Lord May of Oxford

By Nuffield Foundation

We were saddened to hear of the death of Bob May, Lord May of Oxford, who was, amongst many other things, a former Trustee of the Nuffield Foundation.

Paying tribute, Chair of the Nuffield Foundation Professor Sir Keith Burnett said:

“It was a true privilege to have seen Robert May at the peak of his powers and influence. The Foundation was truly blessed to have had him as a Trustee. He contributed to the Foundation with his remarkable insights into what we should care about and how to make a real difference.”

Lord May was a renowned scientist and polymath; over the course of his career he held chairs in physics, biology and zoology on three continents. He began his career as a theoretical physicist before specialising in ecology and developing influential theories in population biology. He later turned his hand to economics and modelled the cause of the 2008 global financial crisis. Lord May served in several high-profile roles, including President of the Royal Society and Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK government. He was knighted for services to science in 1996 and was appointed to the Order of Merit in 2002.

During his time as Trustee (1993-2008), Lord May made an immense contribution to the Nuffield Foundation, the effects of which are still evident today. He was the driving force behind the inception of our original student programmes, designed to give young people skills and confidence in science and research. One of those programmes, Nuffield Research Placements remains in operation today, with almost 20,000 students benefiting since it began in 1996. His considerable expertise in science, economics and public policy, together with his social conscience and compassion, made him the perfect candidate to govern and shape the Foundation and its work. We are very grateful for his contribution and extend our condolences to his family and friends.

Obituaries of Lord May are published in The Telegraph, The Guardian, and The Times.

By Nuffield Foundation

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We improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in EducationWelfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We offer our grant-holders the freedom to frame questions and enable new thinking. Our research must stand up to rigorous academic scrutiny, but we understand that to be successful in effecting change, it also needs to be relevant to people’s experience.