Professor Keith Smith

Elected: 2011

Area(s): Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine & Mathematics

Specialist Subject(s): Chemistry

Professor of Organic Chemistry, Cardiff University

Professor Keith Smith’s career has predominantly been spent in academia in Wales. Since 2006 he has also run a small chemical research company based in Swansea and he has been extensively involved with various charitable organisations, mostly connected with science and academia.

After graduating from Manchester University with BSc, MSc and PhD degrees in chemistry he spent one year at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH Zurich) as a Royal Society European Exchange Postdoctoral Fellow before joining the academic staff of Swansea University (then the University College of Swansea) in 1972. In 1978-79 he spent a sabbatical year at Purdue University in the USA at the invitation of Professor HC Brown (who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1979), but otherwise he remained at Swansea University until 2007, rising to the rank of Professor in 1988 and spending two stints as Head of Chemistry (1990-1993 and 2001-2007) as well as one year as Dean of Overseas Affairs. In 2007 he moved to Cardiff University as Professor of Organic Chemistry and on formal retirement in 2013 was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus by Cardiff University.

During fifty years in academia Professor Smith has produced over 400 publications, inclusive of research articles, books, chapters and patents. In 2006 he started a spin-out company to commercialise some aspects of his research and remains as managing director of the company to the present day.

He is a chartered chemist and was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) in the 1980s. He has served the RSC in many capacities, including as a Council member (twice), Finance Committee member, President of the South West Wales Local Section, Honorary Secretary of the Perkin Division and Vice-Chair of the Post-Experience Courses Committee, and he is currently Vice-Chair of the RSC Disciplinary Committee. He was also the inaugural winner of the RSC Industrially Sponsored Award (medal and prize) for Green Chemistry.

He is a past President and Council member of the National Conference of University Professors and has served on the Standing Committee of the Higher Education Chemistry Committee and as Chair of its Wales Section. He has acted as Chair of Science and the Assembly, an annual event hosted by the National Assembly for Wales. His current roles include Council Member/Trustee of the Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust and member of the Cross-Party group on STEMM of the National Assembly for Wales.

He was elected to Fellowship of the Learned Society of Wales in 2011 and has been a Trustee and member of its Council since 2012. He became Treasurer in May 2018.