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Fellows Directory

John Simons

Professor John Simons FRS


Elected: 1989


John Simons has made many original contributions in photochemistry and photophysics, molecular reaction dynamics, and biomolecular spectroscopy. His principal achievements include incorporating an ultra-high-speed rotor into a crossed supersonic molecular beam system to provide a unique method for studying photochemical reaction dynamics.

He pioneered Doppler-resolved, polarised laser spectroscopy, providing a three-dimensional view of reactive molecular collisions — their stereodynamics. He also combined ultraviolet and infrared laser spectroscopy and quantum chemical computation to reveal the conformational structures and interactions of small biomolecules, especially carbohydrates and peptides, free from extraneous environmental ‘disturbance’.

John’s principal awards include the Tilden, Polanyi, Spiers and Liversidge Lectureships and the Chemical Dynamics Award of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). He received the Humphry Davy Lectureship and the Davy Medal of the Royal Society, and the George C. Pimentel Memorial Lectureship and a visiting Miller Fellowship from the University of California, Berkeley. He served on the Councils of the Royal Society and the Faraday Division of the RSC, acting as the latter’s Honorary Secretary throughout the 1980s and, subsequently, as its President.

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


Biomolecular isolation, Photochemistry, Reaction dynamics


  • Davy Medal

    For his many innovative experimental contributions to a broad area of chemical physics, including molecular reaction dynamics, molecular spectroscopy and most recently, biophysical chemistry.

  • Humphry Davy and Claude Bernard Lectures

    On 'Garder la forme? L'interaction entre les molecules d'intérêt biologique et les molecules d'eau - de ls simplicité vers la complexité'.