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Daniell legacy celebrated in the Department of Chemistry

The legacy of John Frederic Daniell was showcased by a series of activities in the Department of Chemistry during October and November 2019.

Professor Saiful Islam
Professor Saiful Islam

In 1831, John Frederic Daniell became the first Professor of Chemistry appointed to King’s College London. He demonstrated excellence in practical education, while continuing to be a world-class researcher. His most famous invention while at King’s was the ‘Constant Battery’ or ‘Daniell Cell’; the first battery able to provide a constant source of current.

Today, King's celebrates his work with the annual Daniell Lecture - delivered by an internationally renowned scientist and aimed at teachers and school students between the ages of 15 and 18 - and the Daniell Awards in Chemistry for student(s) deemed to have conducted the most original research in the subject.

This year Professor Saiful Islam gave a talk on 'Atomic-Scale Insights into Green Energy Materials (Batteries Included)', and attendees included a group of 10 Daniell descendants and extended family. The group met with Chemistry students, staff and King's President and Principal, Professor Ed Byrne, in front of historic university artifacts including eight original 'Daniell Cells' from 1840. The family marked the occasion by kindly bequeathing to the university an heirloom bust of Daniell, as well as four prestigious medals awarded to him.

These medals include the Royal Society Copley Medal, awarded to Daniell in 1838 for his battery research. The Copley Medal is thought to be the world's oldest scientific prize, and is awarded for outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science. Coincidentally, the inventor of the modern lithium-ion battery, Professor John Goodenough, was awarded both the Copley Medal and Nobel Prize in Chemistry in November 2019 for his battery research.

Daniell Lecture 2019
PhD students Karola Gerecht, Grant Pellowe and Magd Badaoui (l-r) with Professor Paula Booth (centre) and Professor Roger Morris (r), Department of Chemistry.

At the Faculty of Natural & Mathematical Sciences’ annual Prize-Giving ceremony in November, the legacy was once again passed to a new generation as the Daniell Award was presented to three Chemistry PhD students. Final-year students Karola Gerecht, Grant Pellowe and Magd Badaoui were recognised for performing ‘the best series of research’ in the Department of Chemistry.

In this story

Paula Booth

Paula Booth

Head of Department

Roger Morris

Roger Morris

Professor of Molecular Neurobiology


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