Imperial College London

Professor Vernon C. Gibson, FRS

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Materials

Visiting Professor



+44 (0)20 7594 2783v.gibson




2.27Bessemer BuildingSouth Kensington Campus






Vernon Gibson is Visiting Professor in the Department of Materials. He was Chief Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Defence (2012-2016) and Chief Chemist at BP (2004-2008). Prior to this he was The Sir Edward Frankland Professor of Inorganic Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry.

He spent almost 30 years as an academic scientist pursuing a research career that took him from the University of Oxford to the California Institute of Technology, to the University of Durham and finally to Imperial College London. His field of expertise is molecular organometallic chemistry which he studied from fundamental and applied industrial perspectives. His contributions have been recognised by numerous awards and by his election to the Fellowship of the Royal Society (in 2004).

Throughout his academic career he worked closely with industry, developing a deep and flexible partnership with BP which led to the setting up of a pioneering joint discovery project at Imperial College. He was invited to join BP’s Technology Advisory Council and not long after was recruited to the role of Chief Chemist. While at BP he provided leadership to the Company’s large community of technologists and engineers and introduced an innovative model to link BP’s far-flung global research centres. He played an instrumental role in establishing BP’s International Centre for Advanced Materials, a 10 yr, $100M investment in the Universities of Manchester, Cambridge, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Imperial College.

In 2012 he was called to ‘service and duty’, spending four years as Chief Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Defence where, among other things, he held responsibility for the Department’s investment in research and technology. During his tenure he introduced a new governance arrangement for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), he moved a significant proportion of the Defence R&D budget towards funding new disruptive technologies and oversaw the development and introduction of the Department’s Innovation Initiative in 2016. He also developed significant new projects with international allies, one of the most important being a Joint Technology Demonstrator programme with the US National Nuclear Security Administration. He also worked closely with the US to develop and deploy ship-borne technology for the safe elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons stockpile in 2013. He was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath in the Queen’s 2017 New Year’s Honours list, for services to Defence.

Upon leaving MoD in 2016, he joined Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government for a short period as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar. He now draws on his experience of science and technology across academia, industry and government to foster partnerships at the interfaces of these sectors. He is a special adviser to senior leaders in a number of Universities, oversees BP’s International Centre for Advanced Materials and works with Government Defence and Security to identify opportunities to enhance capability.


more information



Cariou R, Chirinos J, Gibson VC, et al., 2009, 1,3-butadiene polymerization by bis(benzimidazolyl)amine metal complexes: Remarkable microstructural control and a protocol for in-reactor blending of trans-1,4-, cis-1,4-, and cis-1,4-co-1,2-vinylpolybutadiene., Macromolecules (washington, Dc, U. S.), Vol:42, ISSN:0024-9297, Pages:1443-1444

Cariou R, Gibson VC, Tomov AK, et al., 2009, Group 4 metal complexes bearing new tridentate (NNO) ligands: Benzyl migration and formation of unusual C-C coupled products., J. Organomet. Chem., Vol:694, ISSN:0022-328X, Pages:703-716

Nimitsiriwat N, Gibson VC, Marshall EL, et al., 2009, Bidentate salicylaldiminato tin(II) complexes and their use as lactide polymerisation initiators, Dalton Transactions, ISSN:1477-9226, Pages:3710-3715

Whiteoak CJ, Britovsek GJP, Gibson VC, et al., 2009, Electronic effects in oxo transfer reactions catalysed by salan molybdenum(VI) <i>cis</i>-dioxo complexes, Dalton Transactions, ISSN:1477-9226, Pages:2337-2344

Biagini SCG, Gibson VC, Giles MR, et al., 2008, Copolymerization of Amino Acid and Amino Ester Functionalized Norbornenes via Living Ring-Opening Metathesis Polymerization, Journal of Polymer Science Part A-polymer Chemistry, Vol:46, ISSN:0887-624X, Pages:7985-7995

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