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Behind the scenes at the RAS

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RAS Fellows form a network of scientists across the UK and the world; holding them together and working day to day to support them are the RAS staff. A&G Forum will be profiling members of staff so that you can find out more about them and their roles.

The RAS staff, working at Burlington House and at home, are the people who keep the journals, meetings and wider work of the Society happening. Councillors will meet the staff, as will meeting organizers and regular visitors to Burlington House. But for a lot of Fellows, the people who get the work of the Society done are a bit of a mystery.

I'm hoping this will change thanks to a series of profiles on this website, in which some of the people working behind the scenes give a flavour of what they do. The format we're using is to outline a typical working day – not always easy when, say, a Council Meeting makes for a very different day to one spent catching up on emails or supporting teachers in their preparation for a GCSE Astronomy class. But by featuring people in different roles across the staff – in the Editorial Office, say, or on reception – I hope that you will get to know the human face of the RAS.

One of the benefits of being part of a relatively small learned society is the contact that it brings with other scientists in your field and related areas. We're all working towards the same goals – and that goes for the RAS staff, too. I'd like to end this short blog with that well-used metaphor of the swan sailing on serenely, powered by frantic paddling below the waterline. But it doesn't really hold up – the RAS does not always proceed so smoothly, and the staff may be paddling away, but they are rarely frantic. If we need to go with a bird, I'd plump for the penguin to represent the RAS. It can look a bit ungainly, but in the right circumstances, it moves like a rocket. In this flight of fancy, the RAS staff are there to push you, the Fellows, off the treacherous ice and into the water, where you can swim free? Read the profiles and find out more, while I head off to work on my metaphors. 

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