University scientist awarded coveted Royal Society Research Fellowship
Dr Stuart Johnson from the Department of Biomedical Science has been awarded a coveted University Research Fellowship (URF) by the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science.
The University Research Fellowship scheme aims to provide outstanding scientists, who have the potential to become leaders in their chosen fields, the opportunity to build an independent research career. The scheme is extremely competitive and Dr Johnson is one of only 40 new fellows to be appointed by the Royal Society in 2011.
Dr Johnson’s research focuses on the cochlear inner hair cells (IHCs) of the inner ear. Their job is to convert sound vibrations into an electrical signal that can be interpreted by the brain and it is vital that the information is transmitted with high fidelity and temporal precision. One of the major causes of hearing loss is associated with a loss of IHC function.
Through his research Dr Johnson aims to find out how IHCs accurately encode sounds over wide ranges of frequency and intensity, and how the information is processed on its way to the brain. Knowledge of how the ear processes sound will inform the development of hearing aids, including cochlear implants.
Dr Johnson says, “I am delighted to have been awarded such a prestigious fellowship by the Royal Society. The long-term support provided by the Fellowship will allow me to develop my own research interest towards gaining a better understanding of how the auditory sensory hair cells communicate with the central nervous system.”
The Royal Society was founded in 1660 and is made up of the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists from the UK and the Commonwealth. The Society has three roles: a provider of independent scientific advice, a learned society and a funding agency.
There are approximately 1,450 fellows and foreign members, including more than 80 nobel laureates. Current fellows include Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking and University alumnus, Harry Kroto.