Roy Johnston received his BA (1983) and D.Phil. (1986) from the University of Oxford, where he was a member of St. Catherine's College. His D.Phil., on theoretical aspects of cluster molecules, was carried out under the supervision of Professor Mike Mingos, FRS. From 1987-89, he was a SERC/NATO postdoctoral fellow in the U.S.A., spending a year each at Cornell University (working with Professor Roald Hoffmann (Nobel laureate) on theoretical solid state chemistry) and the University of Arizona (working with Professor Dennis Lichtenberger on gas phase and surface photoelectron spectroscopy).
He returned to the U.K. in 1989 as a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Sussex, where he collaborated with Professor John Murrell on the development and application of many-body potentials for modelling clusters, surfaces and solids. He was appointed to a lectureship in inorganic chemistry at the University of Birmingham in 1995 and was promoted to senior lecturer in 2002 and reader in 2003. He was appointed Professor of Computational Chemistry in 2006.
Roy's research spans the fields of computational nanoscience and nature-inspired computation. Examples include the study of elemental and bimetallic clusters, the application of genetic and other nature-inspired algorithms to optimisation problems in chemistry and physics (e.g. protein folding, self-assembly, nanoparticle structure optimisation and structure solution from powder X-ray diffraction data), and developing techniques for visualising and analysing the complexity of energy landscapes. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and is a past secretary of the RSC Theoretical Chemistry Group