Professor John Sherwood

I am deeply saddened to learn that Prof. John Neil Sheroowd passed away in December 2020. John was my post-doctoral supervisor at the University of Strathclyde. He was a pioneer in organic solid-state chemistry, organic nonlinear optical materials, crystal growth, and crystal defects characterization using synchrotron radiation. For an excellent obituary summing up his career, see Prof. Kevin Roberts' obituary in The Guardian.

My association with Prof. Sherwood started in my first year as a research student at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. John (always accompanied by his wife Margaret) visited the IISc at least once every year. I had numerous fruitful discussions with him. He provided excellent guidance for growing samples for my nonlinear optics work. In one of his visits, he invited me to his lab for my post-doctoral fellowship; I was not even ready to write my thesis then. He later suggested and guided me to apply for the Leverhulme Commonwealth Fellowship.

I had the great opportunity to work on nonlinear optics, thermal, and mechanical properties of a few organic and semi-organic crystals in his lab and on synchrotron topography at the Daresbury Laboratory, Cheshire, England. These experiences were invaluable for me as a young researcher. John and Margaret also took very personal care of Viji and me. At the end of the year, he offered me to continue in his lab, but the visa extension was denied by the high commission. They cited an obscure clause under the Leverhulme award (at the end of the term, I must go back to my home country). John aggressively contested interpreting ‘the term’ and appealed in vain, despite my losing interest in going to the country that denied a visa. I missed the opportunity to work for at least three more years with him. Later, I spent a few more months at Glasgow as a visiting researcher.

John Sherwood was the chairman of the British Association for Crystal Growth. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of Chemistry. He retired in 2002 but continued to publish for another decade and a half. He was a true giant in organic crystal growth and a great human being.