses over the preceding 20 years.
His published work on COVID-19 includes a high-profile analysis of the mass introduction of the virus into the UK via international travel and development of the COVID-19 lineage naming scheme (B.1.1.7, BA.1 etc), helping inform public health and public discourse throughout the pandemic.
In addition to his role at the RVC, Professor Oliver Pybus holds a professorship in evolution and infectious disease at the University of Oxford. He is also a Professorial Fellow of New College, Oxford, and was awarded the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London in 2009 and the Mary Lyon Medal of the Genetics Society in 2019.
Professor Oliver Pybus said: “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.”
Professor Stuart Reid, CBE, president and principal of the RVC, said: “Recognition by the Royal Society is among the very highest scientific accolades internationally and I am delighted for Oliver Pybus. He brings distinction to himself, his collaborators and his discipline and I am grateful to count him a senior colleague in the leadership team here at the Royal Veterinary College.”