After graduating from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1967, he went on to do a PhD and post-doc
in the University of Cambridge, moving from there to Göttingen as an ICI Fellow and then to Bristol, where
he became a Lecturer in Physical Chemistry in 1979 and Reader in 1991. During this latter period he set up
research groups in diverse topics including silicon device technology, electro n-molecule scattering, using
the Daresbury and Paris (Orsay) synchrotron sources, as well as in observational and theoretical astrophysics
of interstellar masers and infra-red studies of star-forming regions, with the common theme of understanding
weakly ionized plasmas in the laboratory and in nature. He helped develop the growing relationship between
experimental physics, chemistry and astrophysics. During the period between 1993 and 2004, he held
eight posts of ‘astronome’ or visiting professor at respectively the Observatory of Paris and the
University of Paris-Sud.
He was appointed a visiting professor and then a full professor at the University of Aarhus in 1999 in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Here, using the ASTRID synchrotron source, of which he became the scientific director, he created the subject of cold scattering using low energy electrons, revealing for example the processes of virtual state scattering and state-to-state rotationally inelastic scattering in polyatomic molecules. At the same time he continued with infra-red astronomy, pioneering the use of adaptive optics techniques, now a standard measure, in this field. He also played an important role in acquiring the new third generation synchrotron source now running at Aarhus (ASTRID2) and has been involved in numerous EU and other collaborative projects in the last decade or more.