Two leading scientists from the University of Leicester have been photographed for the Royal Society Picture Library

Professor Ken Pounds and Professor Stan Cowley, both from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, were the subjects of portraits taken by Anne Purkiss at the University.

The two Leicester Profs join a number of other distinguished figures from the University, or who are associated with the University, in the Royal Society portrait collection. They include Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, Sir Michael Atiyah and Sir David Attenborough amongst others.

Anne Purkiss’s portrait of Sir Alec is also included in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.

Two leading scientists from the University of Leicester have been photographed for the Royal Society Picture Library

Speaking of her work, Anne said: “I am particularly interested in showing people in the context of their chosen environments since I view these pictures not only as images of eminent scientists but also as documents of our time. That includes using available or existing light and showing workspace equipment such as computers as much as the architectural spaces used by scientists.

“Having photographed politicians, artists and writers, scientists are quite different in their attitude to publicity. They seem to be much more concerned with a desire to discuss their work and the challenges ahead rather than presenting their own image.

“In a society preoccupied with celebrity culture I found photographing scientists an inspirational and rather sobering experience.”

Prof Kenneth Pounds is Emeritus Professor of physics at the University of Leicester and was a pioneer in Space Science and the new discipline of X-Ray Astronomy. His research is in the area of active galaxies, and one of his many discoveries is that black holes are common in the universe.

He was a member of the Science and Engineering Research Council; President of the Royal Astronomical Society; and was seconded as the first Chief Executive of the newly formed Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council.

Prof Pounds was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1981, and appointed a CBE in 1984. He received the RAS Gold Medal in 1991. He holds five honorary doctorates, including the rare distinction of an honorary degree from his own institution, the University of Leicester, in 2005.

Stan Cowley is Professor of Solar-Planetary Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester. He was elected to the Royal Society in 2011.

He is one of the outstanding solar system scientists of his generation. His work in space plasma physics has been seminal in understanding the fundamental physical processes involved in the magnetosphere of the Earth and other planets. He was awarded the Bartels medal of the European Geophysical Union (2003) and the Gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (2006). In particular, he has laid the foundations for understanding energy release by reconnection, with pioneering research on solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere interactions in the rapidly-rotating magnetospheres of Jupiter and Saturn, combining theoretical analysis with observations from the ground and space.

The Royal Society is the oldest learned society in the world – and the most prestigious. It was founded in 1660, receiving Royal Consent from King Charles II. The founding members included Robert Boyle (of Boyle’s Law fame), Robert Hooke and architect Christopher Wren.

There are approximately 1,600 Fellows of the Royal Society. Each year about 700 candidates are proposed but the election procedure limits the number of new fellows to 52 per annum (plus 10 foreign members). Fellowship is for life and there have been about 8,000 in total over the past 350 years.

Anne Purkiss was born in Chemnitz, Germany and graduated from Leipzig University with a degree in Journalism and Photography. She worked for an advertising agency before moving to England in 1984. After four years at the London bureau of Associated Press, she became a freelance photographer. Her commissions include regular work for government agencies, museums and galleries. Anne Purkiss’s photographs are held in a number of public collections, including the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Academy library and the archive of the Royal Society London and the National Art library. Her work has been exhibited in England, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.

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Image Credits: The Royal Society/Anne Purkiss

left) Professor Ken Pounds, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester

right) Professor Stanley Cowley, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester