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Leading atmospheric chemist Professor John Pyle has been awarded the Royal Society Davy Medal 2018 for his “pioneering leadership in understanding the depletion of the global ozone layer... and the special vulnerability of Arctic ozone.”

Professor John Pyle, Head of the Department of Chemistry, has been awarded the Royal Society Davy Medal for 2018.

This prestigious annual award is given to exceptional researchers who make outstanding contributions to science. John receives it this year for his “pioneering leadership in understanding the depletion of the global ozone layer... and the special vulnerability of Arctic ozone.”

John, the 1920 Professor of Physical Chemistry, is an atmospheric chemist who has been involved in The Montreal Protocol – the first worldwide agreement to ban the substances responsible for destroying the ozone layer – since its inception 30 years ago.

From his earliest research work in the 1970s, John has been a pioneer in the development of numerical models to address problems related to the chemistry of the atmosphere. His research confirmed the decline of the ozone layer in the Arctic and over populated latitudes in the northern hemisphere.

It has also showed that since the Protocol was introduced, the ozone layer has started to recover. A healthier ozone layer means that by 2030, there will be some two million fewer cases of skin cancer each year.

John says: “I am very pleased and honoured to receive such a prestigious award.”

He adds: “The Montreal Protocol demonstrates that international action – supported by fundamental science and technology and by policy, backed up by appropriate funding initiatives – can successfully address a global environmental problem.”

John is Chief Scientist at the UK’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science. He is one of the four international Co-Chairs on the Scientific Assessment Panel for the Montreal Protocol and was a convening lead author of the IPCC Special report ‘Safeguarding the ozone layer and the global climate system’.

John is in very good company in being awarded the Davy Medal, which is made of bronze and is accompanied by a gift of £2,000. Previous winners have included Pierre and Marie Curie.

The medal has also been awarded over the years to a number of academics in the University of Cambridge Department of Chemistry. They include Professor Clare Grey, Professor Jeremy Sanders, Professor Sir Chris Dobson, Professor Steve Ley, Professor Sir Alan Fersht, Professor Sir John Meurig Thomas, Sir John Pople, Lord Lewis, Professor Sir Alan Battersby, Morris Sugden, Lord Porter, Harry Emeleus, Ronald Norrish, Lord Dainton (whose ScD gown John Pyle inherited) and Lord Todd.

Date awarded

19 July 2018

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Professor John Pyle outside the University of Cambridge Department of Chemistry