Strathclyde Principal elected Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal & Vice-Chancellor, University of Strathclyde

The Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, Professor Sir Jim McDonald, has been elected as a Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

Sir Jim was among 30 individuals elected as Foreign Members by the General Assembly of CAS, the highest honorary title awarded to foreign scholars and experts who have made significant contributions to the field of science and technology in China, and who hold a high academic status internationally.

Other academics elected as Foreign Members include Professor Sir Peter Bruce, Wolfson Chair at Oxford University, founder and Chief Scientist of the Faraday Institution, and Physical Secretary of The Royal Society; Professor Chennupati Jagadish, President of the Australian Academy of Sciences; and Professor Mohammed Qasim Jan, Secretary General of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences and of the Association of the Academies of Sciences Asia.

Sir Jim said: “It is a great honour to have been elected as a Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It is my belief that by working together, through international research collaboration, dialogue and mutual respect, we can tackle the biggest challenges facing our world, the most pressing of which is climate change.”

Natural sciences

Founded in 1949 in Beijing, CAS is China’s National Academy for natural sciences and is the largest research organisation in the world.

The Foreign Members programme was initiated in 1994, with the evaluation and election process for foreign academics conducted alongside the selection of China-based academics, and it takes place every two years.

Unlike the divisions within CAS, candidates for Foreign Memberships are typically members of the National Academy of Sciences or National Academy of Engineering in their respective countries. As of October 2023, there were 124 Foreign Members in the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

A three-time graduate of Strathclyde, having taken his BSc, MSc and PhD degrees in the area of electrical engineering, power systems and energy economics, Sir Jim worked in the electrical utility sector for seven years before returning to Strathclyde in 1984 as a University Grants Commission New Blood Lecturer in Electrical Engineering.

He was appointed to the Rolls-Royce Chair in Electrical Power Systems in 1993 and became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Strathclyde in March 2009.

In The Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours List in 2012, he was awarded a Knighthood for services to education, engineering and the economy. In October 2019, Sir Jim was elected President of Royal Academy of Engineering, becoming the first Scottish holder of the office.

Sir Jim is a member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology; he co-chairs, with the First Minister, the Scottish Government’s Energy Advisory Board; and he is chair of the Independent Glasgow Economic Leadership Board. He co-Chairs the Sino-UK Engineering and Technology Steering Committee with the President of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

He is a Fellow of Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Institute of Physics, the Energy Institute, an Honorary Fellow of the Irish Academy of Engineering, a Foreign Fellow of the Chinese Society for Electrical Engineering and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Glasgow. Most recently, he was inducted as an International Member of the US National Academy of Engineering.

Sir Jim currently also holds several senior non-executive business appointments on the Boards of ScottishPower, the Weir Group and the UK National Physical Laboratory. He chairs two of the pan-Scotland University Research Partnerships in Energy and Engineering.

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