Professor Halliday is due to take up the post at the beginning of December when Sir John Pethica FRS, the current Physical Secretary and Vice-President, steps down. Elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2000, Professor Halliday specialises in isotope geochemistry which he uses to understand the origins of planets and the present day behaviour of the Earth.
He develops and then uses new mass spectrometry techniques to measure small variations in atomic abundances of isotopes. This can help scientists understand issues as different as the age of the Moon, changes to the world’s oceans or the origins of magmas erupting in Hawaii. As Physical Secretary Professor Halliday will be one of five honorary unpaid officers who give up their time to oversee aspects of the Royal Society's work and objectives.
Along with Sir John Skehel FRS, the current Biological Secretary and Vice-President, Professor Halliday will be responsible for overseeing the Society’s scientific business. He is a former President of the Geochemical Society and of the European Association for Geochemistry and has experience with a range of top science boards and advisory panels including those of the Natural Environment Research Council, the Natural History Museum London, the Max Planck Society, the Royal Society and the American Geophysical Union. Professor Alex Halliday has been Head of the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division at Oxford University since October 2007.
Before Oxford, he spent twelve years as a professor at the University of Michigan and then six years in Switzerland, where he was Head of the Department of Earth Sciences at the ETH in Zürich. In 2004 he took up the Chair of Geochemistry at Oxford.