skip to content

Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry


It is with great sadness that we announce that Professor Nicholas C. Handy FRS died on the 2nd of October 2012 after a short illness.

Nick came to St Catharine's College, Cambridge in 1960 to read for the Mathematical Tripos. He switched to theoretical chemistry to do a PhD under the supervision of Dr S. F. Boys. Upon completion of his PhD he went to Johns Hopkins University for a postdoc before returning to Cambridge in 1969. He was appointed to the academic staff in 1972, became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1990, and was promoted to Professor of Chemistry in 1991. He continued in Cambridge until his retirement in 2004. After his retirement he moved to the beautiful setting of Thornthwaite in the Lake District.

His research was in the field of quantum chemistry, particularly on fundamental understanding and calculations on small molecules. Nick's work spanned a wide area, from developing the methods for the exact solution of the Schrödinger equation, to theoretical spectroscopy and finally to his development of density functional theory in later years. His work on density functional theory, together with that of his friend John Pople, has been crucial for the acceptance of DFT by theoretical chemists and the development of DFT into a common tool for research in the molecular sciences. Nick has inspired a generation of science and scientists and his loss will be felt keenly across the globe.

Our thoughts are with his wife Carole, his sons Paul and Julian and his six grandchildren.