NUS Distinguished Visiting Professor Anthony Cheetham has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of the UK, after being named in the Queen’s 2020 New Year Honours List as a Knight Bachelor — an honour that means he will receive the title of “Sir”.
Prof Sir Anthony was recognised for “services to material chemistry, to UK science and to global outreach”. Other than being a Distinguished Visiting Professor at NUS Materials Science and Engineering, he is also a Research Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and a Distinguished Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge.
“First, it was awarded not only for my scientific achievements, but also in recognition of my international outreach efforts, especially to developing countries. The latter has been a passion of mine for more than 25 years.”
He added, “Second, and equally important, the award recognizes the outstanding support from my wife, Janet, who now bears the title Lady Janet Cheetham.”
World-leading researcher in materials chemistry
Prof Sir Anthony is an international leader in materials chemistry with extensive experience in the translation of discovery into innovation. He is renowned for the development of procedures to study the structures of materials and to deduce the bases of their mechanical and chemical properties.
His work on novel inorganic and hybrid inorganic-organic materials has a remarkable range of applications in storing gases, in separating mixtures of gases, in magnetism and optoelectronics, and in catalysis.
In the area of hybrid materials, he has led one of the most exciting aspects of chemistry in the last twenty years, creating novel crystalline structures of great diversity in composition and properties. This has enormous potential in energy conversion and storage, renewable energy production, and as sensors and delivery materials in medicine.
Beyond the laboratory, Prof Sir Anthony has worked extensively with young scientists, encouraging talent in developing countries.
Prof Sir Anthony is actively involved in research at both UCSB and NUS, where he has spent three to four months each year since April 2016.
“I particularly enjoy spending time at NUS, with its outstanding faculty and students in the materials area,” said Prof Sir Anthony, whose publications have received more than 22,000 citations from 2009 to 2019, according to Web of Science. “It also gives me great satisfaction to know that I am part of an institution that gives high priority to materials science and is so ambitious and upwardly mobile.”
Professor Barbaros Özyilmaz, Head of NUS Materials Science and Engineering, said, “The Department is exceptionally proud of this honour for Tony. He has made a significant impact on the department and NUS, particularly as a mentor for our younger faculty members.”
The Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor was officially founded in 1908, though the honour of knighthood dates back to medieval chivalry, as does the method used to confer the knighthood — the accolade, or the touch of a sword by the sovereign. Only British people, such as Prof Sir Anthony, can be made a Knight Bachelor, but foreigners can be given an honorary knighthood.
Prof Sir Anthony joins the ranks of other renowned academics who have been knighted, such as Professor Sir Konstantin Novoselov, Nobel Laureate in Physics and Tan Chin Tuan Centennial Professor at NUS Materials Science and Engineering — the same department that Prof Sir Anthony hails from. Prof Sir Konstantin, originally from Russia but also a citizen of the UK, was named a Knight Bachelor in 2012 for “services to science”.
A host of familiar names in popular culture have also been knighted, such as legendary musicians Mick Jagger, Elton John and Paul McCartney; renowned actors Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins; and sports personalities Kenny Dalglish, Alex Ferguson and Andy Murray.