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Fellows Directory

James Maxwell

James Maxwell

Professor James Maxwell FRS


Elected: 1997


James Maxwell has made major contributions to our understanding of the geological fate of natural product organic compounds, in particular acyclic isoprenoids, porphyrins, steroids and hopanoid triterpenoids. Through the application of state-of-the-art organic chemistry, James has wrested precise and molecular information from the complex mixtures of compounds found in sediments and petroleum.

He made the first determination of the structure of a sedimentary cycloalkanoporphyrin, thereby forming a basis for the present level of understanding of the sedimentary fate of chlorophylls. He was also the first to demonstrate that acyclic isoprenoid and steroid hydrocarbons show progressive structural and configurational changes with increasing sediment burial depth.

James’s work, honoured internationally by the Treibs Medal of the Geochemical Society and election as a Geochemical Fellow, has led to the widespread application of molecular parameters of oil exploration through correlation studies and the assessment of the thermal history of sedimentary basins.

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

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


Sedimentary fate of natural product organic compounds.

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