International honour for Professor Anthony Watts
Professor Anthony Watts has been elected a fellow of the Biophysical Society, only the second non-US scientist to be awarded such an honour. The Fellowship recognises his significant contribution to the understanding of membrane structure and dynamics as well as his international activities in the field.
Professor Anthony Watts
In the early 90s, Professor Watts pioneered the use of solid state Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) to determine high-resolution details of membrane protein structure. The technique has grown significantly and become a major tool in structural biology. The facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, which forms part of the Oxford University Biomembrane Structure Unit which Professor Watts directs, is one of the major biological solid state NMR centres in the world.
Alongside his research pursuits, Professor Watts has also played an active role in promoting biophysics. He was the only overseas Associate Editor of The Biophysical Journal, the Biophysical Society's journal, a post which he held for 5 years. He has been Managing Editor of the European Biophysics Journal for the last 10 years, and sits on the Executive Committee for the European Biophysical Societies' Association (EBSA).
At a national level too, Professor Watts has been active in promoting the field; he has once again taken up the Chair of the British Biophysical Society, having already held this post for 5 years in the recent past. He chaired the society's 50th anniversary meeting in Cambridge in July 2010.
The US-based Biophysical Society, which has honoured Professor Watts with the award, was founded in 1959 and was the first society to be established in the field. It is now the largest in the world and has over 9500 members, with around 35% from outside the US.
"Biophysicists are pushing back barriers in biology that once seemed insurmountable - it is really an exciting time"
The field is attracting considerable interest from other disciplines. 'Biophysics is experiencing a tremendous upsurge in activity at the moment because of the new interest in biology from the chemistry and physics communities,' commented Professor Watts. 'Biophysicists are pushing back barriers in biology that once seemed insurmountable, in areas such as single molecule detection, systems biology, harnessing energy and bionanotechnology, giving us an unprecedented understanding of biology - it is really an exciting time.'
Professor Watts said that he was thrilled to have his activities in the biophysics field, spanning a total of 42 years, recognised internationally. He will be collecting the award with five other newly elected Fellows at a ceremony during the Biophysical Society's Annual Meeting in March 2011, in Baltimore, Maryland.