Sir John Meurig Thomas (1932 – 2020)

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  • Published Date: 19 November 2020
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thumbnail image: Sir John Meurig Thomas (1932 – 2020)

Sir John Meurig Thomas, University of Cambridge and Royal Institution, London, both UK, passed away on November 13, 2020. He was a leading British chemist in the fields of heterogeneous catalysis, solid-state chemistry, materials sciences, and surface chemistry. He also authored several books on the history of science.

John Meurig Thomas
was born in Gwendraeth Valley, Carmarthenshire, Wales, UK, in 1932, studied at the University College of Wales, Swansea (later Swansea University), UK, and received his Ph.D. from Queen Mary College (later Queen Mary University of London), UK, in 1958. After working as Scientific Officer for the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, UK, from 1957 to 1958, he joined the Department of Chemistry at the University College of North Wales (later Bangor University), UK, where he became Assistant Lecturer in 1958, Lecturer in 1959, Senior Lecturer in 1964, and Reader in 1965.

In 1969, Sir John became Professor and Head of Chemistry at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK. From 1978 to 1986, he was Head of the Department of Physical Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, UK, and a Professorial Fellow at King's College, Cambridge. From 1986 to 1991, Sir John was Director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, London, UK, the holder of the Michael Faraday chair, and Director of the Davy Faraday Research Laboratory (DFRL).

After serving as Deputy Pro-Chancellor of the University of Wales, Cardiff, Wales, UK, from 1991 to 1994, Sir John returned to Cambridge and served as Master of Peterhouse, the oldest college of the university, from 1993 to 2002. From then on, he served as Honorary Professor of Materials Science at the University of Cambridge and Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the Davy Faraday Research Laboratory of the Royal Institution. He was active in research at the Davy Faraday laboratory until 2006.

In 1991, John Meurig Thomas was awarded the Knight Bachelor ("Sir") degree for "services to chemistry and the popularization of science". The mineral meurigit is named after him. Among many other honors, he received the Royal Medal for Physical Sciences from the Royal Society in 2016, the Zewail/Elsevier Gold Medal and Prize for Molecular Science in 2015, the Blaise Pascal Medal for Materials Science of the European Academy of Sciences in 2014, the Kapitza Gold Medal from the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences in 2011, the Giulio Natta Gold Medal from the Società Chimica Italiana (SCI) in 2004, the Willard Gibbs Gold Medal of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 1995, and the Davy Medal of the Royal Society, the Faraday Lectureship Prize of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1989, and several honorary doctorates. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society, UK, a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Science, the American Philosophical Society, the Swedish and Russian Academies of Sciences, and many other scientific associations.

Selected Publications

Also of Interest


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