James Henderson Sang, who died on February 10th 2002, was born in Aberdeen to Scottish parents of slender means on November 4th, 1912. He received his secondary education at Robert Gordon’s College, at a time when no biology was taught at school and science teaching, apart from chemistry, was very general. His interest in biology was encouraged by membership of the Aberdeen and District Working Mens’ Natural History Society, whose ardent naturalists made regular forays into the countryside in search of insects, birds and plants. Naturally enough, in the Scottish context, he headed for Aberdeen University and a First Class Honours degree in Zoology in 1933. During his undergraduate career he was greatly influenced by working with Professor J. R. Macleod, Nobel Laureate of insulin fame, who, being arthritic, enlisted the assistance of able students. He profited also from the wide-ranging biological knowledge of James Ritchie, who occupied the Regius Chair of Natural History. Learn more about James Henderson Sang
Dr Richard Lorraine de Chasteney Holbourne Saunders died December 21, 1995 at his home in West Jeddore, Nova Scotia. He was predeceased by his wife, Dr Sarah Cameron (Moya). Both had roots in the Highlands of Scotland. Richard was born to Col F A Saunders FRCS and Mrs Lucy Saunders (née Meiklejohn), on the 29th of May, 1908, at Grahamstown, Cape Province, Union of South Africa. He received his undergraduate education there. His medical education began at Rhodes University, after which he attended Edinburgh University, graduating in 1932 with MB, ChB. He earned a postgraduate degree of MD for work on Spina Bifida in 1940. Learn more about Richard Saunders
Professor 'Dick' Say, Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Heriot-Watt College, Edinburgh, for thirty years, died on 14th November 1992, aged 90. He was born in London on June 8th, 1902, the second son of Henry Robert Say and Elizabeth Sarah Say (née Eckersall). He completed his schooling at Colfe's Grammar School, and entered the Imperial College, London, where he studied Electrical Engineering under that great triumvirate, Professors T Mather, G W O Howe and S Parker Smith, graduating in 1921 with First Class Honours in the BSc (Engineering). His postgraduate studies established his lifelong interests in electrical machinery; his MSc was on the subject of AC Commutator Machines, his PhD, also from the Imperial College, considered Railway Electrification, upon which he collaborated with Sir Philip Dawson, Electrical Engineer to the LBSC Railway, and upon which he published a number of papers. Learn more about Maurice George Say
David Sharp was born in Folkestone, Kent on 8th October 1931. Although his young life was disrupted by evacuation from Folkestone during World War 2, his early years were happy, secure and characterised by obvious academic ability. He completed National Service before going up to read Natural Sciences at Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge; he always maintained that his prior army service was an excellent preparation for the rigours of academic life. After completion of his first degree, he embarked on PhD research supervised by A (Alan) G Sharpe in the area of complex ternary fluorides, an interest that he was to follow, together with other lines of research within the chemistry of the element fluorine, for many years. Read more about David Sharp
John Sharpe, formerly Reader in Physics and Applied Physics at Strathclyde University, died on 14th August, 1997, after a long illness. He was born in Stenhousemuir on 21st October, 1916. He attended Falkirk High School and having won a bursary to Glasgow University, graduated in 1939, after a distinguished undergraduate career, with First Class Honours in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. As a result of this he was awarded a Ferguson Scholarship to pursue postgraduate studies at St John's College, Cambridge but the outbreak of war prevented him from taking this up and he was appointed, on a temporary basis, to an Assistant Lectureship at the Royal Technical College, Glasgow. In 1940 he was directed to the Admiralty as a Scientific Officer. After two years in mine design he became an original member of the team working on procedures for demagnetising ships to prevent them detonating ever-new types of magnetic mines. For the Admiralty he wrote some nineteen reports of a classified nature. He was for two years after his release from war-work a Lecturer in Natural Philosophy in the University of Aberdeen under R V Jones. He moved into industry in 1947, taking a post as physicist with Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd in the Research Department of the General Chemical Division at Runcorn. There he was engaged in pioneering work on electron microscopy. He spoke on the use of the instrument for the examination of airborne dusts at an International Conference in Delft, and was the first to photograph the parasite Trypanosoma Congolense, which allowed the company to develop a vaccine for sleeping sickness in African cattle. During this period he published his first papers in the open literature. Learn more about John Walker Sharpe
Dame Sheila was born in Ireland and educated at Folkestone Grammar School. When she graduated from Edinburgh University with honours in 1941 she was the Ettles Scholar of her year and went on to spend a year as clinical assistant to Sir James Learmonth in Edinburgh. She moved to London and worked at the Hammersmith Hospital before going to Yale University on a Rockefeller Fellowship. In 1948, at the age of thirty, she was appointed lecturer and honorary consultant physician specialising in hepatology at the Hammersmith Hospital and Post-graduate Medical School and three years later was elected FRCP, by far the youngest woman to be elected to the College. Learn more about Dame Sheila Patricia Violet Sherlock
Walter’s parents were both medical doctors, his father an oral surgeon and his mother a physician. Born in Leopoldsdorf, Vienna, his childhood was spent in the country in Asparn (near Mistelbach, Lower Austria) for primary schooling and in Vienna at a boarding school for secondary education until the age of 14.
