Dr Alexander O’Malley wins 2021 Sir John Meurig Thomas Catalysis Medal
13 Dec 2021



The UK Catalysis Hub have named ISIS user Dr Alexander O’Malley from the University of Bath as winner of the Sir John Meurig Thomas Catalysis Medal

​Dr Alexander O'Malley collecting his prize

​Dr Alexander O'Malley collecting his prize


​Dr. Alexander O’Malley was selected from the nominations for top early-career scientists working in the United Kingdom to win the medal for 2021. 

Professor Chris Hardacre, UK Catalysis Hub Director said, “Alex has produced seminal work on the use of neutrons to investigate catalytic processes.  He has worked closely with the UK Catalysis Hub throughout his research career and his work has shown the benefits and advances that can be achieved on working closely with the central facilities. Congratulations to Alex on this well-deserved award.”

The medal honours the achievements of Sir John Meurig Thomas, a distinguished professor in the field of catalysis who sadly passed away in 2020. He was a remarkable man and one of the most eminent figures in catalytic science in the past 100 years, who was a pioneer in many of the techniques and concepts that have now become standard in the field. He was generous with his time and support for the UK Catalysis Hub and its events and the Hub is proud to have established 2016 an annual award in honour of his achievements. He will be missed by scientists in the Hub community and worldwide.

Dr. Alexander O’Malley delivered a lecture on catalysis to the UK Catalysis Hub Winter conference which took place on the 7th & 8th December. He said on winning, “It is huge honour to be awarded the JMT Medal, Sir John was a hugely important figure in a number of fields, most relevant to myself being microporous catalysis. I’ve been truly privileged to have access to such world class facilities to demonstrate what neutron based techniques can bring to this field, especially when combined with relatively simple simulations. I’m incredibly grateful to all my colleagues and everyone at the Catalysis Hub and ISIS Neutron Source for enabling the work, we’re just getting started!”

Alex’s projects in catalysis involve using a range of simulation methods paired with neutron scattering techniques such as inelastic and quasielastic neutron scattering to study how molecules behave in zeolite and zeotype catalyst materials. He’s studied systems relevant to fluid catalytic cracking, methanol-to-hydrocarbons, NOx abatement and biomass transformations. He is now applying the same techniques to problems in anticancer drug delivery and water decontamination.

Speakers for the Catalysis Hub Winter conference included members of the Catalysis Hub and wider international catalysis community. The JMT medal was generously sponsored by BP, JM, Dr. Reddy’s, Givaudan and Royal Society of Chemistry Applied Catalysis Group.

Further Information

Highlight Papers:

Alexander J. O’Malley, Stewart F. Parker  and C. Richard A. Catlow, Neutron spectroscopy as a tool in catalytic science,  Chem. Commun., 2017, 53, 12164-12176, DOI: 10.1039/C7CC05982E (Feature Article)

Alexander J. O’Malley, Stewart F. Parker, Arunabhiram Chutia, Matthew R. Farrow, Ian P. Silverwood, Victoria García-Sakai and C. Richard A. Catlow, Room temperature methoxylation in zeolites: insight into a key step of the methanol-to-hydrocarbons process, Chem. Commun., 2016, 52, 2897-2900, DOI: 10.1039/C5CC08956E (Communication) 

Website: https://researchportal.bath.ac.uk/en/persons/alexander-omalley

Contact: de Laune, Rosie (STFC,RAL,ISIS)