He was the Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) from March 2002 to September 2007.
Born in New Malden, Dalton was educated at Raynes Park County Grammar School and Queen Elizabeth College, University of London (now part of King's College London). He graduated in 1965, and went on to study at the University of Sussex with Professor John Postgate, obtaining his doctorate in 1968. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Purdue University and the University of Sussex before joining the University of Warwick in 1973 as a lecturer in Biological Sciences. He became a Professor in 1983. Dalton's main fields of interest concerned the physiology, genetics and biochemistry of organisms exhibiting methanotrophy. One of his main research interests was the particulate methane monooxygenase enzyme. His model organisms included Methylococcus capsulatus (Bath) and Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b.
He served as Chair of Biological Sciences at Warwick from 1999 to 2002 before being appointed to DEFRA. He returned full-time to the University in October 2007, and continued working there until his death.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1993, was President of the Society for General Microbiology from 1997 to 2000, and was awarded the Leeuwenhoek medal lecture of the Royal Society in 2000. He was named a Knight Bachelor in the 2007 New Years Honours list . He was President of the Marine Biological Association from 2007 to 2008. He died suddenly in Royal Leamington Spa on 12 January 2008.
- Warwick Connect (Alumni newsletter), 2008 Spring Issue
- Obituary in the Daily Telegraph: Professor Sir Howard Dalton