Skip to main content

Warwick Farewell - Professor Sir Howard Dalton FRS

Professor Sir Howard DaltonIt is with very great regret that the University has been informed of the sudden and untimely death of Professor Sir Howard Dalton on Saturday 12th January 2008 in Leamington Spa.

Following a D. Phil. at the University of Sussex and postdoctoral work in the USA and Sussex, Sir Howard joined the University of Warwick in 1973 as a lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences. His pioneering work, particularly on methane oxidation brought him international recognition and he was promoted to a personal Chair in 1983. Sir Howard's career brought him countless accolades including election to the Royal Society in 1993, election as President of the Society for General Microbiology from 1997 to 2000 and the award of the Leeuwenhoek Medal lecture of the Royal Society in 2000.

Sir Howard was appointed Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences from 1999 to 2002 when he was seconded to become Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In his position as Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Howard was instrumental in raising the profile of climate change as a significant global threat and delivered many lectures on that, and other important issues of the day, at many international fora. He also led the scientific advisory team to generate the UK contingency plan for dealing with the threat from avian influenza virus. Throughout the period of his appointment at DEFRA Sir Howard maintained strong links with the University, returning every week to run his research group. Sir Howard was knighted in the 2007 New Years Honours list for services to science and returned full time to the University in October 2007.

As well as the many positions that Sir Howard held in the University dealing with academic matters he was also instrumental in other areas of University life. In particular, his enthusiasm for, and extensive knowledge of, Japanese gardens resulted in the University creating two such gardens. Sir Howard was an immensely popular member of the University at all levels. His natural good humour and forthright approach garnered many friends both here and elsewhere. Sir Howard is survived by his wife Lady Kira and four children to whom we send our heartfelt sympathy for their sad loss.

Sir Howard’s family are extremely grateful for the condolences and messages of support they have received. They will be organising an event, celebrating Sir Howard's life, in February and the University will be organising a Memorial Service and celebration for Sir Howard in May. Details will follow.

It is Lady Kira's wish that tributes should be in the form of donations (not flowers) to the African Oyster Trust (Charity Registration Number 1118298) which support their humanitarian work in building schools and medical centres in The Gambia. A special fund has been set up in Sir Howard’s name to support special projects in the future. Cheques should be made payable to “African Oyster Trust”.

First published in CommUnicate 320