Born in Jamaica, Geoff Palmer came to London as an immigrant in 1955. After attended evening classes to improve his qualifications, he entered Leicester, Edinburgh and Heriot Watt Universities, where he gained BSc, PhD and DSc degrees respectively. He worked at the Brewing Research Foundation on cereals and malted barley. He invented the barley abrasion process, pioneered the use of the Scanning Electron Microscope in the study of cereals in malting and was the first European to receive the American Society of Brewing Chemists award for research. He was involved in setting up the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling at Heriot Watt University. He is the author of many papers and books on grain science and the history of Slavery in the West Indies. He serves on the Boards of various charitable organisations. He is a Freeman of Midlothian and the Honorary Consul for Jamaica in Scotland. He was awarded the OBE in 2003 and a Knighthood in 2014 for his contributions to science, charity and human rights.