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Professor Sir David A. King (Biography Archived 2011)

Director of Research

Queen's College
Contact for chemistry-related matters only:
Tel: +44 (0)1223 336338
Email: dak10 -at-

Until the end of 2007, Sir David King was Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government and Head of the Government Office for Science (GO-Science) within the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. From January 2008 he has been the Director of the Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment, at the University of Oxford. He retains his position as Director of Research in the Department of Chemistry at Cambridge University, and remains active in research into the physics and chemistry of solid surfaces.

Sir David King was appointed as the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of the Office of Science and Technology in October 2000 (now the Government Office for Science - GO-Science *). Born in South Africa in 1939, and after an early career at the University of Witwatersrand, Imperial College and the University of East Anglia, he became the Brunner Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Liverpool in 1974. In 1988, he was appointed 1920 Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Cambridge and subsequently became Master of Downing College (1995-2000), and Head of the University Chemistry Department (1993-2000).

* The Government Office for Science, headed by the Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) Sir David King was created in July 2007 within the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), reporting to the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

He was knighted in 2003, and elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society (1991) and Hon. Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering (2006) and the Royal Society of Arts and Commerce(2006) and to Foreign Fellowships of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2002) and the Third World Academy of Sciences (2000). He received the Rumford Medal of the Royal Society for his research (2002) and has been given honorary degrees by the University of Genoa (Italy), the KTU (Stockholm), the University of the Witwatersrand (S. Africa) and seven British universities. He has published over 450 papers on the chemical physics of solid surfaces and catalysis, and currently publishes about 20 research papers a year.

He founded two research centres, the Leverhulme Centre for Innovative Catalysis (1987), Liverpool, while head of chemistry at Liverpool University, and the Unilever Cambridge Centre for Molecular Informatics (1998), while head of chemistry at Cambridge. During his period as head at Cambridge a total of GBP52M was raised to improve the infrastructure of the Department from both private and public sources.

As Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK government he underwent a baptism of fire with the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 2001, playing a key role in the policy for controlling the epidemic. His major effort has been on climate change and energy research and development, but he has also been involved, in particular, in: reinvigorating the international fusion programme (ITER); creating a new developing community overseas PhD students programme for the UK, the Dorothy Hodgkin Awards; designing and implementing a new British S&T foresight programme; overseeing the quality and timeliness of science advice across the UK government; and in the provision of advice to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.

Publications in science research

Publications in science policy

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Last updated 29/5/2011 by smd37 -at-