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Roy Taylor, 1934–2011

Roy graduated in 1956 and spent his early working life at the UK Atomic Energy Authority utilizing his metallurgical background initially on studies on metals related to nuclear reactor construction. However for his last thirty plus years, especially after joining University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), his major interests and the mainstay of his career were involved with the measurement of thermal and related physical properties at high temperature of metals and graphite and ceramic based materials. His association with European Conference on Thermophysical Properties (ECTP) and this journal can be related historically in the context of these significant developments that have taken place during this period.

He designed and built the first laser flash thermal diffusivity system available in the UK. Based on this he was awarded his MSc in 1966 and was then invited to apply for one of the four “new blood” lectureships in the rapidly growing Metallurgy (Materials Science) departments of UMIST. He started by building an improved version of the original measurement system and was one of the first to use computers as an integral part of experimental measurement to directly measure the required data.

Much of this work helped in the design and efficiency improvement of the engines and other aircraft components.

This provided the basis for work on which he gained his PhD and also enabled him to secure a one year sabbatical appointment at NBS (now NIST) during the bicentennial year in Gaithersburg where he quickly established lifelong friendships with other workers among the community of US and visiting researchers. In addition his work there enabled him to obtain a contract to study carbon composites for use in the choice of the material for the nose cone of the Space Shuttle when he returned to the UK. Following his return he spent a considerable amount of research time and effort particularly for Rolls Royce and French organizations studying the properties of carbon composites and also thermal barrier coatings used for the hottest parts of jet engines.

His academic career and reputation progressed steadily such that he became a leader in the thermal properties field and 1994 saw the pinnacle attained with the award of a long overdue personal University Chair not only for his research and development at UMIST — but also his ability to obtain significant external research income. After a 3 year stint as head of department he finally retired in 2000 after winding down through a two year part time teaching position.

It was during his very early-career interests in measurements of thermal transport properties that he became involved with the ECTP, a link that was never broken even after his retirement. The first meeting was in Baden-Baden in 1968 followed by the second in Salford in the UK in 1970. Roy participated at this conference and subsequently became well-known amongst his contemporaries for his contributions on thermal measurements and their application. At the third conference in Turin he authored the first two of a number of valuable contributions on thermal diffusivity and related topics that were presented and published in the conference proceedings at various times during the series that he attended regularly until the one in Bratislava in 2005.

In addition to these direct contributions to the ECTP conferences he became a forceful member of its International Organizing Committee in the stimulation, organization and support of further meetings in the series. Furthermore in 1993, following the sudden serious illness of Prof. Fitzer, the editor the thermal section of the journal High Temperatures-High Pressures (HTHP), Roy, after a brief period when they shared the post, agreed to accept the responsibility and become the editor of the Journal. He became directly involved with the publication of the papers including those at the ECTP conferences carried out the numerous tasks in his usual forceful manner until his own retirement from UMIST in 2000. The result of these many contributions to the subject of thermophysical properties was recognized in 1999 by the ECTP Lifetime Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field.

Roy was frequently invited to international materials meetings, often as a keynote speaker or conference session chairman made fellow of several institutions and appointed editor of the Journal of High Temperature Materials. Among the many other awards and honors relevant to this field are:

• 1985 Elected Fellow of the International Thermal Conductivity Conference
• 1989 Elected Fellow of the Institute of Ceramics
• 1992 Elected Fellow of the Institute of Physics
• 1995 Thermal Conductivity Conference Award for outstanding contribution to the field

He really enjoyed teaching and was a highly popular and effective lecturer with his under graduates by being able to make complex concepts and ideas understandable. However his major forte and rapport was the direct involvement with post graduate and post doctoral students most of whom he treated as an extended family. On various occasions he managed to find funds that enabled one or two of such students to attend an appropriate conference. He was immensely proud of all of his students and it was a constant measure of the relationships he established, as he did with so many people, that many of them stayed in regular contact as their careers and lives progressed.

Over the years his reputation became international in extent and thus he, often accompanied by Rene, attended many conferences at home and overseas, including USA, China, Russia, where his inputs and pithy comments on many topics, not necessarily technical, were always respected for their relevance.

Ron Tye

full text (IP)