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Professor Richard Catlow awarded knighthood

12 October 2020

A portrait of Professor Sir Richard Catlow
Professor Sir Richard Catlow from the School of Chemistry joins four other candidates including Sir Patrick Vallance to receive the fellowship in 2024

Leading chemist recognised for his ‘remarkable’ contribution to scientific research

Professor Richard Catlow has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his ‘remarkable’ and ‘impactful’ contributions to scientific research.

Professor Catlow, who is a Professor of Catalytic and Computational Chemistry at the University, has been recognised for the development of methods that have become standard across the chemical sciences as well as a career-long commitment to effective leadership at university, national, and global levels.

On receiving his knighthood, Professor Catlow said: "I am very pleased to have received this honour both personally and for the recognition which it affords for the key role of science and scientific research".

Professor Catlow’s research focusses on developing and applying computer models to solid state and materials chemistry.

His work has offered insight into mechanisms of industrial catalysts in structural chemistry and mineralogy and are now routinely used across the industry.

Professor Catlow earned a BA in Chemistry from Oxford University in 1970 before securing his PhD in Chemistry from the same institution in 1973, where his work was undertaken at the UK Atomic Energy Laboratories at Harwell, Oxfordshire.

His long relationship with University College London began in 1976 when he became a University Lecturer in Chemistry, later becoming Head of the Department of Chemistry and the Dean of the Faculty and Mathematics and Physical Sciences in 2007.

He has also held positions at the Royal Institution, where he was an active participant in broadening the appeal of science to the general public, as well as the University of Keele and the Daresbury Laboratory.

Professor Catlow joined Cardiff University in 2015 where he teamed up with long-standing collaborators at the Cardiff Catalysis Institute.

In 2013, Professor Catlow co-founded the UK Catalysis Hub at Harwell, alongside the University’s Professor Graham Hutchings, which has since brought together catalytic scientists from over 40 participating institutions and industries to tackle real-world problems.

Professor Catlow was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2004 and, since 2016, has served as Foreign Secretary and Vice-President for the institution, maintaining a high profile for UK science across the world.

He has been a particularly strong supporter of capacity building in the developing world, especially sub-Saharan Africa and coordinated one of the first of the Royal Society’s programmes in South Africa, and has been involved in subsequent programmes in Ghana, Botswana and Namibia.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Riordan said: “I extend my warmest congratulations to Professor Catlow on receiving this significant honour.

“It is particularly pleasing to see Professor Catlow’s pioneering work recognised alongside his long-standing commitment to advancing scientific knowledge both here in the UK and across the world.

“Together with colleagues here at Cardiff University he has created a network of distinguished scientists and industry experts who are at the forefront of cutting-edge research in catalysis and applying this knowledge to tackle real-world problems that we face today.”

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