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MEI Online: People News: Europe: July 27th 2007


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:: Gregory John Lawson 1925 - 2006

Dr Greg Lawson, formerly Reader in Minerals Engineering at The University of Birmingham, died on 11th December 2006. Born in Birmingham and educated at Moseley Grammar School, he graduated with a First in Chemistry from The University of Birmingham at the end of the Second World War. Following postgraduate research at Birmingham he was awarded a PhD in Chemistry in 1949. After a period of three years working at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine he returned to Birmingham University in 1952 to take charge of the Coal Constitution Research Group being formed in the Department of Mining. In 1957 he was appointed to the post of Lecturer.

A significant change in the academic thrust of the Mining Department took place in 1960 with the introduction of the Minerals Engineering degree course. Under the stewardship of Professor Stacey Ward and with colleagues, Greg Lawson played his part in defining the subjects covered by this discipline. The Mining Department became the Minerals Engineering Department some years later when eventually the mining side was closed down.

Greg Lawson spent the rest of his career in the Minerals Engineering Department, being appointed Senior Lecturer in 1963 and Reader in 1965. In 1984 he was awarded a DSc in Minerals Engineering; in the same year the Minerals Engineering Department merged with the Chemical Engineering Department. Greg Lawson then worked on a part time basis, finally retiring from academic life in 1986.

His principal research interests were coal constitution and solvent extraction, subjects to which he was able to apply his wide knowledge of organic chemistry. From 1952 to 1986 he supervised the research activities of many postgraduate students and went on to co-author numerous papers in these areas. He was invited to referee papers on these subjects by journals such as Fuel, Nature, Journal of Nuclear and Inorganic Chemistry and others.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chemistry in 1963 and an associate Member of the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy in 1966. He had been appointed to the editorial board of the journal Fuel and also served on the Committee of the Solvent Extraction and Ion Exchange Group at the Society of Chemical Industry.

Before his retirement Greg Lawson was a familiar figure at meetings and conferences, particularly on solvent extraction. He could always be relied upon to enhance technical discussions by asking thoughtful questions, making shrewd observations or simply offering words of encouragement to authors.

Failing eyesight and increasing physical frailty prevented him latterly from maintaining contact with friends, former colleagues and his many ex-students. Generally cheerful and tolerant of the views of others and seldom, if ever, known to lose his temper, his ability for independent thinking and analysis was always evident. He will be remembered as a true gentleman who was devoted to maintaining the highest standards in academic teaching and research. He was proud of the achievements of his students and derived much satisfaction from his role in assisting each individual to achieve their full potential.

He is survived by his wife Betty to whom we offer our sincerest condolences.

Clifford G. Brown




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