James Feast
William James "Jim" Feast CBE
CBE and C.B.E. are abbreviations for "Commander of the Order of the British Empire", a grade in the Order of the British Empire.Other uses include:* Chemical and Biochemical Engineering...

Royal Society of Chemistry
The Royal Society of Chemistry is a learned society in the United Kingdom with the goal of "advancing the chemical sciences." It was formed in 1980 from the merger of the Chemical Society, the Royal Institute of Chemistry, the Faraday Society and the Society for Analytical Chemistry with a new...

 (born 25 June 1938) is a British chemical scientist and academic.

Early life

Feast was born in Birmingham to a school teacher and housewife, and was educated at the King Edward VI School
King Edward VI School (Lichfield)
King Edward VI School, Lichfield is a co-educational comprehensive school near the heart of the city of Lichfield, Staffordshire, England. The school is a co-educational comprehensive school maintained by Staffordshire Education Authority and admits pupils from the age of 11 , with some 60%...

 in Lichfield, studying humanities but being redirected to scientific studies due to his 'inclination to sit and dream', which led to him calling himself an 'accidental chemist'. He initially planned to study mathematics at university, but changed his mind after an interview with Rudolf Peirls at the University of Birmingham, and enrolled at the University of Sheffield
University of Sheffield
The University of Sheffield is a research university based in the city of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England. It is one of the original 'red brick' universities and is a member of the Russell Group of leading research intensive universities...

 to study chemistry, graduating with a Bsc in 1960. After graduation he began to study for a PhD at the University of Birmingham
University of Birmingham
The University of Birmingham is a British Redbrick university located in the city of Birmingham, England. It received its royal charter in 1900 as a successor to Birmingham Medical School and Mason Science College . Birmingham was the first Redbrick university to gain a charter and thus...

 in organo-fluorine chemistry, which he completed in 1963, staying until 1965 for the purpose of post-doctoral research. In 1965 he became a lecturer at Durham University
Durham University
The University of Durham, commonly known as Durham University, is a university in Durham, England. It was founded by Act of Parliament in 1832 and granted a Royal Charter in 1837...

, specifically Van Mildert College
Van Mildert College
Van Mildert College, commonly known as Mildert, is a college of the University of Durham in England. Founded in 1965, it takes its name from William Van Mildert, Prince-Bishop of Durham from 1826 to 1836 and a leading figure in the University's 1832 foundation.Van Mildert College occupies grounds...

, where he stayed for over 35 years until his 2003 retirement. In 1967 he married his first wife Jenneke, with whom he has two daughters, Saskia and Marieke.

Research and academic work

Despite his PhD in organo-fluorine chemistry he switched focus by 1970 to look more at polymer chemistry, specifically polymer synthesis after he had experimented with fluorinated diene monomers and 'found it fascinating that you could take a mobile, colourless fluid and produce a material that had potentially interesting properties.' He helped develop what is now known as the "Durham precursor route" to manufacturing polyacetylene
Polyacetylene is an organic polymer with the repeat unit n. The high electrical conductivity discovered for these polymers beginning in the 1960's accelerated interest in the use of organic compounds in microelectronics...

, and during the 70s and 80s the polymer synthesis knowledge of Feast and his group led to invitations to work as a guest lecturer, and eventually he spent two months a year teaching at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research
Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research
The Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research is a scientific research institute located in Mainz, Germany. It concentrates on foundational research on macromolecular materials. The institute was founded in 1983...

 in Mainz
Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

. During his time at Durham Feast was promoted up the academic ranks, rising from lecturer to senior lecturer in 1965 and professor in 1986. In 1996 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society and in 2006 was elected President for two years of the Royal Society of Chemistry
Royal Society of Chemistry
The Royal Society of Chemistry is a learned society in the United Kingdom with the goal of "advancing the chemical sciences." It was formed in 1980 from the merger of the Chemical Society, the Royal Institute of Chemistry, the Faraday Society and the Society for Analytical Chemistry with a new...

. Other than his appointment at Durham he also held various guest and visiting lecturer positions, including at the University of Leuven between 1985 and 1988, Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

 in 1993 and the California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering...

 in 1999.


He retired in 2003, but continues to work at Durham University as a Research Professor, and also at the Eindhoven University of Technology
Eindhoven University of Technology
The ' is a university of technology located in Eindhoven, Netherlands. The motto of the university is: Mens agitat molem . The university was the second of its kind in the Netherlands, only Delft University of Technology existed previously. Until mid-1980 it was known as the...

. In 2004 he was awarded an honorary DSc from the University of Warwick
University of Warwick
The University of Warwick is a public research university located in Coventry, United Kingdom...

. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for "services to polymer chemistry" in the 2007 New Year Honours
New Year Honours
The New Year Honours is a part of the British honours system, being a civic occasion on the New Year annually in which new members of most Commonwealth Realms honours are named. The awards are presented by the reigning monarch or head of state, currently Queen Elizabeth II...

. Later that year he was awarded a Royal Medal
Royal Medal
The Royal Medal, also known as The Queen's Medal, is a silver-gilt medal awarded each year by the Royal Society, two for "the most important contributions to the advancement of natural knowledge" and one for "distinguished contributions in the applied sciences" made within the Commonwealth of...

for "his outstanding contributions to chemical synthesis with far reaching implications, particularly for the field of functional polymeric materials."
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