Jack Lewis was born and educated in Lancashire. He rose rapidly to become a highly renowned chemist who helped to pioneer the development of modern inorganic chemistry. He was one of the small group of scientists who led the expansion of inorganic chemistry from its renaissance, inspired by Professor Ron Nyholm in the mid 1950s, through the syntheses and study of new transition-metal and organometallic complexes. Their characterization was accomplished through the perceptive application of the newly available physical techniques of spectroscopy (electronic, vibrational and nuclear magnetic resonance), magnetism, mass spectrometry and X-ray diffraction. Jack completed his PhD at the University of Nottingham in 1952, and then held academic appointments in close succession at the University of Sheffield, Imperial College, London, and University College London (UCL) before being appointed Professor of Chemistry at the University of Manchester in early 1962. He returned to UCL as Professor of Chemistry for the period 1967–70 before being appointed the 1970 Professor of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, a position that he held until 1995, when he was granted emeritus status. His dedication to the study and furtherance of inorganic chemistry was profound and his research achievements were made all the more remarkable when one considers his substantial additional high-profile responsibilities. In 1975 Jack became the first Warden of the newly established Robinson College in Cambridge, where he shaped and guided a progressive academic community until his retirement in 2001. Furthermore, his skill as a highly effective debater also took him, in 1989, to the House of Lords, where as a Life Peer he represented science with great enthusiasm and distinction until a few months before his death. He was a most effective chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution from 1985 to 1992.
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Published by the Royal Society