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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

IChemE introduces new medal honouring Professor John Davidson

The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) has introduced a new medal to its portfolio, in honour of Emeritus Professor John Davidson.

'The Davidson Medal' will be presented to an individual demonstrating outstanding mentorship to young chemical engineers, in academia or industry. The Medal opens for nominations in August 2016, with the recipient announced in early 2017.

Prof John Davidson is a well-respected member of this department who has worked at the University of Cambridge since 1952.

Prof John Davidson and Sir David Harrison on the 50th anniversary of their pioneering bookHis work on the motion of gas bubbles in liquids developed into pioneering work on fluidization, and his book with Sir David Harrison entitled 'Fluidised Particles' (1963) means he is now regarded as the founding father of fluidization in Chemical Engineering.

John Davidson was Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering from 1975 to 1993, when he nominally retired and he was president of IChemE from 1970-71. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. He is also a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

John Davidson is an inspirational role model to young engineers and students at the University of Cambridge. Although he officially retired in 1993 and celebrated his 90th birthday this year, he still bicycles to work here in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology almost every day, advising on research, attending seminars, helping students and giving career advice. The award will recognise John's ongoing support for the next generation of engineers.

Prof M M SharmaThe Davidson Medal was put to IChemE's council by Prof MM Sharma, a former research student at Cambridge and a renowned Indian chemical engineer known for his pioneering work on energy and CO2 absorption. Sharma himself is commemorated by IChemE’s MM Sharma Medal and, as a close friend of the Professor, has generously co-sponsored the production of the new award, along with the Institute of Chemical Technology Mumbai’s Dean of Student Affairs, Professor Aniruddha Pandit and University of Reading’s Professor Keshavan Niranjan.

Prof Sharma said: "John is a life-long friend and respected peer in chemical engineering, so I am delighted to see the Davidson medal introduced to IChemE’s portfolio. It has been an honour to sponsor the production of the award, and I hope to see some outstanding nominations following its inauguration. John has achieved many things in his life yet epitomises simplicity in every way. He is an inspiration to young engineers and it only seems right that there should be a chemical engineering award in his name."

Prof Davidson said: "I am delighted and truly honoured to see the introduction of a Davidson Medal, and I’m particularly pleased that it recognises mentors in our industry. Young chemical engineers are the future of this world and will be integral to solving global challenges - passing on your knowledge and lessons to them is of tremendous value. I would also like to thank both IChemE and MM Sharma, AB Pandit & K Niranjan for creating the medal, and look forward to seeing who will receive the Award next year."

Prof Davidson and Claudia Flavell-WhileJohn Davidson was presented with IChemE’s Bird Stewart and Lightfoot Medal only a few months ago at The John Davidson Symposium – which also marked his 90th birthday. Colleagues, friends and family turned out to the event held at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology. There was also a dinner at Trinity College.

IChemE’s Director of Policy and Publications, and co-ordinator of the IChemE medals programme Claudia Flavell-While said: "John has made an outstanding contribution to chemical engineering and has earned the respect of his peers and the wider community through his fluidisation research. His former students can today be found in leading roles at universities and companies around the world, and the passion he has for chemical engineering is something the Institution is thrilled to recognise with this medal."

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