18 July 2016

IChemE introduces new medal honouring Professor John Davidson

John Davidson portrait
The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) has introduced a new medal to its portfolio, in honour of University of Cambridge Emeritus Professor John Davidson. ‘The Davidson Medal’ will be presented to an individual demonstrating outstanding mentorship to young chemical engineers, in academia or industry.

Davidson is the former head of the department of chemical engineering at the University of Cambridge, and former president of IChemE. His career has predominantly been in academia, 63 years of which he spent at the chemical engineering department at Cambridge University. He is also a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Davidson’s research played a pivotal role in increasing understanding of heat, momentum and mass transfer. He has been recognised not only as a founding father of fluidisation in chemical engineering, but also as a mentor who has supported and influenced the careers of several generations of chemical engineers.

The Davidson Medal was put to IChemE’s council by Professor MM Sharma, a former research student at Cambridge and a renowned Indian chemical engineer. Sharma himself is commemorated by IChemE’s MM Sharma Medal and, as a close friend of the Professor, has generously co-sponsored the production of the new award, along with the Institute of Chemical Technology Mumbai’s Dean of Student Affairs, Professor Aniruddha Pandit and University of Reading’s Professor Keshavan Niranjan.

Sharma said: “John is a life-long friend and respected peer in chemical engineering, so I am delighted to see the Davidson medal be introduced to IChemE’s portfolio. It has been an honour to sponsor the production of the award, and I hope to see some outstanding nominations following its inauguration. John has achieved many things in his life yet epitomises simplicity in every way. He is an inspiration to young engineers and it only seems right that there should be a chemical engineering award of his namesake.”

The Davidson Medal opens for nominations in August 2016, with the recipient announced in early 2017.

Davidson himself is an inspirational role model to young engineers, and students at the University of Cambridge. Although he officially retired in 1993, Davidson works in the department of chemical engineering and biotechnology almost every day, helping students, giving career advice, and reading their papers. The award will recognise the Professor’s on-going support for the next generation of engineers.

Davidson said: “I am delighted and truly honoured to see the introduction of a Davidson Medal, and I’m particularly pleased that it recognises mentors in our industry. Young chemical engineers are the future of this world and will be integral to solving global challenges - passing on your knowledge and lessons to them is of tremendous value. I would also like to thank both IChemE, MM Sharma, AB Pandit and K Niranjan for creating the medal, and look forward to seeing who will receive the Award next year'.”

Davidson was presented with IChemE’s Bird Stewart and Lightfoot Medal only a few months ago at a The John Davidson Symposium – which also marked his 90th birthday. Colleagues, friends, and family turned out to the event, held at his second home of the department of chemical engineering and biotechnology. There was also a dinner held at Trinity College.  

IChemE’s Director of Policy and Publications, and co-ordinator of the IChemE medals programme Claudia Flavell-While said:

“John has made an outstanding contribution to chemical engineering and has earned the respect of his peers and the wider community through his fluidisation research. His former students can today be found in leading roles at universities and companies around the world, and the passion he has for chemical engineering is something the Institution is thrilled to recognise with this medal.”

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IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).