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Prof Paul Madden

The Provost


I am a theoretical chemist by background and have been Provost since 2008. As such, I am responsible, in an overarching way, for everything that happens in the College, and I chair academic, financial and domestic committees. I also meet with the College’s undergraduate and graduate students individually and at various formal and informal events, and welcome their feedback about their lives in the College. I currently have a role in the wider University as the Chair of the Conference of Colleges, the body which helps the 38 colleges and 6 private halls to act collectively on issues that matter to them. This also sees me sitting on most of the University’s major committees. I am a pro-Vice Chancellor, standing in for the VC in various capacities when he is unavailable.


After getting my degrees from the University of Sussex, punctuated by a spell at UCLA, I began my career in the Chemistry Department at the University of Cambridge, where I was a Fellow of Magdalene College; I transferred to the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment in 1981. From 1984 until 2004 I was Tutor and Fellow in Chemistry at Queen’s and at one stage became Senior Tutor amongst other roles. From 2005 until 2008 I was the Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions at the University of Edinburgh. I took up the office of Provost on 2 August 2008. During my academic career I have been particularly fortunate to have spent periods of sabbatical leave as visiting professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Lyon (1990), the University of Sydney (1999), and UC Berkeley (2004). I was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in 2001 and made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2006.


Since the mid-80s my research career has been increasingly concerned with the development of computationally efficient methods for the simulation and prediction of materials properties at the atomistic level, with a particular focus on ionic materials and molten salts. In recent times I have taken a particular interest in materials relating to new energy technologies – batteries, super-capacitors and proposed liquid-cored nuclear reactors burning thorium. I have published over 300 peer-reviewed articles with an H-index approaching 60: a couple of these publications are listed below.


Hydration of metal surfaces can be dynamically heterogeneous and hydrophobic; Limmer, David T; Willard, Adam P; Madden, Paul; Chandler, David PNAS 110 Pages: 4200-5 (2013)

On the molecular origin of supercapacitance in nanoporous carbon electrodes; C. Merlet, B. Rotenberg, P.A. Madden, P.-L. Taberna, P. Simon, Y. Gogotsi, M. Salanne; Nature Materials, 11, 306-310 (2012).