IAS Fellow at Ustinov College, Durham University (October – December 2018)

Professor David E Williams is Professor in Electrochemistry at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, a principal investigator of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, NZ, and a serial founder of technology start-up companies. A graduate of the University of Auckland (PhD, electrochemistry, 1974), after post-doctoral work at Oxford University and Imperial College London and industry experience at IMI Titanium, Birmingham, he developed his research career in electrochemistry and chemical sensors at the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell, in the 1980s. He became Thomas Graham Professor of Chemistry at University College London in 1991 and co-founded Capteur Sensors Ltd. He was Head of the Chemistry Dept at UCL from 1999-2002 and co-founded Aeroqual Ltd . He was Chief Scientist of Inverness Medical Innovations (later renamed Alere), based at Unipath Ltd, Bedford, UK, from 2002-2006. He joined the faculty of the Chemistry Dept at Auckland University in February 2006 and co-founded Air Quality Ltd in 2013. He is a founding scientist and Director of Orbis Ltd, developing centrifugal microfluidic devices for bovine diagnostics, for use in the milking shed, and of SpotCheck Technologies, developing DNA sensors.

His research has broad scope in electrochemistry and chemical sensors. He has published extensively on electrochemistry, surface science of biomedical devices, semiconducting oxides as gas sensors, air quality instruments, and corrosion science – and is inventor on around 50 patents and patent applications. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He has been awarded the John Jeyes medal (chemistry in relation to the environment) and Geoffrey Barker medal (electrochemistry) of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Pickering medal (technology) of the Royal Society of NZ, the Maurice Wilkins award of the NZ Institute of Chemistry, the U R Evans award of the UK Institute of Corrosion and the Castner medal of the Society for Chemical Industry.

Prof Williams proposes to collaborate with Dr Kislon Voitchovsky and Dr Ritu Kataky on the study of electrochemistry at the living cell membrane-solution interface and on the development of fast, high-resolution in-situ probe microscopy systems for electrochemical studies. He will also use the opportunity provided by the Fellowship to explore with Durham scientists ideas of bioelectrochemical energy generation and storage using robust marine organisms.

He enjoys, through lectures, discussions, competition and proposal judging, enthusing young people in the challenges, opportunities and enjoyment offered by getting involved in entrepreneurial activity and would hope to participate in such activities as part of the Fellowship.