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Chairman, FJSS Group

Professor Sir Geoff Palmer OBE

Sir Godfrey Henry Oliver Palmer OBE, who is affectionately known as Sir Geoff, is a Professor Emeritus in the School of Life Sciences and the first Black Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Sir Geoff, who has been FJSS Group chairman since February 2019, says the work the organisation does on human rights is close to his heart and immensely aides his passion for human rights activism.

He is a scientist and researcher of great repute who was the first person to discover and pioneer the barley abrasion process whilst working as a researcher at the Brewing Research Foundation from 1968 to 1977. In 1998, Sir Geoff became only the fourth person, and the first European, to be honoured with the American Society of Brewing and Chemistry Award of Distinction (DSc) that is considered to be the Nobel Peace Prize of brewing. In the same year, Sir Geoff became the first Black professor in Scotland, becoming a professor emeritus after he retired in 2005, and was knighted by the late Queen Elizabeth II in the 2014 New Year Honours.

Sir Geoff is on the boards of several other organisations where his wisdom is tapped into, and he chaired the Scottish Government-appointed Steering Group to look into the diversity and inclusiveness of the museums and galleries sector in Scotland. He also chaired the City of Edinburgh Council’s Review Group to look into the links between the city’s economic development and colonialism and slavery. In November 2022 Sir Geoff was awarded the prestigious Edinburgh Award 2022 for his work in human rights and racial diversity and inclusion. 

Sir Geoff lives with his wife Maggie with whom he has grown up children and a number of grandchildren.