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Issue 478, 4 March 2002


Professor Anthony Johnson

Tony Johnson graduated from the University of Nottingham with a BSc in 1958 and obtained his PhD there in 1961 with a thesis on cationic polymerisation of vinyl monomers under Professor Dan Eley. Polymer chemistry has remained Tony's research area since, with periods of postdoctoral work in Canada and Sussex, before he became a senior lecturer at Lanchester Polytechnic and then the University of Bradford. At Bradford he was promoted to a personal Chair in polymer science in 1985 and he became head of the department of chemistry and chemical technology there in 1987. In 1989 he was appointed as an associate director of the Interdisciplinary Research Centre (IRC) in polymer science and technology involving the universities of Bradford, Durham and Leeds.

In April 1996, Tony moved from Bradford to Leeds as professor of polymer science and technology bringing his group to set up his IRC laboratories on the third floor of the department of chemistry, also occupying space in the 'physics barn' area. The department had not seen equipment on the scale of Tony's operation before. The barn area is dominated by an ex-industrial reaction injection moulding facility with which he investigates the rates of polymerisation as part of his research in reactive processing. On the laboratory scale, Tony's interests are in the area of polymerisation reactor studies, with particular emphasis on novel control approaches to tailoring the properties of the polymers produced. Tony's work is interdisciplinary and, although of a genuine fundamental nature, always aims to connect to industrial problems. His contributions have been recognised through many awards and prizes, including the Swinburne Award in 2000 from the Institute of Materials to 'recognise achievements of the person who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of knowledge of the science and engineering of plastics'.

During his career, Tony has won over 150 major grant or studentship awards from the research councils and industry, supervised over 80 PhD students and has typically maintained a research group of the order of 20 staff, with an annual research turnover of approximately 1 million. He is the director of two University spin-off companies, Heavydown Ltd. and Gluco, and has wide experience as an industrial consultant and expert witness.

Following his formal retirement, Tony is taking up a position of research professor in the department, with a particular remit to help develop departmental-industrial links as well as to continue his own research and commercial themes. We wish Tony and his wife, Maureen, well in the future.

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