It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of Professor John White, who died very suddenly, most probably of a heart attack, in his garden on 16 August.
John was the UK’s first Director of the ILL, a post which he held from 1977 to 1980 after serving for two years as Associate Director. He was one of the architects of the ILL’s very first instrument upgrade programme, known as the “Deuxième Souffle” (way back in the 1970s!).
John began his neutron scattering career in the 1960s in Europe, which at the time boasted the most dynamic community. He quickly established himself as one of the leading specialists in the field. He spent time at Oxford and Harwell, where he was Neutron Beam Coordinator, before coming to the ILL. His influence and support were probably instrumental in the SERC’s decision that the UK should join the ILL to become the Institute’s third Associate.
After completing his term of office at the ILL, he returned to his native Australia to take up the post of Professor at the Research School of Chemistry of the Australian National University (ANU). His career as an active scientist spanned many decades and he won a number of prestigious awards.
John was a brilliant man who was always keen to keep up to date with the latest scientific developments. With his tall physique and his polite and warm manner, he never went unnoticed. A scientist and a gentleman, John White loved France. On his regular trips back to Grenoble, he never failed to visit the ILL, just as he did again only last June. With his passing, the ILL has lost a dear and loyal friend.