In early 1939, as the Second World War loomed, he and his older brother emigrated with a “Kindertransport” from Vienna to Scotland. His mother (who was of Jewish descent) came later in August 1939. Learn more about Walter George Siller.
George Sim, a pioneer of modern chemical crystallography and the deviser of the Sim-weighted electron density synthesis, familiar to SHELX users as FMAP 5, died in August, 2012. Born in Aberdeen, Sim began his long association with the Chemistry Department of the University of Glasgow in 1948. After taking an expected First, he joined J.M. Robertson's X-ray diffraction group in 1952. Within two years he had completed the structures of benzoic acid and [HO2C(CH2)10NH3]Br 0.5H2O and had also convinced his supervisor that he was “a research worker of outstanding brilliance and originality.He then moved to Cochran's group at the Cavendish Laboratory to work on theoretical aspects of the heavy atom method. Sim did his national service with the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston before returning to Glasgow as ICI research fellow. His appointment as lecturer in 1957 ushered in a period of exceptional success in his research. Over the next six years he published roughly a paper a month, the great majority describing three-dimensional structure analyses of important terpenoids, bitter principles, alkaloids and fungal metabolites. This work was recognised by his receipt of the Corday-Morgan Medal and Prize for 1963 and of the Fritsche Award for terpenoid chemistry, given to him in 1967 by the American Chemical Society. Read more about George Sim This obituary was first published in Crystallography Today, Issue No. 124 March 2013
Professor Norman Simmonds died at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh on 4 January 2002. One of four children, with a non-identical twin brother, Ralph, his father was a civil servant and his mother came from a Perthshire farming family, from whom he took his middle name. The family moved around in his early years, largely as a result of his father’s career. By the time he entered secondary education, the family was established in Croydon, and he attended Whitgift School from 1934 to 1940. Learn more about Norman Willison Simmonds
David Cumming Simpson MBE, Emeritus Professor of Orthopaedic Bio-Engineering and former Executive Dean in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Edinburgh, died in 15th May 2006 in Edinburgh. David was born on 24 July, 1920 at The Retreat, Dovecot Road, the Simpson family home in Corstorphine, then a village outwith the City of Edinburgh. His father James Cumming Simpson (1873-1936) was Financial Director of The Simpson Label Company, a respected Edinburgh firm of specialist printers founded in 1858 by his grandfather David Cumming Simpson, of which he was himself an active non-executive director until the company was bought by a Dutch printing firm in the 1990s. His mother was Jeanie Hucheon Sim (1884-1960), a Glasgow lady and a silversmith. David had only one sibling, his elder sister. Learn more about David Cumming Simpson
Charles (Charlie) Smith was born in 1932 on an Aberdeenshire farm, the youngest of a family of six. He took a degree in Agriculture at the University of Aberdeen and then went on to post-graduate studies at Iowa State University where he completed his PhD under J L Lush. He returned to Britain and joined the Animal Breeding Research Organisation in Edinburgh. This was an opportunity that he exploited to the full. His work in Iowa had been on the allocation of resources for improvement purposes and on his return he was able to put this to good use in a very short time. Progeny testing for the improvement of pigs had been adopted in Britain in an imitation of the Danes but had failed to produce noticeable improvements. Analysis had shown a structural fault in the scheme that was corrected by restricting herds to a much smaller number. In those days there was still some doubt about the effectiveness of selection for the improvement of traits of economic importance and Charlie was much involved in devising schemes for measuring genetic gain. Learn more about Charles Smith
Eric Smith was responsible for research activities in Duncan Flockhart Ltd, T & H Smith Ltd and Edinburgh Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd during the period 1947 to 1971. He and his colleagues made several lasting contributions to medicine and commerce notable amongst which were the creation of a new opiate industry based on large scale poppy growing in Australia, the establishment of dihydrocodeine ('DF118') as a major analgesic, and the discovery of 'Bitrex', an intensely bitter substance, now a widely used denaturant. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in 1962 and served on Council 1969-71. Learn more about Frederick Randall Smith
