Development & Alumni Relations Office 

John Joseph McGarvey (died 27 October 2017, aged 78)


A full appreciation (from which the obituary below was extracted) can be found in News Letter.


John Joseph McGarvey, who died suddenly at the age of 78, had a distinguished and pioneering academic career at Queen’s University and was known internationally for his research.


 A native of Newtownstewart in County Tyrone, he was an early adopter of advanced photonics techniques that have now become commonplace laboratory tools, such as Raman spectroscopy and time resolved techniques that allow for the detailed study of photophysical properties of molecules.


Educated at the Christian Brothers’ School in Omagh, he attended Queen’s University, where he obtained his BSc in 1960 and was awarded his PhD in 1964 for his study of gas phase catalysis under Dr Bill McGrath.


He then became a postdoctoral research fellow at US Army Natick Laboratories in Massachusetts, returning to Northern Ireland, where he taught for a year in Dungannon before taking up an appointment at Queen’s in 1967 as an Assistant Lecturer in Chemistry. He subsequently held a Chair in Physical Chemistry at QUB until retirement in October 2005.


Throughout his career, his research interests were in laser photochemistry and spectroscopy. Professor McGarvey was a pioneer in the study of fast chemical reactions and for many years was a prominent member of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Fast Reaction in Solution group which brought together the leading European researchers in small focussed discussion meetings that significantly advanced the area.


He was also an early proponent of Raman spectroscopy, using laser scattering to determine the structure of chemical compounds and materials. This technique developed into a major branch of chemical analysis in which QUB has grown to be an internationally recognized centre.


During his career, Professor McGarvey published more than 150 refereed papers, as well as several reviews and book chapters. In retirement he remained research active, holding an Emeritus Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust and working in both the School of Chemistry, where he was an Emeritus Professor and as a Visiting Research Professor in Centre for Experimental Medicine at Queen’s.


In 2012 he was elected as a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in recognition of the many achievements throughout a long and distinguished career.


Professor McGarvey, who lived at Dunmurry, is survived by his wife Mona, and their children Lorcan, Niall, Sinead, Aine, Orlaith, Niamh, Eilis and Ciaran and a wide family circle including 20 grandchildren.


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