Peter Wothers

Peter David Wothers, MBE, is a British chemist and author of several popular textbooks aimed at university students. He is a teaching fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge and is a fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge.[2][3]

Peter Wothers
Peter Wothers
Peter David Wothers
EducationBedford Modern School
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge (BA, PhD)
Known for
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Cambridge
ThesisAn examination of the anomeric effect (1996)


Wothers was educated at Bedford Modern School and St Catharine's College, Cambridge,[4] where he received his PhD in 1996 for investigations into the anomeric effect.[5][6][7][8]


Wothers has co-authored the first edition of the well-known and best-selling Organic Chemistry[9] textbook together with Jonathan Clayden, Nick Greeves and his fellow Cambridge lecturer Stuart Warren. His two other popular works Why Chemical Reactions Happen[10] and Chemical Structure and Reactivity,[11] written with James Keeler, aim to combine the different branches of chemistry into an integrated whole.

Wothers is also very active in promoting chemistry to the wider public, and has won prizes such as the Royal Society of Chemistry President's Award in 2011 for his outstanding contribution to public outreach, handed to him by the RSC President David Phillips.[12] He has also been responsible for organising the International Chemistry Olympiads for several years and has been chair of the 41st edition.[13]

Television and radio appearances

Peter Wothers has made numerous television appearances as a chemistry specialist, notably as one of the presenters in the Discovery Channel series "The Big Experiment".[14] In December 2012 he presented the series of three televised Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, entitled 'The Modern Alchemist'.[15]

He was a guest on Andrew Marr's Start the Week on BBC Radio 4: the episode was a Science Special broadcast on 17 December 2012. Wothers talked about modern day chemistry and science along with Ewan Birney, Sanjeev Gupta and Helen Bynum who were also guests on the show.[16]

Awards and honours

Wothers was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to chemistry through the International Chemistry Olympiad.[17][18] During the same year he was nominated as one of the 100 leading UK practising scientists by the Science Council.[19] He was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry's Nyholm Prize for Education in 2013.[20]

Wothers is featured as one of the Royal Society of Chemistry's 175 Faces of Chemistry.[21]


  1. Watch the Modern Alchemist], 2012 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures
  2. "Natural Sciences at St. Catharine's". St Catharine's College, Cambridge. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  3. "Department of Chemistry Members of Staff". Department of Chemistry, Cambridge. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  4. Who's Who 2014, Published by A&C Black Limited, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2014; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2013; online edn, Dec 2013
  5. Wothers, Peter (1996). An examination of the anomeric effect (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. OCLC 894607586.
  6. Jones, P. G.; Komarov, I. V.; Wothers, P. D. (1998). "A test for the reverse anomeric effect". Chemical Communications (16): 1695–1696. doi:10.1039/A804354J.
  7. Kirby, A. J.; Komarov, I. V.; Wothers, P. D.; Feeder, N. (1998). "The Most Twisted Amide: Structure and Reactions". Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 37 (6): 785. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1521-3773(19980403)37:6<785::AID-ANIE785>3.0.CO;2-J.
  8. Kirby, A. J.; Komarov, I. V.; Wothers, P. D.; Feeder, N.; Jones, P. G. (1999). "Stereoelectronic interactions between hetero-atoms". Pure and Applied Chemistry. 71 (3): 385. doi:10.1351/pac199971030385.
  9. Clayden, Jonathan; Greeves, Nick; Warren, Stuart; Wothers, Peter (2001). Organic Chemistry (1st ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-850346-0.
  10. Keeler, James; Wothers, Peter (2003). Why chemical reactions happen. Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0199249732.
  11. Wothers, Peter; Keeler, Wothers (2008). Chemical structure and reactivity : an integrated approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978019928930-1.
  12. "Dr Peter Wothers wins RSC President's Award". University of Cambridge. 7 June 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  13. "U.S. Wins Gold in Chemistry Olympiad". American Chemical Society. 3 August 2009. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  14. "The Big Experiment". Royal Society of Chemistry. April 2008. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  15. "The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2012". Royal Institution of Great Britain. August 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  16. "Start the Week – Science Special". BBC. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  17. "No. 60895". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 2014. p. b26.
  19. "100 leading UK practising scientists". Science Council. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  20. "Nyholm Prize for Education Previous Winners". Royal Society of Chemistry. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  21. "Dr Peter Wothers MBE FRSC | 175 Faces of Chemistry". Retrieved 24 July 2015.
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