Reporter 428, 30 November 1998


Resolution adopted by the Senate (21 October 1998) on the retirement of

Professor John Brindley

John Brindley graduated from King’s College, London, in 1955 with a first-class degree in mathematics, with the additional distinction of being the Drew Gold Medallist and Sherbrooke student. He was awarded his PhD in 1958 and was appointed as a lecturer in the Department of Applied Mathematics at Leeds in 1957. He was promoted to senior lecturer in 1970 and to a developmental Chair in Applied Nonlinear Systems in 1992.

John’s early research was mainly concerned with convective problems of fluid mechanics with special emphasis on meteorology. He soon acquired an international reputation for this work, as a consequence of which not only was he much in demand as an invited speaker, but he also received invitations to work at prestigious institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Florida State University and Monash University.

In the late 1970s he became one of the most enthusiastic and accomplished exponents of the application of the mathematical theory of dynamical systems to practical problems. He was one of the prime movers in the setting up of the Centre for Nonlinear Studies and served as its Director from 1986 to 1989. The Centre is extremely successful and there is little doubt that its existence has helped to establish the University’s reputation as a leading international player in the field. He was also extremely adept at exploiting his reputation and membership of Research Council Panels to promote the development of nonlinear mathematics in the UK community. Quite apart from that, his own research contributions to this area are so numerous that it is only possible to list the topics upon which he has worked. These include: baroclinic instability, journal bearings, combustion, population dynamics, chaos in geophysical systems, reaction-diffusion systems as well as fundamental work on the mathematical properties of nonlinear sysems. Even with his formidable energy and talent, he would not have been able to accomplish so much without the personal qualities that enabled him to build up an extraordinary network of collaborators, both within the University and elsewhere. Those of us who have been privileged to work with him can attest to the fact hat he combines the essential characteristics of a successful scientist, talent, curiosity, passion with great personal charm and a fine sense of humour. It is no doubt because of these qualities that he has been such a source of inspiration to his numerous research students and research assistants, many of whom have subsequently achieved academic distinction in the University or elsewhere.

In addition to his distinguished research record, his service on numerous University committees, together with his achievements as Dean of Science, Chairman of the School of Mathematics and Research Dean of the School of Mathmatics and Physical Sciences, have made him one of the best known and respected figures in the University. His energy, mastery of detail and ability to grasp the crux of any issue made him an extremely capable administrator, who will be sorely missed, both by the University and the School of Mathematics. In this, as in his research activities, his personal qualities played a major role in his success.

Fortunately, his retirement has not put an end to his research, indeed he is as active as ever and will, we hope, remain as a Research Professor for many years to come.

Last, but by no means least, the parties that he organised as Chairman of the School of Mathematics will long be remembered for the excellence of the food and drink, the warmth of John and Bronwen’s hospitality and the idyllic setting. It would be hard to overestimate the importance of such occasions in fostering the spirit of community within the School. We all look forward to enjoying John and Bronwen’s friendship and participation in the social life of the School for many years to come.

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