Professor William J. Kerr


1919 Professor of Organic Chemistry
Deputy Associate Principal (Research & Knowledge Exchange)

Billy Kerr was born in Glasgow and raised in the district of Drumchapel. His undergraduate studies were undertaken at the University of Strathclyde, where he gained a 1st Class Honours degree in Chemistry in 1983. He then remained at Strathclyde to study towards a PhD with Professor Peter Pauson and Dr David Billington; he gained his PhD in 1986.

From 1986-1988 Billy was engaged as a NIH Postdoctoral Research Associate in the laboratory of Professor Myron Rosenblum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, USA and in 1988 he returned to the UK and joined Professor Steven Ley at Imperial College, London, as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant. In 1989, Billy returned to Strathclyde to take up a Lectureship position in Organic Chemistry, was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1997, and in 2002 to a Professorial Chair in Organic Chemistry. In 2011 Billy was awarded the endowed Chair of 1919 Professor of Organic Chemistry at Strathclyde and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2014.

His research interests cover a broad range of metal-mediated synthetic organic chemistry and, in particular, in the development of new preparative techniques, the creation of asymmetric processes, and the use of these emerging methods in total synthesis programmes. In 1991 Billy was named as an ICI Fine Chemicals Young Lecturer and in 1997 he was awarded the Glaxo Wellcome Prize for Innovative Organic Chemistry. In 2005 and 2009 Billy was Visiting Professor at the Technical University of Lodz, Poland. More recently, Billy was named as the recipient of the prestigious Melvin Calvin Award (2015) presented by the International Isotope Society once every three years for outstanding contributions to Isotope Chemistry.

From December, 2009, Billy was established as the Director of the University of Strathclyde and GlaxoSmithKline Collaborative MPhil and PhD Programme and now Doctoral Training Centre in Synthetic and Medicinal Chemistry. This landmark partnership has supported both GSK employees and new graduates towards higher research degrees. The collaboration has included over 180 research students to date and has seen over 100 research papers published in a notable series of contributions towards the research outputs of both organisations and all associated with the UK and wider global health sector.

In addition to the above, Billy holds the position of Deputy Associate Principal (Research & Knowledge Exchange) at Strathclyde. In collaboration with the University of Strathclyde Principal, Billy leads activity in the areas of Research and Knowledge Exchange, with associated roles aligning with the University’s Postgraduate Research portfolio and Researcher Development. He supports the Executive Team as Strathclyde continues to further develop and escalate its research and knowledge exchange activities within its wider vision as a leading International Technological University.

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