Professor Duncan Thorburn Burns from Queen’s University Belfast has received the prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry Anne Bennett Memorial Award for Distinguished Service.
Born in Wolverhampton and raised in Yorkshire, Professor Burns attended five primary schools in England and Scotland during the war and when he turned 14, he spent his summer holidays working as an analytical chemist in industry.
Professor Burns moved to Belfast in 1975 to take up the established Chair of Analytical Chemistry at Queen’s University and over the course of his career has published more than 460 papers and 13 books.
His career as a chemist spans over 70 years and he has held various industrial and academic posts, including Head of Department at Queen’s.
Fondly known by colleagues in the Academic Council as the “bemedalled Professor”, he has now received seven awards from the Royal Society of Chemistry and others internationally. His current work focuses on methods to ensure the public can be confident in the authenticity and freedom from adulteration of food they purchase and eat.
Professor Burns said: “I am very pleased to have won this award and for my work to have been recognised by the Royal Society of Chemistry. I have enjoyed my 70 years working as a chemist and my time at Queen’s University, in various roles. The work that takes place at Queen’s is world leading and I am pleased to have played a role in developing new research.”
The Anne Bennett Memorial Award for Distinguished Service is awarded in recognition of prolonged and dedicated service to the Analytical Division through Council, regions and representation on a variety of additional committees. Professor Burns receives £1,000 and a certificate.
Dr Robert Parker, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry said: “The chemical sciences are vital for the wellbeing of our world and chemical scientists help to change people’s lives for the better. That’s why we’re so proud to celebrate the innovation and expertise of our community through our Prizes and Awards.
“This year’s inspiring and influential winners come from a range of specialisms, backgrounds, countries and communities. Each has done their bit to advance excellence in the chemical sciences – to improve the lives of people around the world now and in the future.”
Winners are recognised for the originality and impact of their research, or for their contributions to the chemical sciences industry or chemistry education. The Awards also acknowledge the importance of teamwork across the chemical sciences, and the abilities of individuals to develop successful collaborations.
An illustrious list of 50 previous winners of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Awards have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their pioneering work, including 2016 Nobel laureates Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Fraser Stoddart and Ben Feringa.
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