Emeritus Professor of Physical Chemistry, University of Edinburgh.
John Knox was the most distinguished Physical Chemist of his generation in Scotland. He was an international leader and expert in High Performance Chromatography and did pioneering research in both its practice and theory.
He was born in Edinburgh (October 21st, 1927) and educated at George Watsons College and the University of Edinburgh. After graduating with first class Honours in Chemistry (1949) he was awarded a Carnegie Research Studentship and went to do research at the University of Cambridge (Pembroke College) under the guidance of Professor R.G.W.Norrish (later Nobel Laureate). His Ph.D. research was on the slow combustion kinetics of propane which required quantitative analysis of the end products. This led him to design and build, together with J.H.Purnell (later Professor), a gas chromatograph and to go on to do pioneering development work. Returning to a Lectureship in Chemistry at Edinburgh (1953) he initiated new research on halogenation reactions while continuing work on combustion and the development of chromatography. His work on the slow oxidation of hydrocarbons, although initially controversial, proved to be correct and had an important impact on our understanding of combustion chemistry. He was awarded a D.Sc. (Edinburgh) in 1963 and was promoted to a Readership in 1966. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1971 and was awarded a Personal Chair in Physical Chemistry (1974). In 1984 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (London).
B2 Earth Sciences and Chemistry