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Posted: 15 March 2006

Neil A. Porter

Neil A. Porter
Neil A. Porter

With deep sadness we have learned of the death of Professor Neil A. Porter on 14th March 2006. Neil was a member of staff in Experimental Physics from 1958 to 1989, having been appointed Professor of Electron Physics in 1963. Neil was a wonderful colleague with a very broad range of interests and astonishingly informed on a vast range of topics. He was an inspirational teacher who influenced generations of students in Physics with his engaging style of lecturing and his ability to present complex material in a clear manner, due in the main to his deep understanding of Physics and to his lucid manner of communication.

Neil took a primary degree at the University of Manchester and his PhD research was undertaken at the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS). Subsequently he became a member of staff at the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, Berkshire, before coming to UCD. Neil's research interests were in Cosmic Radiation and he founded a group at UCD in that field. With the passage of time the group prospered as it established collaborative research programs with many US and UK institutions including Harvard, Chicago, UCLA, Michigan and Leeds. The collaboration developed and pioneered a high-speed imaging technique which gave rise to the field of high energy gamma-ray astronomy and led to the discovery of the first galactic and extragalactic cosmic sources of extremely penetrating radiation.

Neil was a wonderful story teller, a talent which he combined with a playful sense of humour. Possessing almost photographic recall, he had a marvellous store of anecdotes about fellow scientists, colourful UCD staff of the 50's, 60's and 70's and miscellaneous characters with whom he might have interacted. He will be sadly missed by all his colleagues in Experimental Physics and by a large circle of his friends. To his wife Shiela, his daughter Rachel and son-in-law Diarmuid, we offer our deepest condolences.


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