Tributes paid to Richard Pike

26th July 2011

IChemE ceo David Brown has paid tribute to his former Royal Society of Chemistry counterpart Richard Pike who has died this week at the age of 61.

Pike, a leading voice for science and education, stood down from the RSC in February this year. He passed away on 23 July.

Brown said: “Richard was a good friend of IChemE and the chemical engineering community. He helped to forge the strong partnership across the chemistry-based sectors that exists today and was an energetic and powerful advocate for sound science and engineering in the media and amongst policy makers. Richard was influential in raising the status of the profession and this will be his lasting legacy.”

Expansion was a key theme of Pike’s tenure. Under his five-year leadership, the RSC membership reached a record high of more than 47,500. In the same period, the RSC launched ten new journals and  opened new offices in China, India, Japan, and the US.

Pike earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Cambridge University, UK, in 1971. He gained a doctorate in 1977, also from Cambridge. He researched experimental and theoretical aspects of vapour bubble dynamics in boiling liquids, focusing on the thermal and fluid characteristics of water and organic liquids in various gravitational fields, including Earth and zero gravity.

He then worked at BP for 25 years, in both technical and commercial roles, before becoming the director general of the UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

On taking the helm of the RSC, Pike said he looked forward to “championing the vital role that the chemical sciences and those who practise them play in the future prosperity and well-being of the population, economy and environment.”

He appeared regularly in the press using his experience as a chemical engineer and former BP executive to explain the developments of the Deepwater Horizon disaster to the public. He was a leading voice for raising educational standards, while simultaneously highlighting the important role that chemical scientists play in the growth of the economy.