91 new Fellows have been elected to join the Royal Society of Edinburgh from across the arts, sciences, academia, sport, business, and public life.

Among those joining the prestigious list is Jackie Wylie, CEO of National Theatre of Scotland; Amina Shah, CEO of National Library of Scotland; award-wining author Louise Welsh; and Professor Christopher Smith, Executive Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Scotland’s National Academy, has announced its 2023 intake of Fellows, with 91 names from the world of arts, science, business, sports and academia from Scotland and beyond.

They will be joining the RSE’s current Fellowship of around 1,800 Fellows, who are recognised as being some of the greatest thinkers, researchers and practitioners working in or with Scotland today.

Among this year’s cohort is Jackie Wylie, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the National Theatre of Scotland. Prior to taking the National Theatre of Scotland role, she founded ‘Take Me Somewhere,’ a Glasgow wide international performance festival based at the Tramway. She was Artistic Director of The Arches in Glasgow from 2008–2015, where she transformed the venue into one of Europe’s most celebrated multi-arts venues.

Speaking of her Fellowship, Jackie Wylie said: “I am incredibly honoured to have been chosen as a member of Scotland’s National Academy. I am looking forward to collaborating with the other Fellows, who represent such a diverse and impressive array of disciplines; to grapple with the issues of the day, striving for positive social and cultural change in Scotland.”

Professor Sir John Ball, President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, said: “It is a great privilege to welcome our new Fellows – they represent outstanding commitment and achievement at the highest level across a diverse range of sectors. From scientific advancement that changes lives to leading business innovation recognised across the world, the RSE welcomes the best minds to harness their unique insight and make knowledge useful for the greater good.”

Amina Shah, National Librarian and Chief Executive of the National Library of Scotland has also been honoured in this year’s list. She has more than 25 years’ experience across the library and cultural sector, as well as being a visiting professor at Robert Gordon University’s School of Cultural and Creative Business.

Ms. Shah will champion libraries, education, literature and culture as a Fellow, and highlight the vital role they play in empowering individuals and communities across Scotland. She’ll bring her extensive experience in how organisations can work collaboratively and creatively to maximise their impact and reach.

Ms. Shah said: “I am both humbled and honoured to be elected as a Fellow of the RSE. I look forward to joining a stellar and diverse group of people, and working with them to champion the use of knowledge and culture in building a positive future for communities across Scotland.”

The new intake follows in the footsteps of a venerable list of Fellows, including Peter Higgs, Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Liz Lochhead, James Clerk Maxwell and James Watt, whose impact on society in Scotland, and beyond, has changed the way our nation works.  In conclusion, Sir John Ball said: 

“Harnessing our Fellows’ talents and ideas allows us to mobilise a wide range of expertise to tackle some of the most complex challenges society faces. In welcoming our new Fellows, I look forward to seeing the positive effect they will have on society in Scotland and beyond”

Other Fellows appointed from the Arts include:

  • Louise Welsh, award winning author of nine novels including The Cutting Room, The Plague Times Trilogy and The Second Cut. Louise was co-director of the Empire Café, an award-winning exploration of Scotland’s relationship with the North Atlantic slave trade, and has received numerous awards and international fellowships, including honorary doctorates from Napier University and the Open University. Ms. Welsh is also Professor of Creative Writing at University of Glasgow.

Louise Welsh said: “I am honoured to be elected a Fellow of The Royal Society of Edinburgh. The scope and quality of the knowledge and research the RSE represents is staggering. I hope to be able to work with Fellows across a range of disciplines and contribute to the furtherance of arts, education and equalities in Scotland.”

  • Professor Christopher Smith, Executive Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council is a classicist and historian and has been affiliated to the University of St Andrews since 1992. He spent eight years in Rome as Director of a major arts and research institute, the British School at Rome. He currently leads the Arts and Humanities Research Council within UKRI. Professor Smith is a champion of breaking down barriers to international research and embracing the benefits of collaboration in science and innovation.

Professor Smith said: “I am truly honoured to join the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The well-being and flourishing of our local and global communities depend on science and the deployment of knowledge, research, and innovation for public good. Scotland’s contribution to research and innovation is hugely significant and I look forward to supporting the RSE’s outstanding advice and inspiration.”