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Geoffrey Eglinton

Geoffrey Eglinton

Professor Geoffrey Eglinton FRS


Elected: 1976


Geoffrey Eglinton was a chemist whose insights into the geological fate of organic compounds made him an internationally respected biogeochemist. In addition to the significance of his research on molecular biomarkers (‘chemical fossils’), he was responsible for developing numerous experimental techniques that remain in widespread use.

One of the first researchers to illustrate the potential of coupled gas chromatography–mass spectrometry in organic geochemistry, Geoffrey also pioneered the use of infrared spectroscopy to characterise both inter- and intra-molecular hydrogen bonding. These innovative techniques improved understanding of diverse aspects of the distribution, stable isotopic content and provenance of organic compounds in the global environment.

Geoffrey’s team at the University of Bristol’s celebrated Organic Geochemistry Unit was chosen to conduct the first organic analyses of moon rocks brought to Earth in 1969 by astronauts aboard Apollo 11. He was awarded the NASA Gold Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement, as well as the Royal Society’s Royal Medal. In 2008, he also received the prestigious Dan David Prize in the field of geosciences.

Professor Geoffrey Eglinton FRS died on 11 March 2016.

Professional positions

Emeritus Professor, University of Bristol

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry, organic
  • Earth and environmental sciences
    • Geochemistry


Biomarkers, leaf waxes chemical fossils carbon 13 C4 plants palaeoenvironments, proxies


  • Dan David Prize

    In the field of geosciences.

  • Royal Medals

    In recognition of his contribution to our understanding of the way in which chemicals move from the living biosphere to the fossil geosphere, in particular the origin, genesis, maturation and migration of oil which has had great repercussions on the petroleum industry. He is one of the founders of the subject of Organic Geochemistry.

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