Obituaries - D

Obituaries - D

Melvin Daft

Born on 19 January 1935, Dr Melvin Daft was educated at Welwyn Garden City Grammar School and the University of Exeter, where he graduated in Botany and subsequently obtained a PhD in 1961 and a DSc in 1978. He was appointed Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Botany in 1961 at what was then University College, Dundee, a constituent of the University of St Andrews. He was advanced to Lecturer in 1963, and after the establishment of the University of Dundee in 1968, was promoted Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences in 1973 and Reader in Botany in 1991. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1979. Read more about Melvin Daft

Baron Dainton of Hallam Moors

There can be few people who have had such a distinguished career in teaching, research and administration as Fred Dainton, culminating in his elevation to the peerage in 1986 and his appointment in 1978 as Chancellor of the University of his native Sheffield, an office which he filled with great distinction and which gave him more pleasure than any other of a long series of high-level appointments. A physical chemist of international renown, with more than 260 publications in the scientific journals, he was a man held in wide affection and respect. Read more about Lord Frederick Sydney Dainton

Jack Dainty

Jack Dainty, who has died aged 90, was a pioneer in the field of plant biophysics. As a trained physicist, he argued successfully, and sometimes against significant opposition, that the same sort of quantitative physical principles that had so successfully been applied to understanding how animals function could also be applied to plants. Dainty formulated some of the essential physical concepts that describe movement of ions and water into and through plant cells, and ultimately through the plant itself. These uniquely plant-related issues relate to drought and salt stress, and in the context of global warming, affect us all. Read more about Jack Dainty

Peter Hadland Davis

Born in Weston-Super-Mare in 1918, Peter Davis was educated first at Nash House, Burnham-on-Sea, and subsequently at Bradfield College and Maiden Erleigh, Reading. In 1937 he was apprenticed to Ingwersen's Alpine Plant Nursery at East Grinstead and it was during that time that his early interest in plants was nurtured, eventually to become an all-consuming passion which he continued until his death on the 5th of March 1992. In 1938 he began botanising as an amateur in the Middle East, including Turkey, but his work was interrupted by the outbreak of the second world war in 1939. During the period from the beginning of hostilities until 1945 he served in the armed forces, eventually spending the last two years of his service on special duties in Cairo. On release from His Majesty Forces he came to the University of Edinburgh to study botany and graduated with a First Class Honours BSc in the summer of 1949. This was the beginning of a distinguished academic career spent wholly in the Botany Department, broken up by numerous collecting trips to various parts of the world. Appointed Lecturer in Botany in 1950 he began a programme of research which led him and his research team inexorably forward to the completion of the Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands. However, between the initiation and completion of this major Flora lay much research and a colourful life. His PhD on the 'Taxonomy of Middle East flora' was awarded in 1952 and through the 1950s he travelled widely, collecting and exploring in Kurdistan, Russia, and various regions of the Middle East. In 1958 he was awarded the Cuthbert Peek Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for exploration in Kurdistan. Read more about Peter Hadland Davis

John Barry Dawson

It is with a mixture of sadness at his passing and joy at his memory that we pay tribute to Barry Dawson, an outstanding scientist and great man. Barry was passionate about igneous geology and volcanism, and undertook a lifelong quest to understand the mineralogical constitution of the Earth’s upper mantle and the processes required to yield the low-volume melts erupted in, for example, the African Rift Valley. This led him to carry out in-depth research on kimberlites and their xenoliths (rock samples carried from depth by magma), rift-related magmatism, and the geology, properties and genesis of carbonatite magmas. In all these areas he had a great ability to stimulate other workers with complementary skills and approaches. His work significantly developed these fields and improved our understanding of the nature of the mantle beneath the continents. Not only that, but his superb rock collection of mantle samples and East African Rift volcanic rocks will remain an outstanding resource for geoscientists for decades to come. In many ways Barry Dawson could be regarded as the ‘Indiana Jones’ of igneous petrology. His research took him to remote regions of Africa from where he returned with truly exceptional geological specimens (samples of kimberlite, carbonatite and numerous and diverse xenoliths) thanks to his excellent observational skills, and also many an amazing tale to recount. Read more about Barry Dawson. This obituary was previously published by the Geological Society.

