Robert Hill FRS, known as Robin Hill, was a British plant biochemist who, in 1939, demonstrated the 'Hill reaction' of photosynthesis, proving that oxygen is evolved during the light requiring steps of photosynthesis. He also made significant contributions to the development of the Z-scheme of oxygenic photosynthesis.
Hill was born in New Milverton, a suburb of Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. He was educated at Bedales School, where he became interested in biology and astronomy, and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he read natural sciences, specialising in chemistry. During the First World War he served in the Anti-gas Department of the Royal Engineers.
In 1922 he joined the Department of Biochemistry at Cambridge where he was directed to research hemoglobin. He published a number of papers on hemoglobin, and in 1926 he began to work with David Kellin on the haem containing protein cytochrome c. In 1932 he commenced work on plant biochemistry, focusing on photosynthesis and the oxygen evolution of chloroplasts, leading to the discovery of the 'Hill reaction'.
From 1943 Hill's work was funded by the Agricultural Research Council, although he remained working in the Cambridge Biochemistry Department. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1946. Hill continued to receive most recognition for his work on photosynthesis and from the late 1950s his work concentrated on the energetics of photosynthesis. Working with Fay Bendall he made his second great contribution to photosynthesis research. In 1960 Bendall and Hill discovered the 'Z scheme' of electron transport. He was awarded the Royal Medal in 1963, and the Copley Medal in 1987.