A prominent British geneticist, doctor and psychiatrist.
After earning a degree from the University of Cambridge, Penrose spent a year working in their experimental psychology laboratory. In 1926 he enrolled to study medicine at St Thomas's Hospital. Five years later he started his first major research project studying patients suffering from mental deficiency. Over the next seven years his team examined 1280 patients along with 6629 of their parents and siblings.
In 1939 Penrose moved to Canada, becoming Director of Psychiatric Research and Medical Statistician for the Province of Ontario. He developed non-verbal intelligence and pattern-perception tests by studying over 8000 cases of psychiatric disorder. He also investigated the relationship between mental illness and criminal behaviour.
After the Second World War he returned to England and was appointed Professor of Eugenics at the Galton Laboratory and Consultant Geneticist to University College Hospital, London. He later dropped the term eugenics because of its negative connotations and changed the laboratory's name to the Department of Human Genetics and Biometry.
During the 1950s Penrose, with his son, Roger Penrose, devised the Penrose triangle, an 'impossible' figure which cannot exist. The triangle was inspired by the drawings of the artist Escher, who later incorporated it into some of his works.