William Stanley Pierpoint

Born 1930, died 2013. A graduate of the Department of Chemistry.

Stan was research biochemist who’s BSc and PhD degrees from Sheffield University provided the solid basis for a distinguished career of 36 years mainly at Rothamsted Experimental Station (now Rothamsted Research), the agricultural research institution in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, which he joined in 1954. Stan studied proteins, viruses and organelles, extracted mainly from mature green leaves, and was the first to isolate intact, functional mitochondria.

Born in Stoke-on-Trent, the son of Ann and William Pierpoint, Stan completed his schooling at Morecambe Grammar School, Lancashire, in 1948 and was much influenced by a biology teacher, Mrs Pearsall. However, he studied chemistry for his BSc in Sheffield from 1948-51, obtaining a first: it seems that he was fascinated early by the atomic/molecular scale and mechanisms. There he was one of the first students to occupy the - then new – Stephenson Hall of residence. A grant from the Medical Research Council for a PhD followed to work in the Unit for Research in Cell Metabolism in Sheffield with Hans Krebs - he of the eponymous metabolic cycle in the mitochondria and Nobel Prize Laureate in 1953 (knighted in 1958). There Stan studied enzymes and metabolism mainly in bacteria.

Stan was a man of great integrity, pursuing his interests with rigour, persistence and eloquence to the great benefit of the subject and to science generally and the intellectual life of Rothamsted in particular. He was always courteous, helpful and positive to students and younger scientists and the more established. He is survived by Maureen, whom he married in 1957, their children, Judith and Nicholas, and five grandchildren, to whom he was inspirational and caring.