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John completed his first degree in chemistry in 2000 at Cardiff University of Wales. He was awarded a PhD from Queen Mary University London with Professor Christopher J. Richards in 2004. He then relocated to Japan where he worked as a JSPS postdoctoral research fellow with Professor Shū Kobayashi at the University of Tokyo. During his time in Japan, he met his future wife Rumi Fossey (née Matsumoto) with whom he had three children (Karen, Toby, and Edwin). John then returned to the UK from Japan in 2005 where he took up a temporary position at the University of Bath and pointedly in 2008 with Tony D. James and Steven D. Bull established the CAtalysis and SEnsing (CASE) Network. The first CASE networking meeting was held in Bath in December 2008 and has since been held at ECUST (China, 2009 host Xuhong Qian), The University of Birmingham (UK, 2011 host John S. Fossey), SIOC (China, 2012 host Shu-Li You), University of Texas at Austin (USA, 2013 hosts Eric V. Anslyn and Jonathan L. Sessler), Xiamen University (China, 2014 host Yun-Bao Jiang), The Royal College of Surgeons & Trinity College (Ireland, 2015 hosts Thorri Gunnlaugsson and Donal O’Shea), Shanghai Polytechnic University (China, 2017 host Yufang Xu), and Northwest A&F University (China, 2019 hosts Leyong Wang, Zhichao Pei, Yuxin Pei, and Xiao-Yu Hu).

John then moved to the University of Birmingham in 2008 where he rose through the ranks to become a professor of synthetic chemistry. Throughout his career John received many awards and honours, including a visiting professorship at Henan Normal University and guest professorship at East China University of Science and Technology. In addition, he received a JSPS Bridge Fellowship in 2010 and was chair of the JSPS alumni executive committee. John was a former industry fellow of the Royal Society and was jointly awarded the Daiwa Adrian Prize in 2013 with Seiji Shinkai, Tony D. James, Steven D. Bull, Kazuo Sakurai, and Yuji Kubo for research into 'chemonostics'. In 2016, John received the inaugural Czarnik Emerging Investigator Award for work on CAtalysis and SEnsing. While in 2018 he was awarded a CRUK Pioneer Award to support his research in establishing early detection potential from single-molecule chemosensors. More recently, John was the principal investigator of a JDRF project focused on translating boronic acid-mediated recognition to smart drug delivery for diabetes.

Throughout his career John was deeply involved with promoting Chemistry and this formed part of his lifelong commitment to promote CAtalysis and SEnsing research through international collaborations. In addition to his tireless energy for research he was also a devoted husband and father who was an enthusiastic mountain biker along with his wife and dogs.

John’s endless wit and boundless vitality will be sorely missed by all who knew him. Farewell our good friend, you can rest in peace knowing you were a very special person to many people far and near.

Empty-handed I entered the world

Barefoot I leave it.

My coming, my going —

Two simple happenings

That got entangled.

Kozan Ichikyo (1283–1360)


John S. Fossey pictured with Tony D. James in Korea 2007 (Itaewon drinking a Soju Kettle), Xiamen, in 2009 (Nanputuo Temple), Egypt in 2016 (the Sphinx), Japan in 2007 (Tokyo University), and Birmingham in 2015 (John’s office with view of Old Joe) just after submitting the introduction for the Royal Society of Chemistry book on Boron: Sensing, Synthesis and Supramolecular Self-Assembly.

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