David King, U.K. Chemist and Climate Change Authority, to Speak

February 29, 2012 — David King, director of the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at the University of Oxford and chancellor of the University of Liverpool, will deliver the Marie Payne Graham Memorial Lecture at the University of Virginia on March 23 at 4 p.m. in the Physics Building, room 204.

King, a physical chemist, served at the chief scientific adviser to the British government and head of the Government Office of Science from 2000 to 2007. He is currently the senior scientific adviser to the Swiss financial services giant UBS and science adviser to the president of Rwanda.

His talk is titled, "A Scientific Analysis of 21st Century Environmental and Economic Challenges." The lecture, hosted by the Department of Chemistry in the College of Arts & Sciences, is made possible through an endowment created by Robert L. Graham, a retired professor from Minnesota State University, Mankato, in honor of his late wife, a Staunton native. They met while Robert Graham was pursuing a Ph.D. in physical chemistry at U.Va.

Earlier in the day, King will lecture to the chemistry and physics departments on "Controlled Reactivity of Solid Surfaces: A Fundamental Approach," offering an overview of surface science research being conducted at the University of Cambridge. That talk will be held at 2 p.m. in the Chemistry Building, room 204.

During his time as the U.K. government's chief scientific adviser, he raised the profile of the need for governments to act on climate change and was instrumental in creating the new Energy Technologies Institute. In 2008, he co-wrote "The Hot Topic," a book on global climate change. As director of the government's Foresight Program, he advised government on a wide range of long-term issues, from flooding to obesity. He also chaired the government's Global Science and Innovation Forum from its inception.

King was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society in 1991, honorary fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences in 1998 and honorary foreign fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002. He was knighted in 2003 for his work in science, and he received the award of Officier dans l'ordre national de la Légion d'Honneur from the French government in 2009 for his work on climate change and on negotiating the international agreement to build the world's largest technology project, the ITER fusion reactor.