Triple success for trio of St Andrews scientists in King’s Honours

Friday 14 June 2024

A trio of world-leading scientists who are playing pivotal roles in the fields of chemistry, energy materials and biomedical research from the University of St Andrews have had their expertise recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours issued today (Friday 14 June 2024).

St Andrews Honorary Professor of Chemistry Robert Tooze is now doubly honoured after being awarded an MBE for services to science and industry. Professor Tooze is a well-respected chemist, business leader, chemical industry expert and mentor to the next generation of researchers.

After completing a PhD in Chemistry at Imperial College London under the supervision of Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson, Professor Tooze has worked in the European chemical industry for more than 36 years in a career spanning various businesses and locations, but always rooted in research and development. He has played a vital role in the development of new world-scale technologies that have massively reduced the environmental footprint of large chemical processes whilst also offering economic benefits.

Professor Robert Tooze
Professor Robert Tooze

Professor Tooze moved to St Andrews in 2002 to establish a new European corporate research centre for a global energy and chemicals business, building a truly international group combining world-class expertise, experience and equipment. In 2017, due to a change in strategy by the parent company, the centre faced an uncertain future and the prospect of closure. To save jobs and the expertise offered by the team, Professor Tooze led the formation of Drochaid Research Services Ltd with assistance from the University. Drochaid is now a multi-million-pound global player supporting working with customers to develop sustainable products and processes. Drochaid maintains a close working relationship with the School of Chemistry at St Andrews.

Professor Tooze has simultaneously fulfilled senior unpaid roles in the public sector throughout his career; previously serving an extended term on the Scottish Science Advisory Council, the highest-level group providing scientific advice to the Scottish Government via the Chief Scientific Advisor for Scotland.

He is a past Chair of Chemical Sciences Scotland, the Industry leadership group for the multi-billion-pound chemicals Sector in Scotland, and, until recently, he was a member of the Governing Board of the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre in Glasgow. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Professor Tooze was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2014.

Since retiring in 2021 he has remained active, helping Professor Rebecca Goss from the School of Chemistry at St Andrews with the spin-out of biotech Company X-Genix, as well as acting as an advisor for Powering Futures, a social enterprise based in Falkirk that aims to engage and empower young people, primarily school pupils and apprentices, to provide solutions to the climate crisis.

Speaking of the award, Professor Tooze said: “I am honoured to receive this recognition. I have worked with many talented, interesting and dedicated people over my career, but it is my family who have been a constant source of support, advice and love, sustaining me through the bad times as well as helping me celebrate the good times such as this.”

Professor John Irvine, FRSE, MAE, from the School of Chemistry at the University, is a high-profile researcher in solid state electrochemistry and energy materials. He has been awarded a CBE for services to the green economy.

Professor Irvine has made a unique and world-leading contribution to the science of energy materials, especially fuel cell and energy conversion technologies. This research has ranged from detailed fundamental to strategic and applied science and has had major impact across academia, industry and government. Professor Irvine’s science is highly interdisciplinary extending from chemistry and materials through physics, bioenergy, geoscience, engineering, economics and policy.

Professor John Irvine
Professor John Irvine

John led the delivery of Sustainable Hydrogen Supergen and is co-director of the Supergen Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Hub. He is the Principal Investigator of the Hydrogen Accelerator H2A programme, established by Transport Scotland focusing on hydrogen powered public transport. Throughout his career John has also led large Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) projects on energy materials and emergent nanomaterials and currently leads the Faraday Institution project on sodium ion batteries. He is Editor in Chief of the highly successful open access Journal of Physics Energy. Recent awards include the Royal Society Hughes medal (2021), RSE Lord Kelvin Medal (2019) and the Schönbeim Gold Medal (2017).

Professor Terry K Smith is Director of Biomedical Sciences Research Complex (BSRC) at the University. He has been awarded an CBE for services to disease research.

Professor Smith has more than 20 years’ experience working in the field of parasitology. Using the world-class facilities at St Andrews, Smith has led a team of interdisciplinary researchers to deliver world-leading science at the interface of biology, chemistry, physics and medicine.

Professor Terry Smith
Professor Terry Smith

BSRC infection biologists’ study basic and applied aspects of infection and immunity, biophysics, molecular medicine, chemical biology, imaging and BioPhotonics, structural and cell biology, human diseases and enzymology.

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