Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sir Gareth Roberts

Professor Sir Gareth Roberts, president of Wolfson College, Oxford, who has died from cancer aged 66, made a stunning impact on the UK science scene, through his chairmanship of several academic bodies and his two reports on the future supply of scientists and how university research should be assessed.He took a first-class honours degree and a PhD at University College, Bangor and lectured there until 1966, when he joined Xerox in the US for two years to study the physics of colour photocopying. It was there he developed his interest in applied physics, trying to understand how things worked, and making them work better. He returned in 1968, joining the then New University of Ulster at Coleraine, and rose to become dean of physical sciences.His research also progressed well, and in 1976 he was invited to become head of applied physics and electronics at Durham University. He studied Langmuir-Blodgett films (a set of monolayers, or layers of organic material one molecule thick, deposited on a solid substrate), in which he became an authority, and this broadened into molecular electronics, an area now coming to fruition

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