Peter Brian Denyer

Peter Denyer was a unique combination of electronics engineer, distinguished academic, inventor, company CEO and multiple entrepreneur. He pioneered CMOS image sensor chips for many applications including, most famously, mobile phones.  He was the first academic to bring a Scottish University spin-out company to PLC (London Stock Exchange). To his students and close colleagues, he was an inspirational teacher and dynamic leader, a supportive and generous friend. Read more about Peter Denyer

William Dickson

William Dickson, always known as Bill, was born in St Abb's, Berwickshire, on 23rd January, 1905, the son of a lobster fisherman, and died at Lowestoft in his eighty-eighth year on 21st October 1992. He never ceased to be proud of his grandfather, his father and the other fishermen of the village, according them as much respect as he ever did to Niels Bohr, Max Born, C T R Wilson and other great scientists. For Bill, quality of character and mind, high ideals and standards were what really mattered, not origins or worldly success. He went to St Abb's School for some ten years, and expected that to be the end of his education. But his Dominie, Colin McCallum, had other ideas and persuaded the Director of Education to give him a place at the Berwickshire High School, Duns. McCallum's faith paid off handsomely: not only did Bill go on to Edinburgh University, but got a First in Chemistry. As important to him as the First that summer, through, was catching the biggest halibut in living memory (5½ stone, fetching £3 10s)! Read more about William Dickson

Robert Balson Dingle

Robert (‘Bob’) Dingle was born on March 26, 1926 in Manchester. He studied at Cambridge University (Tripos Part I 1945, Part II 1946) and began research in theoretical physics under the supervision of D R Hartree, earning a Ph.D from Cambridge in 1952 after spending the year 1947-1948 visiting Bristol under the supervision of Professors Mott and Fröhlich. Following research positions in Delft in the Netherlands and Ottawa in Canada, he was appointed to a Readership at the University of Western Australia. In June 1960 he arrived in St Andrews as the first occupant of the Chair of Theoretical Physics. Read more about Robert Dingle

Gordon Donaldson

Gordon Donaldson, eminent Scottish historian, prolific writer of international repute and HM Historiographer in Scotland, died in his eightieth year on 16 March 1993 at Cameron Hospital, Windygates, Fife. He bore with fortitude and courage the cancer which afflicted him. Born in Edinburgh on 13 April 1913, the third child and younger son of Magnus Donaldson and Rachel Swan, Donaldson was educated at Broughton Elementary School, 1918-21 (where a teacher's account of Alexander III's death at the cliffs near Kinghorn caught his imagination), and at the Royal High School, 1921-31, where his academic gifts were soon discernible. Author of over thirty books, innumerable articles and countless addresses, Donaldson made an outstanding, incalculable contribution to his subject. His volume in the Edinburgh History of Scotland (1965) remains the best general study of the period a generation after its publication; his Scottish Reformation (1960) broke fresh ground in its marshalling of source material; and All the Queen's Men (1983), which he jokingly described as 'unreadable', was a formidable prosopographical study of power and politics in Mary Stewart's Scotland. But it is his work as a record scholar, particularly his volumes of the Register of the Privy Seal, which confers on him a kind of immortality. Read more about Gordon Donaldson

Gordon Bryce Donaldson

Gordon Bryce Donaldson, FRSE, died in Glasgow on November 28, 2012, at the age of 71.  He was Professor of Applied Physics at the University of Strathclyde and a leading member of the worldwide applied superconductivity community.  Through most of his career he was deeply involved in the design of superconducting devices or SQUIDs and their many practical applications. Read more about Gordon Bryce Donaldson


Alexander Stuart Douglas

Professor Stuart Douglas, Physician, Scientist and Haematologist died on 15 November aged 77 years. He was born in Elgin on 2 October 1921. He achieved international acclaim for his work in elucidating the mechanisms of normal blood coagulation, the causation of abnormal bleeding and the various abnormalities which cause thrombosis. He played a key role in Medical Research Council committees which investigated the value of anticoagulants in preventing the recurrence of myocardial infarction and later with the Maryland Medical Research Institute where he investigated the role of antiplatelet agents in the prevention of recurrence of stroke and myocardial infarction. This work set the scene for modern management of these problems. Read more about Alexander Stuart Douglas

Kenneth James Dover

Kenneth James Dover was born in London on 11 March 1920, the cherished only child of Percy (Pop) and Dorothy Dover. Early brilliance in Greek at St. Paul’s school was followed by an outstanding performance as a student at Balliol College, Oxford with a first in both Mods (1940) and Greats (1947). The intervening years, 1940-1945, were occupied by army service in Egypt, Libya and Italy. After a relatively sheltered early life this was a fundamentally life-changing experience, and years afterwards Dover would still reminisce about the earthy attitudes – and language – of the men he met at that time. But he returned promptly to the seclusion of academic life, becoming a fellow at Balliol in 1948. This was soon after his marriage, which was to be long and conspicuously happy, to Audrey (Latimer) in March 1947. There were two children: Alan (born 1948) and Catherine (born 1950). Read more about Sir Kenneth Dover

