History of the prize
Originally the Pedler Lectureship, founded in 1927 following a bequest, this award commemorates Sir Alexander Pedler, benefactor of the Royal Society of London, the Chemical Society, the Institute of Chemistry and the British Science Guild.
Born in London in 1849, Pedler attended the City of London School and won the Pharmaceutical Society's Bell Scholarship at the age of 17. His education continued at the Royal School of Mines and then the Royal College of Chemistry in Oxford Street, with an intermittent period of employment at Perkin & Sons original aniline factory. His research at the Royal College of Chemistry, under Sir Edward Frankland, led to a publication in 1868 in the Journal of the Chemical Society. That same year he joined the Solar Eclipse Expedition, a theme that continued with his involvement in the Eclipse Expeditions of 1875 and 1893.
Pedler's lecturing career began in 1871 as a demonstrator to Frankland, subsequently becoming Professor of Chemistry in the Presidency College, Calcutta, in 1873. His great interest in meteorological phenomena continued however, and he held the position of the Bengal Government's Meteorological Reporter for 22 years. During his time in Calcutta he held the posts of Principal of the Presidency College, Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University, Minister of Public Instruction and additional Member of the Legislative Council. His research interests during this time included cobra poison and the influence of tropical sunlight on chemical change.
Pedler received a number of honours, including Fellow of the Royal Society (1892), Companion of the Indian Empire (CIE, 1901), a knighthood (1906) and Hon. Secretary of the British Science Guild. Pedler completed research as part of the war effort for the Ministry of Munitions, where he sadly died during a visit in 1918.