Walter Spear, whose work laid the foundations for thin film displays and large area electronics, died on 21st February 2008 in Dundee. He was born on 20th January 1921 in Frankfurt on Main. His father, who came from an old-established Jewish family in the Odenwald, not far from Heidelberg, was a graphic artist who eventually turned towards photography, pioneering colour photography and processing. His mother, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, was a professional violinist, a well-known soloist and teacher in Frankfurt. He grew up in an atmosphere of musical activity which led to a lifelong love of chamber music. He began violoncello lessons on a half-size instrument at the age of eight. A few years later he inherited a beautiful seventeenth century Italian ‘cello which he played and cherished all his life. Learn more about Walter Eric Spear
John Stamp was born on 3 December 1915 and died on 6 December 1996 at a nursing home in Haddington, East Lothian. Although born in Grimsby, John spent most of his early years in the Potteries district of North Staffordshire where he attended the Orme Boys’ Grammar School. John received his veterinary education at the Royal (Dick) Veterinary School, Edinburgh, where he distinguished himself as a student of merit, being awarded several class prizes and the bronze and silver medals in the final year. He graduated BSc, MRCVS in 1941. After a short period in veterinary practice John was awarded a Centenary Fellowship which enabled him to train in pathology at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow, following which he was appointed lecturer in pathology at the Dick School - a post which he held for four years. Learn more about John Trevor Stamp
John H. Steele was director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for 12 years and was an intellectual leader of the national and international ocean science community. He was well known for his development of quantitative approaches to the study of marine ecosystems, having played a key role in creating major research programs that contribute to our knowledge of the ocean’s role in global processes.
Of Dr Steele’s numerous and diverse accomplishments, he was most proud of his role in the broadening of biological oceanography from being essentially a descriptive science to a quantitative, mathematically based discipline. The defining moment in his career came with the publication, in 1974, of his book, The Structure of Marine Ecosystems, that spelled out his mathematical approach and demonstrated its use with actual data. Read more about John Steele
With the death, some five weeks after celebrating his 100th birthday, of T. S. Stevens FRS, FRSE, Scotland has lost one of its most distinguished scientists. Tommy Stevens, as he was universally known, was a highly original organic chemist who will be remembered in his field for the almost unique distinction of having discovered three reactions: the Stevens Rearrangement of quaternary ammonium salts; the McFadyen-Stevens synthesis of aldehydes; and the Bamford-Stevens elimination reaction, which converts ketones to either alkenes or cyclopropanes. Learn more about Thomas Stevens Stevens
Fred Stewart was charming, canny, perceptive, patient, incisive, highly intelligent, ever so stubborn and completely laid-back. These qualities served him well in his career as an industrial chemist, academic geologist, Dean of the Science Faculty at Edinburgh University, Chairman of the Natural Environment Research Council and Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Research Councils for the UK. He was born in Aberdeen. His father was a Lecturer in Civil Engineering at both the University of Aberdeen and at Robert Gordon’s Technical College. The Stewart family can be traced back to John Stewart who arrived at Nether Downam in Glenlivet, Banffshire in 1636 and his descendants were farmers, landowners and army officers. His maternal grandfather was the owner of the Aberdeen ‘Free Press’ until it amalgamated with the ‘Journal’. One of his uncles (Henry) became Lord Provost of Aberdeen. Stewart Grainger, the film actor was a cousin. Learn more about Sir Frederick Henry Stewart
Emeritus Professor Douglas Walter Noble Stibbs was an astronomer and astrophysicist of international standing, who for thirty years held the Napier Chair of Astronomy at the University of St Andrews and the associated post of Director of the University Observatory. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1961 and served as a member of Council from 1970 to 1972. Read more about Walter Stibbs
