Richard Cogdell


  • Advisory Committee Chair
  • Bio-inspired Solar Energy


  • Glasgow University
Institute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology


  • United Kingdom


PhD (Biochemistry), University of Bristol
BSc (Biochemistry, Hons), University of Bristol


Since the early 1970s, Richard Cogdell has been involved in research on bacterial photosynthesis.

His work has increasingly focused on the early events of photosynthesis, light harvesting and energy transfer, and the structure and function of the pigment-protein complexes involved in these processes. A wide variety of experimental approaches have been used, including protein crystallography, fs and ps spectroscopy, single molecule spectroscopy and
molecular biology. However, it was protein crystallography in 1995 that allowed Cogdell’s research group, in collaboration with two other groups, to determine the three-dimensional structure of a light-harvesting complex from the purple bacterium, Rhodopseudomas acidophila. Since then, Cogdell has collaborated with theoreticians and experimental physicists and chemists, to capitalize on this structural information and understand the full molecular details of the energy transfer reactions that take place during light harvesting.

Increasingly, Cogdell is concentrating on using the information gained from his structural and functional studies on the purple bacterial pigment-protein complexes to devise ways of using solar energy to produce fuels. To this end, he was a co-founder of the Glasgow Solar Fuels Initiative, which involves a wide range of collaborations both within the University of Glasgow and in the United States, Japan, Germany, Poland and Italy.


President of the International Society for Photosynthesis Research, 2013

Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, 2011

Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, 2009

Adjunct Professor of Ma Chung University, Indonesia, 2008

Fellow of the Royal Society, 2007

Adjunct Professor of Chinese National Academy of Sciences for Biophysics, Beijing, 2007

Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1991

Relevant Publications

Connolly, J.P. et al. “The host metabolite D-serine contributes to bacterial niche specificity through gene selection.” ISME J 9, no. 4 (April 2015): 1039-1051.

Löhner, A. et al. “The origin of the split B800 absorption peak in the LH2 complexes from Allochromatium vinosum.” Photosynth. Res. 123, no. 1 (January 2015): 23–31.

Beyer, S.R. et al. “The open, the closed, and the empty: time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy and computational analysis of RC-LH1 complexes from Rhodopseudomonas palustris.” J. Phys. Chem. B. 119, no. 4 (January 2015): 1362–1373.

Fyfe, C.D. et al. “Structure of protease-cleaved Escherichia coli [alpha]-2-macroglobulin reveals a putative mechanism of conformational activation for protease entrapment.” Acta Crystallogr., Sect. D: Biol. Crystallogr. 71, no. 7 (July 2015): 1478–1486.

Perlík, V. et al. “Vibronic coupling explains the ultrafast carotenoid-to-bacteriochlorophyll energy transfer in natural and artificial light harvesters.” J.Chem. Phys. 142, no. 21 (June 2015): 212434.

Cogdell, R.J. et al. "The structure of purple bacterial antenna complexes." In Photosynthetic Protein Complexes: A Structural Approach, edited by P. Fromme, 325–39. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH, 2008.

Law, C.J. et al. "How purple bacteria harvest light energy." In Energy Harvesting Materials, edited by D.L. Andrews, 65–69. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 2005.

Frank, H.A. et al, eds. The Photochemistry of Carotenoids. Arizona: Springer Science+Business Media, B.V., 1999.