Professor Emeritus John David Ronald Thomas (1925-2022)

Earlier this year we received news of the death of Professor JDR (Ron) Thomas of Carnaugwynion, Gwynfe, Carmarthenshire.

Professor Thomas was a good friend of the University and established the 'JDR and Gwyneth Thomas Fund' which sponsors Welsh-speaking students who study economics or rural science at Aberystwyth University.

The following tribute has been prepared by Professor Gareth Griffith from IBERS with the help of Gaenor Taffinder, Professor Thomas’ daughter.

Professor Thomas received his early education at Rhiwfawr and Gwynfe Primary Schools and Llandovery High School. He studied Chemistry and Mathematics at Cardiff University (1950) and was appointed as a lecturer at UWIST (University of Wales Institute of Technology), which is now part of Cardiff University. He was the first person from UWIST to receive a DSc degree (1972) and was awarded a Chair there in 1988. He was also President of the Analytical Section of the Royal Chemical Society from 1990 until 92.

His area of expertise was electro-analytical chemistry and he developed a number of piezoelectric and ion-selective sensors. He lectured widely across the world and through his lectures was a good ambassador for Wales as he opened his lectures with colourful projections of Cardiff and punctuated scientific points with projections of the beautiful scenery of the Welsh countryside. (Y Cymro article November 1991 ‘Dadansoddwr Cemegol Sy’n Enwog Drwy’r Byd’ - Chemical Analyst Famous Throughout the World.)

In 2008 Professor Thomas established the 'JDR and Gwyneth Thomas Fund' in memory of his Father John Thomas (1894–1978) who studied Agriculture in Aberystwyth in 1916, while his uncle Sir John Williams, the famous surgeon, was one of the founders of the National Library of Wales and President of the University.