Obituaries - F

Obituaries - F

Douglas Scott Falconer

Professor Douglas Falconer was Emeritus Professor of Genetics, and formerly Professor of Genetics, Head of the Department of Genetics and Director of the AFRC Unit of Animal Genetics at the University of Edinburgh. He made major contributions to the understanding of the genetics of quantitative traits through his research, teaching and writing, notably his book ‘Introduction to Quantitative Genetics’, and was elected FRSE in 1972 and FRS in 1973. He was born in Old Meldrum, Aberdeenshire on 10 March 1913, and died in Edinburgh on 23 February, 2004, aged 90. Read more about Douglas Falconer

Colin Farmer

Colin Farmer was a brilliant innovative scientist who, in research spanning 60 years, pioneered the use of infrared spectroscopy in mineralogy, particularly its application to clay mineralogy, and additionally made many outstanding contributions to soil science in the field of both inorganic and organic geochemistry. With the exception of a short period immediately after his retirement in 1983, his entire research career was spent at the Macaulay Institute in Aberdeen where, unencumbered by administrative duties, he produced a steady stream of high-quality original papers throughout his working life. Read more about Colin Farmer

William Ewart John Farvis

Ewart Farvis was born on 12th December 1911 in Bristol and educated there at the bluecoat school, Queen Elisabeth’s Hospital. On leaving school he served a four-year engineering apprenticeship. He entered Bristol University with a Merchant Venturers’ Scholarship, graduating BSc(Eng) in 1936 with First Class Honours in Electrical Engineering and was awarded the Institution of Electrical Engineers Prize for the best student in the class. He was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1958. He was awarded a CBE in 1978 and, towards the end of his career (1987) he was elected to an Honorary Fellowship of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. Read more about William Ewart John Farvis

Peter Berners Fellgett

Peter Berners Fellgett, emeritus Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, died peacefully in his sleep in November 2008 at his home in Cornwall. PBF, or πΦ as he liked to be known, was the first Professor of Cybernetics in the UK, having been appointed in 1964 into what became the Department of Applied Physical Sciences, which later became the Departments of Cybernetics and Engineering. He was responsible for gathering a group of academics including Peter Atkinson, Paddy Walker, Alex Andrew, George Whitfield, John Seeley, Mike Usher, Arthur Allen, John Foley-Fisher and George Reynolds, being specialists in control, computing, artificial intelligence, instrumentation, electronics and aspects of human biology. They developed the degrees which were eventually called Cybernetics & Control Engineering, Cybernetic Science, Computer Science and Cybernetics and Psychology and Cybernetics - whose cybernetic content was consistent with Wiener's definition: control and communication in the animal and the machine. They were responsible for numerous research projects and, unusually at the time, for collaboration with industry. When he retired in 1987, these degrees and the Department still existed, despite the fact that the subject of cybernetics had become unfashionable. Since then, Cybernetics at Reading has been able to flourish, thanks to a new set of academics including his successor Kevin Warwick, but building on what Peter and others had established. Read more about Peter Fellgett.
This obituary was produced by Dr Richard Mitchell, Senior Lecturer in Cybernetics, University of Reading
(with comments from Dr Alex Andrew). First published by the University of Reading. Reproduced with permission from Dr Richard Mitchell

Alexander (Sandy) Fenton

Sandy Fenton was among the very greatest scholars of the Ethnology and Antiquities of Scotland of this age - or of any age. For 15 years he was a member of the Ancient Monuments Board for Scotland, from 1979 to 1994. My wife was one of the Board members, and they had the civilised habit of allowing paying spouses to come on their annual expeditions to those parts of Scotland well endowed with antiquities. Thus I saw at first hand Sandy Fenton's charming erudition, which was a marvel of serious scholarship to us all. Indelibly etched on my memory is Fenton's explanation of life at the Black House at 42 Arnol in the north end of the Island of Lewis. His written description, first published in 1978 and reissued in 1989, is the greatest record of a way of life that once dominated so much of the Highlands and Islands. Read more about Sandy Fenton. This obituary first appeared in The Indepentent on 15 May 2012. Reproduced with permission from The Independent

