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JAMES R. HANSON 13 August 1937–13 September 2018

Posted on 3. October, 2018.

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It is with deep regret that we have to report the sudden death on 13 September of Jim Hanson who was Deputy Editor in Chief of Journal of Chemical Research. 

He did his BSc and MA at Oxford, then spent four years at the ICI Frythe Laboratories.  He took up a DSIR doctoral fellowship at Imperial College, working with DHR Barton, while teaching in the evenings at Sir John Cass College, and gained his PhD in 1963. In 1964 he joined the Chemistry Department at the University of Sussex as a lecturer, and remained there for the rest of his career, becoming Reader then Professor.

His research was focussed on the chemistry of triterpenes and related topics such as gibberellin chemistry, isotopic labelling, and biotransformations. He published prolifically with a list of over 550 publications, which included many reviews, some of which have been published in recent issues of Journal of Chemical Research and Science Progress. He was very active as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. This included being Chairman of the RSC Downland Section Committee, and being a National Assessor for the Grad RSC exam in practical chemistry. At the time of his death he was acting as an external examiner for the Institute of Chemistry in Sri Lanka. He was a member of the editorial board for the RSC’s Natural Product Reports from its launch in 1984 until 2006 and received a long-service award for the Society. From 1984 up to the present time he wrote their Annual Reports on terpenes and steroids.

He published 13 books, ranging from Functional Group Chemistry. and Organic Synthetic Methods (in the RSC series of Tutorial Chemical Texts), Chemistry in the Kitchen Garden, and his recent Some Spectroscopic Problems in Practical Organic Chemistry, which was a distillation of his experience of laboratory teaching.

He was as enthusiastic about teaching as about research and for many years after he retired he taught the summer school in chemistry at Sussex. He enjoyed his period as Sub- Dean which enabled him to have more contact with students. 

Jim was on the Editorial Board of Journal of Chemical Research when it was published by the RSC out of Cambridge, and when the journal was acquired by Science Reviews 2000 Ltd some 18 years ago he became Deputy Editor in Chief and helped to set up the editing system. He was instrumental in establishing the system of Preliminary Screening of manuscripts. He got into the University by 7.30, and by the time the Editor in Chief had logged on to the JCR database, Jim had gone through the papers which had come in overnight and had e-mailed his comments on the papers. At three weekly intervals he would come up to London and, with Editor in Chief would decide on the fate of the papers – query, reject, divert, or send to Editor. He dealt with all the correspondence on the query, reject, or divert papers.

Outside his life in chemistry he was the organist and church warden at the local church.

He was an intelligent and resourceful colleague, unfailingly helpful, kind and extremely knowledgeable – a friend and someone who loved his work and went above and beyond the call of duty. His sharp intellect, wise counsel, kindliness, and good humour profoundly touched all who knew him. He will be greatly missed.