John Moyes Lessells Travel Scholarships

Funding area: International, Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine (STEMM)


These Scholarships arise from a bequest from the late Professor John Moyes Lessells, an eminent mechanical engineer who emigrated to the United States of America in 1920. The first award was made in 1985, and since that time over 100 scholarships have been awarded, to allow early career engineers based in Scotland to travel and collaborate with their fellow engineers across the globe.

These Scholarships are open to individuals who are pursuing their PhD or postdoctoral research and/or are already in employment, but wish to pursue a research project to further their Engineering career.

To be eligible for the scholarship, you must have Graduated with Honours or Higher Degree in Engineering from a Scottish Higher Education institution (HEI), or be currently pursuing PhD research in Engineering at a Scottish HEI. All branches of Engineering, including computer and software engineering are considered.

For further details on the RSE – John Moyes Lessells Travel Scholarships terms and conditions, please see below the ‘How to apply’ section.

Due to ongoing uncertainty with international travel that the John Moyes Lessells Travel Scholarships will not be offered in 2021.

Fund deadline passed

This fund is currently closed for applications.

Fund value

Scholarship value is up to £1,250 per month, pro-rata.

Fund duration

Between 2-6 months

Additional Information

Each Candidate needs to submit a completed application form along with two referee statements. This documentation is then reviewed by JM Lessells Committee, who have specialist expertise in the study and practice of Engineering.

The committee scores all applications and shortlists candidates. These selected applicants are then invited to attend an interview at the RSE, where they are expected to give a short presentation followed by a Q&A session. The Committee then decides which candidates are awarded scholarships.

This year the interviews for shortlisted applicants will be held on 22nd April 2020.


To apply, please register for an RSE account. You can download the Application Form and Application Guidance from the “Apply For Funding” area once you have logged in.

Before submitting your application, please ensure that you have read the Scholarship’s Terms and Conditions and Application Guidance.

If you have any questions about the award please look at the FAQs or contact us at [email protected]

Professor John M Lessells was a mechanical engineer who was born in Dumferline on February 5 1888 and who died in 1961. Between the period of 1895 and 1915, he attended Queen Anne School, Lauder Technical School, Heriot-Watt College, and studied for a B.S. in Engineering, University of Glasgow. After graduating, he became an Inspector of aircraft material at the British War Office, and after WWI he worked as a spl. Engineer until 1920 when he emigrated to the USA and took up a job as a Manager in the Mechanical Division at the Westinghouse Electrical & Manufacturing Company.

He worked for Westinghouse up until 1931, and during that time was closely involved in the building of the 200-inch telescope at Mount Palomar, located in North San Diego County, California, which was one of the largest telescopes in the world for 45 years. Lessells became a naturalised US Citizen in 1930, and set up his own business, Lessells & Associates. In addition to owning the company, from 1937, Lessells became Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1925 he co-authored ‘Applied Elasticity’, with Stephen Timoshenko, and in 1954 went on to write ‘Strength and Resistance of Metals’.

It was his wish to give young engineers the opportunity to widen their knowledge and experience, and he wrote a bequest through the Royal Society of Edinburgh, to enable them to travel to other parts of the world, and to bring their knowledge back to Scotland.