Authorised form of nameRichards; Sir; Rex Edward (1922 - 2019)
Dates1922 - 2019
Place of birthColyton, Devon, England, United Kingdom
Date of birth28/10/1922
Date of death15/07/2019
Research fieldNuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR)
Colyton grammar school; St John's College, Oxford, BA (1945), DPhil (1948)
(Science) Research on infrared spectroscopy; Fellow and Tutor in Chemistry, Lincoln College, Oxford (1947); Dr Lee's Professor of Chemistry (1964); Warden of Merton College (1969-1984); moved to the Department of Biochemistry (1969); Vice Chancellor, Oxford University (1977-1981); Chancellor, Exeter University (1982); Director, Leverhulme Trust (1984)
(Art) National Gallery Scientific Advisory Committee (1978-2007) Chairman (1991-1993); Founding member of the World Cultural Council (1981); Chairman of the British Postgraduate Medical Foundation (1986-1993); Trustee of the Tate Gallery (1982-1993) Trustee of the National Gallery (19821993); Trustee of the Henry Moore Foundation from (1989-2002) Chairman (1994-2001)
Kt 1977
Membership categoryFellow
Date of election19/03/1959
Age at election36
Royal Society activityRoyal Society roles:
Council: 1973-1975
Medals and prizes:
Davy Medal 1976; Royal Medal 1986
RelationshipsDPhil supervisor Harold Warris Thompson FRS. Doctoral supervisor of Ray Freeman FRS
General contextRex was a distinguished chemist who pioneered the early use of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to determine the molecular structure of various compounds. A leading figure in the design and development of NMR equipment, he contributed to the technique’s adoption in a wide variety of scientific disciplines.

Rex was amongst the first researchers to investigate the properties of phosphorous resonances, whose use in analysing muscle extracts served as the foundation of clinical magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Keen to pursue the potential biological applications of these new analytical techniques, Rex chaired a consortium of like-minded researchers known as the Oxford Enzyme Group from 1969 to 1984.

A former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Rex was awarded a knighthood in 1977 for services to NMR spectroscopy. Amongst his numerous other honours, he received the Royal Society’s Davy and Royal Medals for his far-sighted scientific work. Rex had been a trustee of both the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery (two stints each) and also Chairman of the Henry Moore Foundation.
NCUACS 12/5/89. Papers deposited in the Bodleian Library, Oxford
Royal Society codeNA1761
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
GLB/20/5Note from R E Richards regarding nominations to the Natural Science ClubNovember 1965
IM/003808Richards, Sir Rex Edwardnd
GLB/20/6Note from R E Richards regarding special meeting of Natural Science Club on 14 October4 October 1966
GLB/65/95/23R E Richards, Physical Chemistry Laboratory, Oxford to Brown8 October 1967
GLB/65/95/22R E Richards, Physical Chemistry Laboratory, Oxford to BrownJune 1967
GLB/65/95/20R E Richards, Physical Chemistry Laboratory, Oxford to BrownApril 1967
HWT/1/8'Notes on a double-beam infra-red recording spectrometer' by Thompson, D H Whiffen, R E Richards, OxfordJune 1945
WF/1132Grant application from the University of Oxford to the Wolfson Foundation16 June 1980
RR/71/251Referee's report by Alfred Gordon Gaydon, on a paper 'Infra-red spectra and state of aggregation. II' by Rex Edward Richards and Harold Warris Thompson1948
EC/1959/18Richards, Sir Rex Edward: certificate of election to the Royal Society
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