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Richard Cogdell

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 Richard’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 (see McDermot et al., 1995). Since then, Richard has been collaborating with both experimental physicists and chemists, and several theoreticians to capitalise on this structural information and understand the full molecular details of the energy transfer reactions that take place during light harvesting.

He is now increasingly 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. This work involves a wide range of collaborations both within the University of Glasgow, and in the USA, Japan, Germany, Poland and Italy.


President of the International Society for Photosynthesis Research, 2013.

Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, 2011.

Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, 2009.

Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, 2009.

Adjunct Professor of Ma Chung University - Indonesia, 2008.

Elected 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

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

A. Löhner et al, “The origin of the split B800 absorption peak in the LH2 complexes from Allochromatium vinosum,” Photosynth. Res., vol. 123, no. 1, pp. 23-31, Jan. 2015.

S. R. Beyer 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, vol. 119, no. 4, pp. 1362-1373, Jan. 2015.

C. D. Fyfe 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., vol. 71, no. 7, pp. 1478-1486, July 2015.

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


R. J. Cogdell et al, "The structure of purple bacterial antenna complexes," in Photosynthetic Protein Complexes: A Structural Approach, P. Fromme, Ed. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH, 2008, pp. 325-339.

C. J. Law et al, "How purple bacteria harvest light energy," in Energy Harvesting Materials, D. L. Andrews, Ed. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 2005, pp. 65-96.

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



Advisory Committee Chair Bio-inspired Solar Energy


University of GlasgowInstitute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology


PhD (Biochemistry) University of Bristol

BSc (Biochemistry, Hons) University of Bristol


United Kingdom

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