Anne Ferguson (Mrs Anne Collee)

Anne Ferguson was born in Glasgow in 1941. She died of an unsuspected pancreatic adenocarcinoma on 21 December 1998. Her colleagues were shattered by the sudden most untimely loss of this wonderful person and this great spirit. Anne qualified BSc with Honours in Physiology at Glasgow University in 1960, and then MB, ChB in 1964 with Honours and with the Brunton Medal (awarded to the outstanding medical graduate of the year). After her early clinical training posts at the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, she did research for her PhD degree with Dr Delphine Parrott in the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology at the Western Infirmary, Glasgow. Here she developed her early pioneering studies on cell-mediated immune systems in the intestinal mucosa that led to her important contributions to our knowledge of coeliac disease and Crohn’s disease. She successfully exploited the technique of whole-gut lavage for this work and she did parallel pioneering research on the phenomenon of oral tolerance whereby foreign antigens in the gut might suppress rather than activate some arms of the immune system. Read more about Anne Ferguson

Charles Arthur Fewson

Charles Fewson was born on September 8 1937 in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He was proud of his Yorkshire heritage and could trace his ancestry back to the 17th century. His family had been tenant farmers for generations and he was brought up on Stud Farm near Aldbrough, East Yorkshire, where his father was tenant farmer. Life was not easy on the farm. Mains water was installed a few months after the Fewson family moved there but bathing was in a tin tub in the kitchen until a bathroom with a gas geyser was installed around 1947. Light was provided by paraffin lamps or candles until about 1950, when a petrol generator was installed, followed by mains electricity around 1954. One of Charles’ tasks throughout his childhood was to scour hedge rows for firewood for the house. During school holidays from the age of 12 until 17 he worked on the farm more or less full-time, feeding poultry, cattle and pigs and working in the fields. Nevertheless, he was greatly protected compared to many of his country-raised contemporaries. In those days, many boys left school at the earliest opportunity, often at the age of 12, and were hired out to farmers, living with the employer. Read more about Charles Arthur Fewson

John Robert Stanley Fincham

The death of John Robert Stanley Fincham on February 9th 2005 marked the passing of an exceptional academic who will be remembered for his extraordinary dedication and intellectual contribution to science, most particularly to genetics. Read more about John Robert Stanley Fincham

Adam Fleck

Adam Fleck, who died on 31 July 2015, was a major contributor to the understanding of plasma protein metabolism. From 1979 to 1996 he was Professor of Chemical Pathology at Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School and head of the NHS Department of Riverside Health District. Born and raised in Glasgow, After a First Class Honours degree in biochemistry he qualified in medicine in 1958 and then joined the Biochemistry Department of Glasgow University, working with H N Munro. There he developed methods of measuring both synthesis and degradation rates of albumin in health and disease, and showed that serum albumin concentrations indicated only the severity of any concurrent illness by reflecting redistribution of the protein from the vascular to the extravascular compartment. Later he worked with Sir David Cuthbertson on the metabolic response to trauma and nutrition support and became a co-founder of the UK Surgical Metabolic Group and the MRC “Paper Institute” on trauma research, later the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. Learn more about Adam Fleck

Roger Fletcher

Roger Fletcher was one of the world’s leading numerical analysts. He was best known for his work in optimization, where he made many innovative and fundamentally important contributions. He also wrote numerous computer programmes based on methods which he developed, and many of these are widely used. Optimization (also referred to as mathematical programming) is essentially concerned with the calculation of the best or optimal values of a number of variables over a range of possibilities. Therefore it is a field which crosses subject boundaries and has many applications, for example to the improvement of drug design, the minimization of production costs, the maximization of power output, the determination of the lowest energy configuration. As a consequence, Roger’s work was known, appreciated and widely used across science, engineering and business. Read more about Roger Fletcher

