Professor Tony Downs


The Department is very sad to announce the death of former colleague Professor Tony Downs at the age of 85.

Tony joined the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory in 1966, first as a senior research officer, then as lecturer and latterly as Professor. He was also (for 37 years) a dedicated and inspirational tutor in inorganic chemistry at Jesus College, before retiring from both positions in 2003. 

Tony was an undergraduate at St John's College Cambridge, from where he also obtained his doctoral degree in 1961 for work on perfluoroorgano compounds of sulphur, under the supervision of Profs H.J. Emeléus and E.A.V. Ebsworth. Prior to coming to Oxford, he held a Salters' Fellowship in Cambridge and a lecturer position at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. 

Tony's research interests focussed primarily on fundamental studies of the reactivity of both main group and transition elements, including seminal work on main group metal hydrides. His work was characterized, in particular, by the use of rigorous techniques to investigate highly reactive molecular compounds, with the synthesis of digallane, finally achieved in 1989 being described at the time as a 'tour de force.' 

Tony is warmly remembered by former co-workers for his unfailing good humour, unstinting support (and that of his wife Mary), for extensive group treks (including one to the Himalayas!) and fondness for Hampshire County Cricket Club.