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Fellows Directory

Laurence Barron

Professor Laurence Barron FRS


Elected: 2005


Laurence Barron is a chemist who has conducted pioneering research into the properties of chiral (right- or left-handed) molecules — defined as those that cannot be superimposed onto their mirror image. By extending this definition of chirality to include moving particles and processes that vary with time, he has made a fundamental theoretical contribution to the field.

Chiral molecules such as amino acids, sugars, proteins and nucleic acids play a central role in the chemistry of life, and many drug molecules are chiral. Laurence’s work on Raman optical activity — a spectroscopic technique capable of determining the three-dimensional structures of chiral molecules, which he predicted, observed and applied to problems at the forefront of chemistry and structural biology — has led to its development as a powerful analytical tool used in academic and industrial laboratories worldwide.

Since 1998, Laurence has been Gardiner Professor of Chemistry (now Emeritus) at the University of Glasgow. A member of numerous learned societies, he was awarded the prestigious Chirality Medal by the Societa Chimica Italiana in 2011.

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


Absolute enantioselection, Astrobiology, Chirality, Electric charge, Light scattering, magnetic and optical properties, Molecular physics, Natively unfolded proteins, Optical activity, Origin of life, Protein structure and behaviour, Raman optical activity, Raman spectroscopy, Vibrational optical activity