The Perse School

Ronald Norrish (1916)


Ronald Norrish was joint winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1967 for the study of extremely fast chemical reactions.

In his penultimate year at the school, Ronald was awarded a scholarship to begin studies at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Unfortunately, the outbreak of the First World War meant that Norrish was unable to take up this place until 1919. During the war, Norrish served with the Royal Artillery in France and spent six months as a prisoner of war in Germany.

Despite the delay in beginning his studies, Norrish graduated with a double first in Natural Sciences and was elected as a Research Fellow at Emmanuel in 1925. He was a pioneer in photochemistry and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1936 and Professor of Physical Chemistry at Cambridge in 1937.

The Second World War brought about technological advances, allowing Norrish to apply his knowledge to problems such as the suppression of gun-flash, and fire hazards to balloons. These developments assisted his work on flash photolysis, for which he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1967.

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