Chief Scientific Adviser
Professor John Pethica graduated from the University of Cambridge with a PhD in physics. He was a scientist at Brown Boveri in Switzerland, followed by a Fellowship at Cambridge University. He was appointed Lecturer, then Professor of Materials Science at the University of Oxford, from where he went to Trinity College, Dublin in 2001. He continues his connection with Oxford through a Visiting Professorship.
John's research is in the fields of surfaces, thin films, atomic- and nano-scale structures, and nanomechanics. He is the originator of novel AFM, STM and nano-indentation techniques. His current research is on nanomechanics and the manipulation and control of matter at the atomic and molecular scale, with application to novel devices and biological structures.
He has been awarded the Rosenhain Medal, Institute of Materials (1997), the Hughes Medal, Royal Society (2001) and the Holweck Medal, French Physics Society (2002).
In 1999, John was elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) and ten years later was elected Physical Sciences Secretary and Vice-President of the Royal Society. In 2013, he was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng); and in the 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours list, he received a knighthood (Kt) for services to science.
John joined NPL as the Laboratory's Chief Scientific Adviser in 2007. His scientific background and reputation as well as his business skills, alongside his connections with government departments, industry, academia and the Royal Society enhance NPL's science and business strategies. John focuses primarily on leading excellence in knowledge generation, on science strategy and developing frameworks to extend the scientific capability of NPL. He acts as the head of profession for NPL scientists.