Phillip John


  • EH14 4AS

    United Kingdom

1971 …2017

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research interests


Phillip John OBE BSc PhD DSc, Professor Emeritus at Heriot-Watt University, has published over 200 peer reviewed publications, patents, book chapters and reviews, managed over fifty grants from Research Council, Government and industry sources, supervised 31 PhD and research MSc students (27 PhDs), given numerous invited lectures at national and  international conferences. Member of the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) College and currently EU Rapporteur and expert reviewer for the Horizon Europe research programme. The research achievements underpin the science of advanced materials.  As an early career researcher, he was invited to present the Irvine Review Lecture (1982) at the University of St Andrews and, on two occasions, the Ames Lectures (1983, 1990) at the University of Edinburgh.  He was honored by two National Research Council of Canada (NRC) Distinguished Visiting Scientist awards in the 1980s collaborating with Peter Hackett FRSC, former Vice President of NRC, in the area of laser chemistry.

Following a commissioned paper (1989) to The Cabinet Office, he chaired the UK Science & Engineering Research Council (SERC) Town meeting on laboratory grown diamond developing the Council strategy in this area and obtained the first UK Research Council grant on the microwave plasma growth of diamond.  He was appointed to the International Programme Committee (1995) and, ultimately in 1997, the Organising Committee (4 international scientists) of the pre-eminent International Diamond Conference in 1997.  Phillip has served on the Management Committee of the SERC supported 'Research Network on Carbon Materials' and from 2002 the Management Board of the £2.4m EPSRC initiative 'Carbon Based Electronics: A National Consortium'.  An EPSRC grant (2007) worth £1.4m was awarded for next generation materials for plasma fusion in collaboration with (the late) Professor Marshall Stoneham FRS at UCL. Phillip is a reviewer and Rapporteur for Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe research programmes in materials technology.

Phillip continues to collaborate with the Korea Institute of Science and Technology and has jointly published 15 papers and been granted five joint patents on diamond and graphene; a 2008 paper (Journal of Chemical Physics) on templating graphene on (111) diamond planes has been highly cited (>250 in Google Scholar). 

Research interests include thermal, laser and plasma chemical vapour 

deposition (CVD) and applications of of silicon and diamond.

Graphene and carbon nanotubes. 

Educational Technology.


Phillip was elected as Dean of Science & Engineering for October 2007 to March 2013 and subsequently appointed as Senior Dean of the University until the 30th July 2015. Phillip was Chair of several global University committees including the Quality & Standards Committee, Postgraduate Studies Committee, Discipline Committee and a longstanding member of the Ordinances & Regulations Joint Committee of Senate and Court. 

As Dean of Science and Engineering and Senior Dean of the University he has contributed to the establishment of campuses in Dubai and Malaysia and through his role as Chair of the Postgraduate Studies Committee and the University Quality and Standards Committee he has taken a pivotal role in assuring global academic standards. 

Teaching Interests

A range of courses in Physical Chemistry and the Chemistry of Materials has been taught in the Department of Chemistry covering all years (SCQF 7-10) in the BSc and MChem Degrees in Chemistry. All the modules were delivered digitally with full use of a virtual learning environment (VLE) and formative e-assessment within the ethos of active learning.  The modules were all highly rated by student evaluations. 

The Department of Chemistry has been placed within the top 5 UK Chemistry Department within the National Student Survey (NSS) for 5 years (2011 to 2016 inc.) and within the top 3 for Departments which were also submitted to the UK-wide research quality exercises RAE/REF.

Phillip enjoyed visiting secondary schools across Scotland talking to students and staff about the fantastic variety of carbon allotropes and the recent research on growing diamond in the laboratory. Startling experiments on burning diamond and growing a 'diamond' in a microwave oven were taken to lectures at the Edinburgh International Science Festival ... an important science outreach event for the general public.

Apart from his teaching, research and administrative duties he has been the Head of the Academic Development team for SCHOLAR since its inception in 1999 and, from 2003, been Executive Chair of the SCHOLAR Forum; a partnership between The Directors of Education in Scotland and Heriot-Watt University. SCHOLAR ( providing innovative web-based courses to all 32 Education Authorities (~ 400 schools), five within the College sector and 33 independent schools in Scotland.  SCHOLAR provides 37 complete Scottish Qualification Authority National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher STEM, Languages and Business subjects to over 130,000 student registrations and 10,000 teachers.  SCHOLAR is continuing to attract international attention as one of the world’s largest e-learning programmes for schools. SCHOLAR represented Scottish education at the 31st G8 Summit held on the 6-8th July 2005 at the Gleneagles Hotel in Auchterarder and hosted by Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Phillip has been the Vice-Chair and Chair, and a founding Board member, of the UK e-Assessment Association comprising the main awarding bodies and leading educational technology companies. 

SCHOLAR partnered with the Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER) to win the tender, in 2016, for the Scottish National Standardised Assessments.  The role of SCHOLAR was to provide a professional learning for teachers in Scotland; the national training programme has been extremely well received by teachers and authorities alike. Following retirement from Heriot-Watt in December 2018 Phillip took up a post as Senior Consultant to the Australian Council for Educational Research and was awarded an Honorary Professorship at the University of Edinburgh. He is also a member of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES).

Phillip was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2018 for 'services to education in Scotland'.


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