William Whigham Fletcher

Professor Bill Fletcher was a well-known figure in the world of academia and beyond. He stood above most of his contemporaries in most things, as a larger-than-life character whose achievements, intellect and influence were quite simply outstanding, if not phenomenal, for his generation. Students at Strathclyde University, where he spent most of his career, recognised him as one of their own, always willing to listen to their grievances and to right them where appropriate. Read more about William Whigham Fletcher

Edward Howel Francis

Short, rugged, determined, and with a marvellously strong head of hair, Howel Francis stood out from the crowd. Born and brought up by his mother, the landlady of a public house in Cwmavon, South Wales, he noted that his childhood consisted of ‘learning much about people, but little of science’. Inspired by his Port Talbot school teacher, W.J. Cosgrove, a keen amateur geologist, he entered the University College Swansea (now Swansea University) in 1942 to study Geology. Neville George was his professor. He was called up for military service after two years, commissioned in the Cheshire Regiment and served in the Mediterranean. He returned to complete his degree in geology in 1949 under Professor Duncan Leitch, George having been appointed to the Chair of Geology in Glasgow in 1947. Francis was appointed to the British Geological Survey at the Edinburgh office in 1949 and joined that great geological digs commune known by most geologists in Scotland as The Warren, run by the Misses Cameron at Mayfield Terrace. That’s when our long friendship began in 1949. Read more about Howel Francis

Sir Campbell Fraser; an Appreciation

Sir Campbell Fraser FRSE, who died on 27 April, shortly before his 84th birthday, was one of the leading industrialists of his generation. As Chairman of one of the UK’s largest manufacturing companies from 1977 until 1983, he helped to navigate British industry through a period when conditions were particularly hostile. As President of the Confederation of British Industry during the early years of the Thatcher Government, he provided a quality of national leadership which, although controversial, was much needed. Read more about Sir Campbell Fraser

Sir Ian Fraser

The son of a doctor, Ian Fraser was born in Belfast on 9 February 1901. He was educated there at the Royal Academical Institution, and Queen’s University, where he graduated with a first class degree in 1923. Awarded his MCh in 1927 and his MD in 1932, he took first place in Ireland when he gained the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland in 1926, becoming FRCS the following year. His extensive postgraduate experience included study at Guy’s and Middlesex Hospitals in London, the Hôtel Dieu and Hôpital Necker in Paris and the Allgemeines Krankenhaus in Vienna. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1939.Read more about Sir Ian Fraser

Kenneth Boyd Fraser

Kenny Fraser was a noted virologist who had a distinguished military record during the Second World War. He graduated in medicine from Aberdeen University in 1940 and joined the RAMC in 1941. He was posted to the Chin Hills in Burma where British and Indian troops together with forces from the local Highlanders, were holding outposts near Japanese emplacements. In 1943, he was awarded the MC for gallantry in the rescue under heavy fire of an injured sepoy whom he carried to safety – and to recovery – over exceedingly difficult terrain for a mile and a half. In retirement, he published privately, a memoir of his time there entitled, rather intriguingly, “Don’t believe a Word of it!”. Despite the apparent frivolity of the title, this is a factual and fascinating account of an area of the world and its village peoples which few can now have the opportunity to see. The book is dedicated to the Chin Highlanders with whom he served. Read more about Kenneth Boyd Fraser

David Patrick Frisby

David Frisby’s clear, intelligent, and persuasive voice will be missed across many fields of scholarly endeavour.  As the only son of a coppersmith and his wife, David was born into modest circumstances in Sheffield in 1944.  An outstanding grammar school career led to employment as a management trainee for the National Coal Board, which in turn led to a Coal Board-funded scholarship to study sociology at the LSE.  Although destined for a starry academic career, David at no point lost his attachment to his roots, and happily recounted tales of a series of improbable summer jobs, which saw him painting coal trucks black and learning the tricks of bus conducting from old hands in the Chesterfield depot. Read more about David Frisby


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