In memory of Former RSE President Professor Sir John Arbuthnott


Sir John Peebles Arbuthnott PPRSE FRCPSG FMedSci FRCPath has passed away at the age of 83.

A microbiologist by training and highly respected as an authority in his field, he became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde from 1991–2000. Sir John was elected as a Fellow of the RSE in 1993 and went on to become RSE President  from 2011–2014. As a prominent and influential figure in the wider higher education sector, he received a knighthood in 1998 for services to education.

The Young Academy of Scotland launched during Sir John’s presidency, with his recognition of the importance of bringing young professionals together to spark societal change being pivotal to YAS’s early success. He later enjoyed personally welcoming the Young Academy’s first 68 members at the RSE.

Sir John Ball, President of the RSE said:

“It is with great sadness that we have learned of Sir John’s death. He was hugely respected and admired both in his own discipline of microbiology, more widely in the higher education sector, and indeed across the RSE Fellowship. His launch of the Young Academy of Scotland, thriving 12 years on, forms an important part of his legacy at the RSE. He will be remembered as a dedicated and influential President and Fellow, and for his enormous contribution to education and public life. Sir John will be greatly missed, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family.”

To read more about Sir John’s time as RSE President, please visit the RSE website.