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Alan Cottrell

Alan Cottrell
Born 17 July 1919
Died 15 February 2012 (aged 92)
Citizenship British
Nationality English
Fields Metallurgist, Physicist
Alma mater University of Birmingham
Notable awards Fellow of the Royal Society[1]
Hughes Medal (1961)
Harvey Prize (1974)
Rumford Medal (1974)
Copley Medal (1996)

Sir Alan Howard Cottrell, FRS[1] (17 July 1919 – 15 February 2012) was an English metallurgist and physicist.


Cottrell received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Birmingham in 1939 and a PhD for research on welding in 1942.


Cottrell joined the staff as a lecturer at Birmingham, being made professor in 1949, and transforming the teaching of the department by emphasizing modern concepts of solid state physics.[2] In 1955 he moved to A.E.R.E. Harwell, to become Deputy Head of Metallurgy under Monty Finniston.[2]

From 1958 to 1965 Cottrell was Goldsmiths' Professor of Metallurgy at Cambridge University, and a fellow of Christ's College. He later worked for the government in various capacities, ultimately as Chief Scientific Adviser from 1971 to 1974,[3] before becoming Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, from 1973 to 1986,[4] and Vice-Chancellor of the University in 1977-1979.

He was the first to be awarded the A. A. Griffith Medal and Prize (1965).

Cottrell was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1955, and won its Hughes Medal in 1961,[5] the Francis J. Clamer Medal in 1962, the James Douglas Gold Medal in 1974[6] and the Copley Medal (the Royal Society's highest award) in 1996.[7][8] He was knighted in 1971.[4] He was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.[9] Cottrell was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Essex in July 1982 and an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) from the University of Bath in 1973.[10]

Cottrell died on 15 February 2012 after a brief illness.[11]

Selected books

  • Theoretical Structural Metallurgy (1948) (E Arnold; 2nd Revised edition edition (January 1, 1955)) (ISBN 0713120436)
  • Dislocations and Plastic Flows in Crystals (1953)
  • Superconductivity (1964) (Harwood Academic (Medical, Reference and Social Sc; n edition (December 1964)) (ISBN 0677000650)
  • An Introduction to Metallurgy (1967)
  • Portrait of Nature : the world as seen by modern science (1975)
  • How Safe is Nuclear Energy? (1982) (Heinemann Educational Publishers (June 29, 1981)) (ISBN 0435541757)
  • Concepts in the Electron Theory of Alloys (1998)


  1. ^ a b Smallman, R. E.; Knott, J. F. (2013). "Sir Alan Cottrell FRS FREng. 17 July 1919 -- 15 February 2012".  
  2. ^ a b History of Metallurgy at Birmingham Engineering at Birmingham University
  3. ^ Scientists in Whitehall by Philip Gummett p49, available at Google books
  4. ^ a b Masters of Jesus College
  5. ^ Hughes archive winners 1989 - 1902 Royal Society
  6. ^ AIME Awards
  7. ^ Copley recent winners: 1990 - present day Royal Society
  8. ^ Holders of the Copley medal (1731–2005) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press 2004
  9. ^ "The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences: Alan Cottrell". Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Mention of Alan Cottrell's death

External links

  • The National Archives lists his reports
  • Listen to an oral history interview with Sir Alan Cottrell - a life story interview recorded for An Oral History of British Science at the British Library
  • Tribute by Prof Peter Hirsch
  • Obituary, Daily Telegraph, 19 February 2012
  • Obituary by Dr J.A. Charles
  • AIME James Douglas Gold Medal in 1974 Biography at The American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers.
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Solly Zuckerman
Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government
Succeeded by
Dr Robert Press
Academic offices
Preceded by
Sir Denys Page
Master of Jesus College, Cambridge
1973 - 1986
Succeeded by
Colin Renfrew
Preceded by
Dame Rosemary Murray
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
Succeeded by
Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer
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