Morrell Henry Draper

Morrell Draper was born in Adelaide, Australia, on the 10th July 1921. He was educated at St Peter’s College in Adelaide. Here he discovered science and one of the loves of his life, running. He ran for South Australia and I believe became the South Australia Champion at 440 yards. In 1944, he graduated M.B., B.S. from the University of Adelaide. He spent his residency as house surgeon at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. He was called up in 1945 and gazetted as Captain R.A.A.M.C., serving until 1946 when he was transferred to the reserve of officers. In 1949, he won an Australian National University Scholarship to study for a PhD in neurophysiology at Cambridge. There he joined the laboratory of Drs. Alan Hodgkin, Andrew Huxley, Richard Keynes, and Peter Lewis who were developing new techniques in their pioneering studies of the physiology of single axons. While in Cambridge, Morrell also worked with Silvio Weidmann in exploiting the use of microelectrodes to open a new chapter in heart electrophysiology by intracellular recording of ionic fluxes. Read more about Morrell Draper

Peter Mclaren Donald Duff

Donald Duff was born in Edinburgh on January 31, 1927. In many ways his professional career mirrored his itinerant schooldays in Scotland and England caused by his father’s peripatetic work as a personnel officer with the LNER. Donald attended six different schools before becoming a pupil at the Royal High School. From there, encouraged by his parents and Dr Mary Noble FRSE, a neighbour and a well-known plant pathologist, he entered the University of Edinburgh in 1944 with the intention of pursuing agriculture, but a year later he was called up and spent three years in the Fleet Air Arm before returning to the University to study geology. He graduated in 1951 with a First Class Honours degree and immediately joined the British Geological Survey where he was given the task of mapping the coalfields of Notts and Derby, thus forming the basis of his subsequent research career. Read more about Peter McLaren Donald Duff

Alan James Duncan

Professor Duncan died suddenly on July 9 1999 while on holiday with his wife in British Columbia. Alan Duncan was born on November 4 1938, at Kingston, near North Berwick, and was educated at North Berwick Primary and Secondary Schools. There were brief interludes in South Shields and Newcastle upon Tyne which left him rather disillusioned with the English education system! He went on to study Natural Philosophy, Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at the University of St Andrews, gaining a First Class Honours degree in Natural Philosophy in 1961, when he was awarded the Class medal and the Neil Arnott prize. In 1970 Alan was appointed lecturer in Physics at the University of Stirling. There he joined Hans Kleinpoppen’s Atomic Physics research group. Equally at home with both experimental and theoretical physics, he greatly enhanced the international reputation of Stirling in this area. He participated in and supervised the design, construction and operation of a metastable atomic hydrogen beam apparatus which was used to observe successfully for the first time the two-photon decay of metastable atomic hydrogen. Read more about Alan James Duncan

George Mackenzie Dunnet

George Mackenzie Dunnet, Emeritus Regius Professor of Natural History in the University of Aberdeen was born on 19th April 1928 in Caithness and died in Copenhagen on 11th September 1995. In true Scots tradition, he was a man of parts - a distinguished ecologist, an accomplished taxonomist, a gifted teacher and respected chairman of government committees, where he applied his deep understanding of ecology to practical and policy issues. Few academics have been more influential in showing the relevance of academic ecology to nature conservation, the North Sea oil industry and fish farming. His most enduring achievement, however, is the establishment of the field station (Culterty) of Aberdeen University’s Zoology Department, as a centre for postgraduate research and training in ecology. Read more about George Mackenzie Dunnet

John Valentine George Andrew Durnin

Professor of physiology at the University of Glasgow, John Durnin, who has died aged 84, was an international authority on the energy expended in a wide range of human activities and a book he co-authored is still the reference standard.
He and his small team made meticulous measurements on people engaged in various forms of work, leisure and household activities. Some of these measurements were made on workers themselves (eg miners, bricklayers, lumberjacks), but others were carried out on volunteers. Either way Durnin was usually able to combine his work with pleasure. Sometimes it was of great practical value to himself and family: eg persuading students to have their energy expenditure levels measured in his garden and house while digging, hoeing and sawing trees. Read more about John Durnin. First published in The Herald, Saturday 13 October 2007. Reproduced by permission of The Herald


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