The day Dr Elena Turitsyna met Prince William

Dr Elena Turitsyna (centre) waits to meet Prince William

Two of Aston’s academics, Prof Sergei Turitsyn (Royal Society Wolfson Merit Fellow) and Dr Elena Turitsyna (Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow), recently attended the Convocation of the Fellowship of the Royal Society, held on 23 June at the Royal Festival Hall, London. Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, The Princess Royal and The Duke of Kent joined around 700 Fellows of the Society and over 1000 guests at the 350th Anniversary Convocation at which Prince William was made an Honorary Fellow.

After the formal proceedings, 40 of the Royal Society’s University Research Fellows, including Elena, were selected to meet the Prince and speak to him about their research.

An excited Elena told me “We did not know in advance whether the Prince would talk to everyone or just to a couple of us, as the allocated time slot for this part of the day was 20 minutes. To my great delight the Prince talked to each of us individually, asking questions and showing interest in our research. When it was my turn to talk about my fibre lasers research I tried to explain it in a simple way. I also explained how Aston had recently demonstrated the longest fibre laser in the world. We chatted for another couple of minutes before Prince Williams checked that Aston University was in Birmingham, “where Aston Villa club is”. It turns out that he is an Aston Villa fan!

“Instead of the allocated 20 minute slot, the Prince spent more than an hour talking myself and the other Research Fellows, which I believe showed a real appreciation and respect. The whole experience was amazing and I will remember it forever.”

Convocations of the Royal Society take place only once every 50 years and the guests included Fellows, their guests, and guests of the Society, including the heads of foreign academies and other significant representatives of the international science community. 

Words by Louise Russell

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