Bill Rutherford

For other people called William Rutherford, see William Rutherford.
Bill Rutherford

Bill Rutherford in 2014, portrait via the Royal Society
Born Alfred William Rutherford
Alma mater University College London (PhD)
Thesis Electron paramagnetic resonance studies of photosynthetic electron transport in purple bacteria (1979)
Doctoral advisor Michael C.W. Evans[3][4][5]
Notable awards

Alfred William (Bill) Rutherford FRS is Professor and Chair in Biochemistry of Solar Energy in the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London.[7][8]


Rutherford was educated at University College London (UCL) where he was awarded a PhD in 1979 for electron paramagnetic resonance studies of photosynthetic electron transport in purple bacteria.[3][4][5][9]


Rutherford's research[10][11][12][13][14][15][16] investigates:

the water oxidising enzyme Photosystem II in terms of its mechanism, its assembly and its evolutionary relationships with other photosynthetic reaction centres. This enzyme has become the focus of attention because cheap water splitting catalysts are urgently needed in the energy sector for solar fuel production, electrolysis of water and the reverse reaction in fuel cells. My research has made major contributions to understanding this enzyme before it was either popular or profitable. Now that it is finally becoming both of those, I hope to continue to do more of the same. Not just because it might contribute to solving aspects of the energy crisis but also because understanding the enzyme, which put the energy into the biosphere, the oxygen into the atmosphere and thence changed the planet, is one of the greatest challenges in biology and chemistry. It is also a fun enzyme to work on.[2]

Rutherford's research has been funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC),[17] the Wolfson Foundation and the Royal Society.

Awards and honours

Rutherford was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2014. His nomination reads:

Bill Rutherford has made seminal contributions that provided deep insights into the structure and function of photosynthetic reaction centres, in particular Photosystem II (PSII). He was the first to propose that PSII had the same basic structure as the simpler, non-oxygenic purple bacterial reaction centre. This key conceptual change became accepted thanks to his important experimental contributions. He went on to discover key features of PSII that differentiate it from other reaction centres. The current understanding of PSII owes a great deal to his incisive experiments and thinking.[6]

Rutherford has also been awarded the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award, the Médaille d'argent of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in 2001 and was elected a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in 2001.[2] On January 25, 2013 Rutherford received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Science and Technology at Uppsala University, Sweden.[18]

Personal life

Bill is a musician in The Baskervilles Blues Band.[19][20]


  1. Rutherford, A. W.; Faller, P (2003). "Photosystem II: Evolutionary perspectives". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 358 (1429): 245–53. doi:10.1098/rstb.2002.1186. PMC 1693113Freely accessible. PMID 12594932.
  2. 1 2 3 Professor Bill Rutherford, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London
  3. 1 2 Rutherford, A. W.; Evans, M. C. W. (1979). "A high potential semiquinone-iron type EPR signal in Rhodopseudomonas viridis". FEBS Letters. 100 (2): 305–308. doi:10.1016/0014-5793(79)80357-9.
  4. 1 2 Rutherford, A. W.; Evans, M. C. W. (1979). "The high potential semiquinone-iron signal in Rhodopseudomonas viridis is the specific quinone secondary electron acceptor in the photosynthetic reaction centre". FEBS Letters. 104 (2): 227–230. doi:10.1016/0014-5793(79)80820-0.
  5. 1 2 Rutherford, A. W.; Heathcote, P; Evans, M. C. (1979). "Electron-paramagnetic-resonance measurements of the electron-transfer components of the reaction centre of Rhodopseudomonas viridis. Oxidation--reduction potentials and interactions of the electron acceptors". The Biochemical Journal. 182 (2): 515–23. doi:10.1042/bj1820515. PMC 1161333Freely accessible. PMID 228655.
  6. 1 2 "Professor Bill Rutherford FRS". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2014-08-27.
  7. List of publications from Microsoft Academic Search
  8. Bill Rutherford's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database, a service provided by Elsevier. (subscription required)
  9. Rutherford, Aflred William (1979). Electron paramagnetic resonance studies of photosynthetic electron transport in purple bacteria (PhD thesis). University College London.
  10. Hanley, J; Deligiannakis, Y; Pascal, A; Faller, P; Rutherford, A. W. (1999). "Carotenoid oxidation in photosystem II". Biochemistry. 38 (26): 8189–95. doi:10.1021/bi990633u. PMID 10387064.
  11. Un, S.; Atta, M.; Fontecave, M.; Rutherford, A. W. (1995). "G-Values as a Probe of the Local Protein Environment: High-Field EPR of Tyrosyl Radicals in Ribonucleotide Reductase and Photosystem II". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 117 (43): 10713–10719. doi:10.1021/ja00148a013.
  12. Rutherford, A. W. (1989). "Photosystem II, the water-splitting enzyme". Trends in Biochemical Sciences. 14 (6): 227–32. doi:10.1016/0968-0004(89)90032-7. PMID 2669240.
  13. Rutherford, A. W.; Krieger-Liszkay, A (2001). "Herbicide-induced oxidative stress in photosystem II". Trends in Biochemical Sciences. 26 (11): 648–53. doi:10.1016/s0968-0004(01)01953-3. PMID 11701322.
  14. Boussac, A; Zimmermann, J. L.; Rutherford, A. W. (1989). "EPR signals from modified charge accumulation states of the oxygen evolving enzyme in Ca2+-deficient photosystem II". Biochemistry. 28 (23): 8984–9. doi:10.1021/bi00449a005. PMID 2557913.
  15. Cardona, T.; Sedoud, A.; Cox, N.; Rutherford, A. W. (2012). "Charge separation in Photosystem II: A comparative and evolutionary overview". Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics. 1817: 26–43. doi:10.1016/j.bbabio.2011.07.012.
  16. Thapper, A.; Styring, S. R.; Saracco, G.; Rutherford, A. W.; Robert, B.; Magnuson, A.; Lubitz, W.; Llobet, A.; Kurz, P.; Holzwarth, A.; Fiechter, S.; De Groot, H.; Campagna, S.; Braun, A.; Bercegol, H.; Artero, V. (2013). "Artificial Photosynthesis for Solar Fuels – an Evolving Research Field within AMPEA, a Joint Programme of the European Energy Research Alliance". Green. 3. doi:10.1515/green-2013-0007.
  17. UK Government research grants awarded to Alfred William Rutherford, via Research Councils UK
  18. "New honorary doctorates in science and technology - Uppsala University, Sweden". Retrieved 2016-02-03.
  19. Baum, Harold (1995). Biochemists' Song Book. CRC Press. ISBN 0748404163. OCLC 191661780.
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