Reporter 442, 8 November 1999


Resolution adopted by the Senate (20 October 1999) on the retirement of
Professor Neill Alexander

Neill Alexander gained his BA and PhD from Cambridge in 1955 and 1958. From 1958 to 1969 he was first lecturer and then senior lecturer at the University College of North Wales. He came to Leeds as Professor of Zoology in 1969, and was Head of the Department of Zoology from 1969 to 1978 and from 1983 to 1987 he was Head of the Department of Pure and Applied Zoology.

Neill has a wide range of research interests, all tackled with rigour, passion and a happy enthusiasm. He has played a pivotal role in establishing the foundations for research in biomechanics, introducing concepts and methods of analysis which have been widely used by scientists in many disciplines around the world. The originality and quality of his science, the generous way he gives assistance and guidance, and his playful enthusiasm have earned him the respect, admiration and affection of several generations of scientists, from undergraduates to fellow researchers. Formal recognition of his achievements has come on numerous occasions. In 1969 he was awarded the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London and was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Biology, and in 1979 he was awarded the Linnean Medal for Zoology by the Linnean Society. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1987; awarded the Muybridge Medal of the International Society for Biomechanics in 1991; and, in 1996, was elected a Member of Academia Europaea.

Neill has been a prolific writer of papers and books and his output includes fifteen single-author books. Animal Mechanics was identified as a ‘citation classic’ in 1989. Many of his books run into several editions and have been translated into several languages. His interactive multi-media CD-ROM, How Animals Move, received EMMA awards for best natural history and best general reference at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1995.

He is a regular contributor and adviser to television, radio and newspapers, on many aspects of zoology. His knowledge of dinosaurs has attracted particular attention from the media, and led to some memorable headlines!

Neill’s retirement has deprived undergraduates of his knowledge and enthusiasm, but his passion for zoology is unchecked and his researches will continue. He is still involved in a European project to build large-scale, autonomous, moving dinosaurs for museums and exhibitions. Between his research and travelling the world to lecture on it, he still finds time to be editor of Proceedings B of the Royal Society and Secretary to the Zoological Society of London.

We wish Neill, and his wife Ann, a long, happy and fulfilling retirement.

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