Richard Catlow

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Richard Catlow, (Professor Richard Catlow) is a chemist specialising in the investigation of complex inorganic materials. Catlow is Dean of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Faculty at University College London. He is principal investigator for the Harwell research group on the UK Catalyst Hub, leading the catalyst design group. [1] The Hub opened in April 2013 to bring together “all the major players” in the field of catalysis research, with £13M funding from PSRC (Engineering and Physical Science Research Council). [2] Harwell’s website states that catalysis is both at the heart of the chemical industry and generates £50 billion for the UK economy. [1] Catlow’s group are leading research to improve catalyst design and have approximately £2.5M of current EPSRC funding. [3]

Royal Institution

Professor Catlow was previously director of the Davy Faraday Research Laboratory from 1998-2007 and Wolfson Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Royal Institution. His research group was based at the RI and departed in 2007. The departure attracted media attention with speculation from some in the science community that the RI’s focus on “public outreach” rather than research under Professor Susan Greenfield’s directorship had led to the move to UCL. Both Professors Catlow and Greenfield stated the move was amicable, with Professor Catlow indicating increased reliance on the facilities at UCL as the cause. [4]

In 2010 Professor Catlow voted in favour of retaining the existing council of the RI. A confidence vote had been initiated by supporters of Professor Greenfield following her redundancy in January of that year. He was quoted as saying “I'm sad that we had to go through this, but I'm relieved and I hope we can now put this episode behind us." [5]


The Research Complex at Harwell is based in Oxford and was set up by the government. Its creation was announced by Lord Sainsbury (who was then the science minister) in 2006 and involved £26.4 million investment from the Government. The objective was “to meet science and user requirements” by building a shared research complex for life and physical sciences. [6] Harwell has several stakeholders: including 5 of the BIS funded research councils, BBSRC (Biotechnology for the Future)[7] EPSRC, [8] MRC (Medical Research Council), NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) [9], STFC (Science and Technology Facilities Council) [10] and Diamond Light Source (a synchrotron facility jointly owned by the government (86%) and The Wellcome Trust (14%). [11]

Industry links

Professor Catlow is listed as an academic collaborator with the US company Accelrys, “a leading provider of scientific innovation lifecycle management software.” [12] In 2005 Catlow was announced as joining the scientific advisory board of a new nanotechnology consortium formed by Accelrys, which ran until 2010. The goal of the consortium was “to accelerate the development of software tools that enable the design of nanomaterials and nanodevices, as well as close the gap between scientists and engineers.” [13] The consortium brings together “world renowned experts from industry and academia.” [14]

A consortium brochure gave the following reasons for subscribing for membership:

• Ability to formally influence the direction of technology development and align these developments with your critical R&D needs • Competitive advantage and an industry leadership position in applying new computational technology • Early, exclusive, and unlimited access to new software developed by the Consortium (available to members prior to commercial availability) • Perpetual rights to all Consortium deliverables (value of which exceeds membership fee) • Access to exclusive meetings, training, and discussion workshops with world-leading scientific advisors and collaborators [15]

In 2006, the consortium had more than twenty members from “world leading commercial companies, research organizations, and academic institutions.” [15]

Science Media Centre

Professor Catlow was a member of the SMC’s Scientific Advisory Board from 2002-2012. Funding links between Catlow’s research funding and SMC funders: EPSRC, MRC, Diamond Light Source, BBSRC, STFC, NERC and The Wellcome Trust. The University College of London, his employer, is also a funder.


[16] Appointments:

  • 1976-1985 University Lecturer in Chemistry, University College London.
  • 1985-1989 Professor of Physical Chemistry, University College London. (Joint appointment with Daresbury Laboratories and University of Keele)
  • 1989-2007 Wolfson Professor of Natural Philosophy, The Royal Institution, London.
  • 1998-2007 Director of the Davy Faraday Research Laboratory, The Royal Institution, London.
  • 2002-2007 Head of Chemistry Department, University College London
  • 2007 - Dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences Faculty, University College London.

Affiliations, awards and publications


Elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society in 2004 for 'pioneering the development and application of computer modeling in solid state and materials chemistry.’ [16]

Professor Catlow sits on the advisory board of the African School of Electronic Structure Methods and Applications (ASESMA), as a member of the Royal Society. [17] ASESMA is a school which runs biannually in different African cities to teach “an introduction to the theory of electronic structure, with an emphasis on the computational methods for practical calculations.” In 2012 it was hosted at Chepkoilel University College, Eldoret, Kenya. [18]



  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry - 1990
  • Royal Society of Chemistry Medal: Solid State Chemistry - 1992
  • Fellow of the Institute of Physics - 1995
  • Honorary Member of the Materials Research Society of India - 1996
  • Royal Society of Chemistry Interdisciplinary Medal - 1998
  • Honorary Degree of the University of Havana, Cuba - 2001
  • Fellow of the Royal Society - 2004
  • Fellow of the Third World Academy of Science - 2006
  • Liversidge medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry – 2008


Professor Catlow’s research has led to 800+ publications. A full list is available on his UCL page. [19]


  1. 1.0 1.1 UK Catalyst Hub Research Complex at Harwell,accessed 26 August 2013
  2. New research hub at Harwell a catalyst for cutting-edge science Oxford Mail, 26 April 2013, accessed 1 October 2013
  3. Richard Catlow Team Members Research Complex at Harwell, accessed 26 August 2013
  4. J ShepherdTop chemistry team quits Royal Institute The Guardian, 24 April 2007, accessed 26 August 2013
  5. Ian Sample Rebels fail to oust Royal Institute board at ballot The Guardian, 13 April 2010, accessed 26 August 2013
  6. Background page Research Complex of Harwell, accessed 6 September 2013
  7. Our Organisation BBSRC, accessed 6 September 2013
  8. About us EPSRC, accessed 6 September 2013
  9. About us NERC, accessed 6 September 2013
  10. About us STFC, accessed 6 September 2013
  11. Governance and Management Diamond, accessed 6 September 2013
  12. About Accelrys Accelrys, accessed 6 September 2013
  13. Business Wire article Acceryls, 27 January 2005, accessed 26 August 2013
  14. Members and Advisors Acceryls, accessed 6 September 2013
  15. 15.0 15.1 [‎ Nantechnology Consortium Brochure] Acceryls, accessed 6 October 2013
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 [ Richard Catlow Biography] University of Arizona, accessed 26 August 2013
  17. International Advisory Panel ASESMA, accessed 26 August 2013
  18. What is ASESMA ASESMA, accessed 6 October 2013
  19. Professor Richard Catlow – Publications University College London, accessed 6 September 2013