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Tony Fraser

Staff picture: Tony Fraser
Environmental and Biochemical Sciences
Environmental and Biochemical Sciences
Honorary Associate
+44 (0)1224 395104

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


Tony Fraser is an Honorary Associate of the Institute, previously an infrared spectroscopist working in the infrared (IR) Section of the Soil Chemistry and Mineralogy sub-group of the Environmental and Biochemical Sciences group. He joined the institute in 1965 as a member of Colin Farmer’s infrared spectroscopy team to work on the IR analysis of clay minerals and soil organic matter which resulted in co-authorship of more than 70 publications. He became Head of the IR section in 1990 then retired in 2003 and during the latter period established and developed the IR spectroscopic analysis of commercial samples as a source of external income.

He then joined Macaulay Enterprises Ltd (MEL), a former commercial wing of the institute, in 2004, on a part-time basis, to promote and expand the business potential of FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared) analysis of commercial samples. In 2008 MEL was disbanded and he re-joined the Institute, continuing to work on the FTIR analysis of commercial samples in the IR section.

Past research

Tony has played an integral part of the study of a wide range of research topics spanning several decades which involve the use of IR spectroscopy and has developed considerable expertise in the interpretation of IR spectra of soil inorganic and organic compounds.

His main area of research has been the application of IR spectroscopy to the characterisation of clay minerals, soil organic matter and amorphous soil mineral components, together with the investigation of surface properties of iron oxy-hydroxide and aluminium hydroxide.

The value of the use of IR spectroscopy was demonstrated by his contribution to solving the structure of imogolite, an alumino-silicate with a tubular morphology which was found in volcanic pumice deposits and in podzolic soil horizons and resulted in several publications about the chemical mechanisms involved in the podzolisation process. As a result of information from the IR spectroscopic study, imogolite was successfully synthesised at the Institute and resulted in several collaborative publications with overseas research workers.

He also made a significant contribution in the study of soil organic matter in aqueous media over a wide pH range, using IR spectroscopy to provide information on the protonation reactions of organic functional groups associated with humic molecules.


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.