Memorial service held for CEP founder, Professor Sir Gordon Conway


People standing in Holy Trinity Church, singing hymns.

Professor Sir Gordon Conway’s family, friends and colleagues gathered in Holy Trinity Church to pay their respects to the visionary ecologist.

Professor Sir Gordon Conway was remembered as a trail-blazing agricultural ecologist and entomologist, who used his scientific expertise to tackle food security and agriculture in the Global South.

Professor Conway’s family, friends, colleagues, as well as key figures in international development and agricultural policy, gathered to pay him tribute. Guests included: former Rector of Imperial, Sir Roy Anderson; President of African Development Bank, Akin Adesina; and Professor Conway’s former colleagues at Imperial, such as former Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Sir John Beddington. 

The memorial service, hosted in Holy Trinity Church, on Wednesday, 29 November. Afterwards, a reception was held at the main entrance of Imperial with an address by Provost Ian Walmsley. 

Ian Walmsley is delivering an address in front of a microphone to a reception filled with people.
Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost of Imperial, addressed Professor Conway's friends, family and colleagues at a reception in the main entrance of Imperial.

The service included tributes from Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, who worked with Professor Conway at the Department for International Development, as well as the current Director of the Centre for Environmental Policy, Professor Jeremy Woods.

Professor Conway’s three children read from a selection of their father’s writings, including his personal memoirs of being a field ecologist in the Caribbean and Borneo. 

Remembering an icon

“Gordon was a forward-looking, visionary leader who was also a truly interdisciplinary scientist,” said Professor Woods, “Perhaps even before the concept existed, Gordon anticipated the world's need for research and training in environmental technologies.”

Professor Conway co-founded the Imperial College Centre for Environmental Technology (ICCET) in 1976, looking ahead to the world’s future demand for interdisciplinary scientists and policymakers. 

ICCET later evolved to become the Centre for Environmental Policy (CEP), which celebrated its 45th anniversary this year.

Professor Conway served in impactful leadership positions in international development and science organisations such as the Rockefeller Foundation. Before his death, he led the Agriculture for Impact Programme at Imperial, which was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Professor Chris Whitty, standing at a podium in Holy Trinity Church, delivering a tribute.
Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, delivering a tribute to Professor Conway. The two worked together at the Department for International Development.

“Above all, Gordon had an irrepressible belief that science in all its forms, could transform the world for the better and that the people who are the most disadvantaged were the ones who would benefit the most from science,” said Professor Whitty.

Professor Conway’s legacy in policy and Imperial College London is written about in more detail in this obituary.


Jacklin Kwan

Jacklin Kwan
Faculty of Natural Sciences


Alumni, Development, Comms-strategy-Lifelong-attachment, Food-security
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