Sir Anthony Cheetham Becomes UCSB’s First Knighted Professor

Illustration by Alyssa Long

Edward Colmenares
Isla Vista Beat Reporter

Sir Anthony Cheetham of Manchester, a materials chemistry research professor here at U.C. Santa Barbara (UCSB), is set to receive the British royal honor of knighthood this coming June at Buckingham palace.

Through funny coincidence unbeknownst to Sir Anthony, a formal letter from the royal family officially proclaiming the knighthood honor found its way to the wrong home address. It took a frantic email received a month later from the office of the British prime minister to notify Sir Anthony that he was to become a knight bachelor.

The process and celebration of knighthood is formally known as an investiture, where a senior member of the royal family, perhaps even Queen Elizabeth herself, taps both shoulders of the honoree using a knight sword in a process known as dubbing. A dashing medal is then placed on the shoulders, and the honoree is thereby to be recognized as a knight with the title of “sir.”

Tony, as Cheetham is known by his colleagues here at UCSB, is nothing but excited and utterly grateful to receive the honor and is particularly thankful towards his wife who now owns the honorary title of Lady Janet Cheetham.

Such a remarkable title is exclusive to professionals who have demonstrated perseverance, notable public service, or greatly distinguished work in their professional domain, whether that be in music, sports, or in Sir Anthony’s case, science. Specifically, the official citation included with Cheetham’s formal recognition was in regards to his “service to materials chemistry, U.K. science, and global outreach.”

Sir Anthony has dedicated his life to the advancement of materials chemistry and educational pursuits. Here at UCSB, the knight bachelor’s career prospered as the gentleman found himself in dual positions as an exceptional professor in the materials chemistry department from 1991 to 2007 and as the first director of the materials research lab from 1992 to 2004. 

Cheetham moved back to Britain and became a professor at Cambridge University for the next ten years, five of which he spent as treasurer and vice president of the national academy of science known as the royal society. Such positions were crucial in receiving the accolade — one must not only be a British citizen but must also have conducted work in Britain.

In 2017, he then returned to UCSB as a research professor. Currently, his scientific focus is the development and composition of new molecular matter and its potential magnetic and optical properties. His hopes are to create an alternative for toxic lead-based molecules abundant in solar cell technologies.

Sir Anthony will be the first professor knighted at UCSB. 

The advice from the knight and genius chemistry professor for students looking to make research as a career: “Doing scientific research is a most exciting and rewarding way of life … you get to do things that have never been done before.”

“You have to be willing to take risks. If you don’t take any risks everything is just incremental and you never find anything really exciting.”

Sir Anthony Cheetham of Manchester took a moment to thank his wife with the now official title of Lady Janet Cheetham.


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