RMS saddened to learn of the death of Sir John Meurig Thomas Hon FRMS

Honorary Fellow was among the founders of solid-state chemistry


The RMS was saddened to learn of the death of world-renowned scientist Sir John Meurig Thomas Hon FRMS, at the age of 87.

Sir John, who received his Honorary Fellowship in 1989, was one of the founders of solid-state chemistry and made immense contributions as a scientist, educator and historian of science.

He was one of the first scientists to exploit electron microscopy as a chemical tool – especially to deduce active-site reactivities from the surface topography of many minerals and crystal hydrates.

During a stellar academic career, Sir John worked at the University of Wales, Bangor, and the University of Aberystwyth in his native Wales during the 1960s and 70s, before becoming head of Physical Chemistry at the University of Cambridge – a position he held from 1978-1986.

He served as Director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain and the Davy–Faraday Research Laboratory from 1986-1991, and was subsequently awarded a knighthood for services to chemistry and the popularisation of science.

Sir John was a prolific author of scientific articles and published several books – notably including his 1991 science history work, Michael Faraday and the Royal Institution: The Genius of Man and Place. He was also the recipient of a raft of prestigious awards and honours throughout his career.

In 2010, The RMS was especially proud to welcome Sir John as a plenary speaker at the Microscience Congress in London. Attendees at that event will no doubt recall his warmth, humour and charismatic character – qualities for which he was well known throughout the scientific and wider community.

Sir John passed away on 13 November 2020.



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