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Melville lab 31_5_13-2287 taken by Caroline Hancox, ©University of Cambridge copy.jpeg

Melville Laboratory

History of the Melville Laboratory

Sir Harry Melville, after whom the Laboratory was named, worked as a Colloid Chemist at Cambridge in the 1930s. He later became Professor of Polymer Science at Birmingham University, then Provost of Queen Mary College, London. He died in June 2001. The University of Cambridge has been a centre of excellence for research in the theory and properties of polymeric materials for a considerable time. However, it was recognised that there was a real need to establish a resource in polymer synthesis to manage the design and synthesis of novel polymeric materials, vital to a more detailed understanding of polymeric behaviour.

The Melville Laboratory for Polymer Synthesis was established in 1990 with Professor A. C. Griffin as Director. The Laboratory was established as a result of the initiative of some individuals with great vision - Professor Sir Sam Edwards (Cavendish Professor of Physics until 1995), Professor Alan Windle (Professor of Materials Science), Dr Alan Hulme-Lowe (3M), Dr Chris Triggs (ICI), Professor Rodney Townsend (Unilever), Dr Anil Seal (Isaac Newton Trust), and Dr Eric Howells (Wolfson Cambridge Industrial Unit).

In 1994, Professor Anselm C. Griffin moved to the School of Polymer, Textile and Fiber Engineering in Atlanta, and was succeeded by Professor Andrew (Andy) B. Holmes as Director. Under his guidance, the Melville Laboratory moved to first-rate labs in the Department of Chemistry. In September 2004, Professor Holmes returned to his hometown of Melbourne as an ARC Federation Fellow at the University there, and Professor Wilhelm Huck took over the directorship. In 2010 Wilhelm returned to the Netherlands to pivot his research towards understanding the complexity of cellular life and Professor Oren A. Scherman  was appointed as the new Director. In 2013 Professor Silvia Vignolini joined the Melville to launch her independent research career on Photonic Structures in Nature and Bio-mimetic Materials. After 10 years in the Melville, Silvia is now moving on to found the new Department "Sustainable and Bio-inspired Materials" at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces (MPICI) in Podstam, Germany as its first female Director. 

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