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Melville Laboratory for Polymer Synthesis

The Melville Laboratory for Polymer Synthesis provides the leading role in innovative polymer synthesis in Cambridge University. Its state-of-the-art facilities are located within the Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry. The Melville is now home to two research groups, with over 45 post-graduate and post-doctoral researchers. 

The Melville Laboratory Group Leaders teach introductory and advanced polymer chemistry courses in the Chemistry Department. These include courses for Part II, Part III, MPhil and PhD Students. Within the research facilities students work on projects for CPGS and PhD. Broader training for all members of the group is provided in the weekly seminars during termtime. All PhD students present their work annually in a public lecture


Sir Harry Melville, after whom the Laboratory was named, worked as a Colloid Chemist at Cambridge in the 1930s. He later became Professor of Polymer Science at Birmingham University, then Provost of Queen Mary College, London. He died in June 2001. The University of Cambridge has been a centre of excellence for research in the theory and properties of polymeric materials for a considerable time. However, it was recognised that there was a real need to establish a resource in polymer synthesis to manage the design and synthesis of novel polymeric materials, vital to a more detailed understanding of polymeric behaviour.

The Melville Laboratory for Polymer Synthesis was established in 1990 with Professor A. C. Griffin as Director. The Laboratory was established as a result of the initiative of some individuals with great vision - Professor Sir Sam Edwards (Cavendish Professor of Physics until 1995), Professor Alan Windle (Professor of Materials Science), Dr Alan Hulme-Lowe (3M), Dr Chris Triggs (ICI), Professor Rodney Townsend (Unilever), Dr Anil Seal (Isaac Newton Trust), and Dr Eric Howells (Wolfson Cambridge Industrial Unit).

In 1994,Professor Griffin moved to the School of Polymer, Textile and Fiber Engineering in Atlanta, and was succeeded by Professor A.B. Holmes as Director. Under his guidance, the Melville Laboratory moved to first-rate labs in the Department of Chemistry. In September 2004, Professor Holmes returned to his hometown of Melbourne as an ARC Federation Fellow at the University there, and Professor Wilhelm Huck took over the directorship. The current director is Oren A. Scherman, the Professor of Supramolecular and Polymer Chemistry in the Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry.