University awarded prestigious Regius Professorship by Her Majesty The Queen

6 June 2016

Cardiff University Main Building
Cardiff University Main Building

University’s School of Chemistry bestowed with rare honour to mark The Queen’s 90th birthday

Cardiff University’s School of Chemistry has been awarded the prestigious honour of Regius Professor to mark the 90th birthday of Her Majesty The Queen.

Announced today, 6 June, at a special ceremony in Manchester, it is the first time that Cardiff University has been awarded a Regius Professorship, and the first time that the honour has been granted to a university in Wales.

The rare privilege is recognition of the School of Chemistry’s long track record of exceptionally high-quality research and teaching and its role in driving growth and improving productivity in the UK.

The School is a world-leader in translating fundamental chemical research into a broad range of applications with significant societal impact in a range of fields, from healthcare science to water purification, climate change and defence.

A Regius Professorship is a very rare privilege – the first was awarded by King James IV in 1497, but since the reign of Queen Victoria only 14 Regius Professorships have been granted, including 12 to mark Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

Cardiff University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan, said: “The University is delighted to be awarded this exceptional honour. This is the first Regius Professorship to have been awarded to an institution in Wales and is testament to the School of Chemistry’s world-leading efforts to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing society today.

“The high-quality research that the School is engaged in brings direct benefits to the UK economy, and is central to the University’s vision of becoming an innovation university, in which fundamental research and ideas are turned into successful products, technologies, spin-outs and start-ups.

“I commend the hard work and dedication to all those in the School of Chemistry who have made this historic achievement possible.”

Professor Rudolf Allemann, a Distinguished Research Professor and Head of the School of Chemistry said: “This is fantastic news for the School of Chemistry, the University and Wales as a whole. I’m extremely proud to see the outstanding work of the School recognised with this prestigious title, furthering the School’s reputation as a world leader in a broad range of research areas.”

The title of Regius Professor will be given to Professor Graham Hutchings, the director of the Cardiff Catalysis Institute (CCI) in the School of Chemistry.

Professor Graham Hutchings

Professor Hutchings, a Fellow of the Royal Society, is one of the world’s pre-eminent authorities on catalysis – the process of making chemical reactions happen more quickly in order to make products cheaper, cleaner, safer and more sustainable.

Professor Hutchings’ landmark discovery during his time at the CCI is that gold is a remarkable catalyst for certain reactions, most notably for the production of vinyl chloride, the main ingredient of PVC. As a direct result of his pioneering research, a gold catalyst is now being manufactured by UK chemicals company Johnson Matthey at a purpose-built facility in China.

Professor Hutchings said: “I am extremely honoured to have been awarded the title of Regius Professor. The award is bestowed on the basis of academic excellence and impact, both of which we excel in at the Cardiff Catalysis Institute. Catalysis touches everything we do and provides solutions to pressing issues such as food provision, drug discovery, clean energy and global warming. I’m sure this prestigious honour will draw even more attention to the ground-breaking work we are doing to meet these challenges.”

The Regius Professorship granted to Cardiff University is one of 12 that were awarded by Her Majesty to mark her 90th birthday.

Her Majesty The Queen will be visiting Cardiff University tomorrow, 7 June, to open the new £44m Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC). Her Majesty and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh will be given a tour of the Centre, which houses a combination of neuroimaging equipment unique in Europe.