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The University of Southampton

Esteemed inventor’s legacy programme inspires next generation of scientists

Published: 15 February 2019
(B&W photo) D.Desty with M.Thatcher
Distinguished scientist Denis Henry Desty with Margaret Thatcher at British Petroleum

Future scientists will follow in the distinguished footsteps of Denis Henry Desty at the University of Southampton through a new scholarship and outreach programme that has been named in his honour.

The eminent chemist and chemical engineer, who passed away in 1994, was a pioneer in the fields of chromatography and combustion science in a lengthy career after studying chemistry at Southampton in the 1940s.

The Denis Henry Desty programme will affect the lives of dozens of aspiring scientists, ranging from schoolchildren through to postgraduate research students, through a legacy gift from his late wife, Doreen.

The fund will provide 10 scholarships totalling £80,000 for prospective students on four-year MChem degrees, three scholarships totalling £33,000 for Chemistry PhD studies and invest around £10,000 in outreach activities for local schools.

Professor Gill Reid, Head of Chemistry, said: “We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to provide these scholarships, which will have real value for our students and motivate them to achieve great things whilst at Southampton and beyond. We are also very pleased to receive further support for our outreach activities, to help inspire the next generation of scientists.

“The anticipated impact of this programme is a fitting legacy to Denis Henry Desty, who achieved so much over a very successful career that was sparked in Southampton. We share his passion for discovery and to inspire and nurture the chemists of the future.”

Denis was educated at Southampton’s Taunton’s School, now Richard Taunton Sixth Form College, and studied chemistry at the University of Southampton under Professor Neil Kensington Adam, one of the country’s foremost authorities on surface chemistry.

He joined British Petroleum in 1948 and moved through a series of positions to Senior Research Associate until his retirement in 1981. A prolific inventor and Fellow of The Royal Society, he devised practical techniques for analytical hydrocarbon separations, combustion, gas-flares, the treatment of oil spills and a variety of other achievements, many of which have had widespread application. Nearly 500 patents are associated with his name.

Denis twice won the Tswett Medal for Chromatography, in 1974 and 1978, as well as the Royal Society of Chemistry Award for Combustion Chemistry in 1982. In 1978, he became a Visiting Professor at the University of Surrey, where he was later honoured through the naming of a Desty Laboratory. Between 1984 and 1986 he was also Visiting Professor in the Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology Department of Imperial College London.

The first Denis Henry Desty scholarships will be available to students entering Southampton’s School of Chemistry for the 2019/2020 academic year. Eligible students will be invited to apply once they have selected Southampton as their first choice University.

For further details on the scholarships, please visit the pages below:

Denis Henry Desty Undergraduate Scholarship

Denis Henry Desty PhD Scholarship

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