Former Royal Society of Chemistry president Lord Lewis dies


Jack Lewis 1928-2014 © Anne-Katrin Purkiss, Wellcome Images

Lord Lewis, the former president of the Royal Society of Chemistry, has died aged 86. Lewis was known for his inorganic chemistry research, as well as his contributions to science policy in the House of Lords.

After studying chemistry at the University of London he completed a PhD in inorganic chemistry at the University of Nottingham. Lewis then went on to lecture at the University of Sheffield and Imperial College London before becoming a professor in 1961, first at the University of Manchester, then later at University College London and the University of Cambridge, where he was also the first Warden of Robinson College when it was founded in 1975.

In 1973 Lewis was elected fellow of the Royal Society, and he was awarded a knighthood in 1982. He spent several years on the Royal Society council, including a stint as vice president in 1983, and was president of the Royal Society of Chemistry from 1986 to 1988. He was named Baron of Newnham and entered the House of Lords in 1989, where he became a strong advocate for science and a leading figure in environmental policy, sitting on several select committees on science and technology, and chairing the Royal commission on environment and pollution.

Robert Parker, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: ‘Since 2008 we have awarded an annual prize in Lord Lewis’ name, for “distinctive and distinguished chemical or scientific achievements, together with significant contributions to the development of science policy”. Jack Lewis’ own contribution to the chemical sciences was certainly distinguished and he had a profound and positive influence on science policy. I am deeply saddened to hear of his death but he leaves a legacy of excellence from the lab to the Lords.’


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