Prof Oliver Headley

Chemist and Solar Scientist

“The sun will still shine when the oil runs out”

Professor Oliver Headley was a scientist from Barbados who was well known internationally for his work on solar energy and his efforts to promote alternative energy sources.

Headley displayed a very curious and creative mind as a child. He took apart his toys to find out what made them work and discovered new ways of putting them back together. He even designed rockets during these experiments!

He attended Harrison’s College, a leading boys’ high school in Barbados and later studied physics and chemistry at the University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica. Not just a study-buff, he participated in sports and was an avid player on the university’s water polo team. He obtained his doctorate in chemistry from the University College, London.

He started his career in academia as a lecturer in chemistry at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine, Trinidad. A fine educator and researcher, he advanced through the ranks to become a professor. After many years, he returned to Barbados to work at the Cave Hill campus of the UWI where he headed the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES).

Headley was a leading advocate in the Caribbean region of the use of alternative energy sources to oil. He warned, “The sun will still shine when the oil runs out”, and investigated various ways of using solar energy. His research led to the manufacture of solar cells for producing electricity, solar dryers for wood and agricultural produce, and solar stills for water distillation. Some of these devices were built by Headley himself, and were used in Barbados and other parts of the Caribbean and Central America.

Headley was recognized regionally and internationally for his expertise on solar energy. He once served as Director of the International Solar Energy Society and received many awards for his work.

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