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Department of Chemistry

The Royal Society's prestigious Davy Medal goes this year to an atmospheric chemist who has shown "pioneering leadership" in furthering our understanding of the depletion of the ozone layer and the substances that destroy it.

The Davy Medal is given to exceptional researchers who make outstanding contributions to science. John Pyle 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 and Head of the Department of 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.

Since his early 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 has 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 include Pierre and Marie Curie.

Deputy Heads of Department Nick Bampos and James Keeler said: "The list of recipients is a veritable Who's Who of distinguished chemists and includes many from our own department."  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.

Nick and James said: "We hope that you will join us in congratulating John on the award of this prestigious medal, which is a fitting recognition of his outstanding contributions."