It was a discussion over coffee forty years ago at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) Laboratory in London. A group of young researchers,deprecating the productivity of a well known biologist, was quietly interrupted by the Fund's director, Michael Stoker, who pointed out that the object of their criticism had made two distinct contributions that had both changed her field of research. He added that, if any of the disparagers achieved the same, they should consider their careers a success. Stoker's own career, which did much to place Britain at the forefront of research into both virology and cancer, clearly attained this benchmark. Michael Stoker, the son of a medical practitioner, had little initial enthusiasm for medicine but decided to study it as the least unattractive of the career options suggested by his father. He was, however, immediately stimulated by the teaching he received in Cambridge and he completed his qualification at St Thomas' Hospital in 1942, amid the upheaval of the Second World War. The global conflict, which caused dramatic changes in so many lives, saw Michael drafted into the Royal Army Medical Corps and posted to India in 1943. After a year of clinical practice he was assigned as Medical Officer to a Ghurka column in Orde Wingate's Chindits and prepared to be dropped behind enemy lines in Burma, a highly dangerous operation, fortunately cancelled because of the Japanese retreat. Read more about Michael Stoker
Richard Hugh Stoy, CBE was born on 31st January 1910 at Wolverhampton, the fifth child and third son of Hugh Victor Stephen Stoy and Ellen Frances Channing. He spent his early years in Wolverhampton and attended the Grammar School there. His interest as a youth in stargazing was encouraged by his mathematics teacher, Mr Buckley. His education continued at Cambridge (Gonville and Caius College) where he obtained an MA degree. He studied astronomy under Professors Eddington and Stratton and learned the elements of photographic photometry from R O Redman, with whom he was later to be closely associated while both were in South Africa. His PhD was given for a study of nebular spectra that revealed the presence of chlorine. Learn more about Richard Hugh Stoy
Charles Strachan was born in Aberdeen on 7 May 1907, the son of Edward A Strachan who was a bakery proprietor in the city. Education at Aberdeen Grammar School was followed by his entry in 1925 to the University of Aberdeen as first bursar in mathematics and natural philosophy. This was the start of a close participation in the life of the University which continued, with some important but relatively short periods spent elsewhere, beyond his retirement in 1977 from his Readership in Natural Philosophy, until shortly before his death in Aberdeen on 21 September 1993. Learn more about Charles Strachan.
Professor John Swaffield, Professor Emeritus and Head of the School of the Built Environment at Heriot-Watt University between 2002 and 2008, was an engineer and an academic who firmly believed in enabling learning through the application of theory and technology. He pioneered the application of engineering and science in his chosen field of water conservation and drainage engineering, and he established a number of highly successful Building Services Engineering undergraduate and postgraduate teaching programmes. Many will also know that he held the role, between 2008 and 2009, of President of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE). Read more about John Swaffield
Peter Sweet was Regius Professor of Astronomy in Glasgow University from 1959 until 1982. His pioneering research works on flows in stellar interiors and on magnetised plasmas are immortalised in the terms .Eddington-Sweet Circulation. and .Sweet-Parker Reconnection. and laid the foundations for future directions in these fields. In particular, the Sweet-Parker theory of magnetic energy release in solar flares, which have important terrestrial effects as well as being a key physics problem, is a widely used reference point for all subsequent work in this area of plasma astrophysics. Learn more about Peter Alan Sweet
Sir Thomas Symington (1915-2007) held the St Mungo Notman Chair of Pathology at the University of Glasgow and was Head of the Department of Pathology at Glasgow Royal Infirmary from 1954 to 1970. Symington was brought up in the Ayrshire village of Muirkirk and attended Cumnock Academy. His father, who was a miner, died in the influenza epidemic of 1918. He studied at the University graduating with a BSc in Biochemistry in 1936 and MB, ChB in 1941. Read more about Sir Thomas Symington First published by University of Glasgow
R L M Synge was elected FRSE in 1963. He was born in West Kirby, Cheshire, on 28 October 1914, the son of Katherine (née Swan) and Lawrence Millington Synge, a Liverpool Stockbroker. The family was known to be living in Bridgenorth (Salop) in the early sixteenth century. At that time the name was Millington and there is a story that a member of the family from Millington Hall in Rostherne (Cheshire) sang so beautifully before King Henry VIII that he was told to take the name Synge. There have been various spellings of the name and in the nineteenth century the English branch settled on Sing which they retained until 1920 when both R M and L M Sing (Dick's uncle and father respectively) changed their names by deed poll to Synge. In the 19th and 20th centuries the Sing/Synge family played a considerable part in the life of Liverpool and Dick's father was High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1954. Learn more about Richard Lawrence Millington Synge