Emeritus Professor William Bond has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society. Picture UCT
Emeritus Professor William Bond has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society. Picture UCT

UCT prof becomes seventh South African to be elected as a fellow of the Royal Society

By Staff Reporter Time of article published May 18, 2021

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Cape Town - A UCT professor has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society, the world's oldest scientific academy.

William Bond Emeritus Professor at the university’s department of Biological Sciences is the seventh South African to be awarded the honour.

The university said Bond was recognised as a global authority on open ecosystems and his research into the forces that shape global vegetation, including wildfire, CO2 levels and herbivores is credited with transforming the understanding of how these systems materialized.

Bond said his sister was the one who inspired him to become an Ecologist.

“I was inspired to become an ecologist by my older sister who read widely as a journalist and always portrayed ecology as an important field, but I only appreciated its scope and scientific fascination decades later,” he said.

He said he also looked up to other fellows from the society and specifically Charles Darwin.

Bond said Darwin had always been his hero because he was a wonderful guide to travelling the world as a biologist and such an astute observer of human society.

“Science has given us a way to test new human ideas and that is something to be treasured. Reason has been such a powerful tool for us humans, but logic alone is not the answer. In fact, science requires the imagination to make connections that lead to new discoveries and this creativity comes from all sorts of sources, including art, music, myth and poetry. I think that’s where South Africa and Africa has much to offer: our perspective is unique and valuable; it leads to new ways of seeing,” said Bond.

He said at this moment when misinformation was a real danger and the biomes that he has spent his career studying were under threat, it was a great honour to be recognised by an institution such as the Royal Society which promoted the role of science.

President of the Royal Society Sir Adrian Smith said in a statement this was his first year as president and he had been looking forward to welcoming the newly elected Fellows and Foreign members.

“The global pandemic has demonstrated the continuing importance of scientific thinking and collaboration across borders. Each Fellow and Foreign Member bring their area of scientific expertise to the Royal Society and when combined, this expertise supports the use of science for the benefit of humanity. Our new Fellows and Foreign Members are all at the forefronts of their fields from molecular genetics and cancer research to tropical open ecosystems and radar technology. It is an absolute pleasure and honour to have them join us,” said Smith.

Weekend Argus

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