Queen’s Prof. John Smol and Elon Musk Elected to the Royal Society

Published on: 2018/05/10 - in Science & Tech

The newest members elected as Fellows of the Royal Society have been announced and the list features two Queen’s University alumni, including current Queen’s professor John Smol.

Along with Dr. Smol, a professor in the Department of Biology and School of Environmental Studies, the Royal Society – a Fellowship of many of the world’s most eminent scientists and the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence – is also welcoming Queen’s University alumnus Elon Musk to its ranks.

Elon Musk is the founder, CEO, and lead designer of SpaceX as well as the co-founder and CEO of electric vehicle company Tesla, Inc. and its subsidiary SolarCity. He was a student at Queen’s University for two years during the early 1990s.

Dr. John Smol is the recipient of multiple awards recognizing his research on Arctic and alpine ecosystems, water pollution, and climate change. He is the first scientist since the the Royal Society of Canada was founded in 1883 to win three individual medals: the Miroslav Romanowski Medal for environmental sciences, the Flavelle Medal for biological sciences, and the McNeil Medal for the Public Awareness of Science. Smol was also named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2013.

The Royal Society says its mission is to “recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.

“Our Fellows are key to the Royal Society’s fundamental purpose of using science for the benefit of humanity,” said Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, when announcing its newest members. “From Norwich to Melbourne to Ethiopia, this year’s newly elected Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society are testament that science is a global endeavour and excellent ideas transcend borders.”

“We also recognise the cutting edge innovation taking place across industry, with many of this year’s Fellows coming from the thriving tech industry,” Ramakrishnan continued. “For their outstanding contributions to research and innovation, both now and in the future, it gives me great pleasure to welcome the world’s best scientists into the ranks of the Royal Society.”

This week’s announcement adds fifty scientists elected as Fellows of the Royal Society and ten as new Foreign Members for their contributions to science.

Fellows are elected from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations. Elon Musk was born in South Africa, one of the original “British Commonwealth” member countries, and his mother is Canadian model, Maye Musk. Dr. John Smol was born in Montreal and is also a Queen’s alumnus, having earned a PhD from Queen’s in 1982.

Previous elected Members of the Fellowship include Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Alan Turing, and Stephen Hawking.

Read the announcement and full list of this year’s elected Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society


Elon Musk posted a brief video after signing the Royal Society’s 350 year old Charter Book.

Also read the Queen’s Gazette article about professor John Smol becoming a member of this elite institution.

Photos: Queen’s University and Wikimedia Commons