Lord (Martin) Rees was the President of the Royal Society from December 2005 to December 2010. He is Master of Trinity College and Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge. He is also Visiting Professor at Leicester University and Imperial College London. He was appointed Astronomer Royal in 1995, and was nominated to the House of Lords in 2005 as a cross-bench peer. He was appointed a member of the Order of Merit in 2007.
Lord Rees studied at Cambridge University and then held post-doctoral positions at Cambridge, California and Princeton before becoming a Professor at Sussex University. In 1973, he became a fellow of King's College and Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at Cambridge, a post he held for eighteen years. For ten years, he was director of Cambridge's Institute of Astronomy.
Lord Rees has worked and travelled extensively overseas. He has been a Visiting Professor at many universities including Harvard, Caltech, Berkeley, Kyoto and the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton where he is now a trustee. He was Regents Fellow of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington between 1984 and 1988 and is a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He is a member of the Academia Europaea, and honorary member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy, and a number of other foreign academies.
Lord Rees' current research deals with cosmology and astrophysics, especially gamma ray bursts, galactic nuclei, black hole formation and radiative processes (including gravitational waves) and also cosmic structure formation, especially the early generation of stars and galaxies that formed at the end of the cosmic dark ages' more than 12 billion years ago relatively shortly after the "Big Bang". He has authored or co-authored about five hundred research papers. He has lectured, broadcast and written widely on science and policy, and is the author of seven books for a general readership.
His recent awards include the Royal Society's Michael Faraday Prize and lecture for science communication (2004), and the Royal Swedish Academy's Crafoord Prize (2005). Other notable awards include the Heinemann Prize (1984), the Balzan Prize (1989), the Bower Award of the Franklin Institute (1998), the Einstein Award from the World Cultural Council (2003) and the UNESCO Neils Bohr Medal (2005).
Lord Rees was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1979 and served as a member of its Council between 1983-85 and 1993-95. He held a Royal Society Research Professorship between 1992 and 2004.