Keith was born to Sir Christopher Ingold and Lady Hilda Usherwood in Leeds, England. Both his parents were physical organic chemists, so Keith was destined to become one as well. He completed his BSc in Chemistry in 1949 at University College London where his father was Head of the Department. Upon obtaining his PhD in Chemistry from Oxford University at the age of 22, he emigrated to Canada to take a position at the National Research Council in Ottawa, followed by two years of postdoctoral research at the University of British Columbia. He was drawn there not by the science but by the mountains. Keith had taken up downhill skiing in Ottawa and expected skiing, as well as climbing, to be better around Vancouver. He returned to work at the NRC in 1955 as a Research Officer, and later was promoted to Head of the Free Radical Chemistry Section. He met his future wife, Cairine Hodgkin in July on a raft in the middle of a small lake in the Quebec hills just north of Ottawa. They built a home overlooking the Rideau River, a 25-minute drive from work and more importantly only a 5-minute drive from Cairine’s golf club. He remained at the NRC for the rest of his career and finally retired at the age of 87.
During his second tenure with NRC, Keith was also an Adjunct Research Professor in the Faculty of Science at Carleton University. There he trained and mentored students in the Department of Chemistry, many of whom reference him fondly in their thesis and credit him for the lasting positive impact he had on their professional and personal lives.
During his life, he won many accolades including the American Chemistry Society Petroleum Chemistry Award, Linus Pauling Award, Royal Society of London Davy Medal, ACS Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, ACS James Flack Norris Award, Officer of the Order of Canada, Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, Royal Society (London) Royal Medal, Gold Medal “Angelo Mangini” of the Organic Chemistry Division of the Italian Chemical Society, Royal Society (London) Sir Derek Barton Gold Medal. He was awarded honourary doctorates from the University of St. Andrews Scotland, University of Ancona Italy, Universities of Dalhousie, Guelph, Carleton, Mount Allison and McMaster. Dr. Ingold and his colleagues made outstanding contributions to international science by quantifying free-radical chemistry, enabling him to apply his findings in new ways that have had considerable impact on the petroleum and plastics industries. Best known for his work on the application of the chemistry of free radicals in living organisms—specifically the human body—his investigations into the role of oxidation in the aging process have pioneered the understanding of the role of Vitamin E as an antioxidant in medicine and health.
Keith and Cairine loved to travel and were always on the go, attending chemistry conferences, lecturing at universities, visiting colleagues and friends. Summers were spent at home, Cairine of the golf course and Keith waterskiing on the Rideau River. Keith and Cairine opened their hearts and home to students, postdocs and professors alike who were attracted from all corners of the world to train or to work with Keith. There were celebrations at Thanksgiving and at Christmas time. Throughout Keith’s career, he taught countless students, postdocs and visitors to waterski. Keith and Cairine had a unique ability to bring people together and build enduring friendships with people all over the world that would last a lifetime. Keith will be remembered not only for his research works and success, but also for his warmth and kindness, and his adventurous and fun-loving nature. He will be greatly missed by family, friends and colleagues, and by the countless students he inspired and mentored over the course of his career.
Two former students, Leanne Bedard and Manlio Alessi, established this scholarship in honour of his contributions and his dedication to training chemistry students, and to mark the enduring impact that knowing Keith has had in their lives. The Dr. Keith U. Ingold Memorial Scholarship will support outstanding undergraduate students in the Department of Chemistry as a lasting legacy to his memory.