Prof Neville Fletcher
Published in the Research School of Physics Event Horizon
Vol43 Issue38 9–13 October 2017
Vale Professor Neville Fletcher AM FAA FTSE (14/07/1930 to 1/10/2017)
A personal message send to all Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science from AAS President Professor Andrew Holmes.
It is with great sadness that I write to inform you of the death of Professor Neville Fletcher on Sunday, aged 87 years.
Neville was awarded the University Medal in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Sydney (Armidale campus) and gained his PhD in 1955 from Harvard University for his research on impurity levels in semiconductors. He then worked in the Radiophysics Division of CSIRO until 1960 when he was appointed to the role of Senior Lecturer, and then Professor in Physics at the University of New England. From 1983 to 1987, Neville was Director of CSIRO's Institute of Physical Sciences and then a Chief Research Scientist at CSIRO until 1995. Neville joined the ANU in 1988 as a Visiting Fellow and then Adjunct Professor. He worked in his ANU office every day (from 8:00 until 4:30) until just a few months ago.
Neville’s research interests included the application of physics to many areas such as, acoustics (including biological acoustics and musical instruments), materials (including semiconductors and solid-state devices, ice and water) and environmental science (particularly ice and clouds). His books on the physics of ice and of musical instruments have had a huge impact on the fields. Neville was also a musician and writer of short poems. He received the Academy’s Thomas Ranken Lyle Medal in 1993 for his outstanding research in physics.
Since his election in 1976, Neville has generously given his time to the Academy. He was elected to the Council in 1979 and served as Secretary (Physical Sciences) from 1980 to 1984. Neville served on over thirty different committees, including: several terms on various Sectional Committees; Council (1979-84); the Finance Committee (1980-84); Science Policy Committee (1984-1987) and then the Consultative Committee on Science Policy (1987-97); the Thomas Ranken Lyle Medal (2001-2003); the Frederick White Prize (2006); and the 2006 Pawsey Medal. Neville also served as the Honorary Editor of the Academy’s Newsletter from 1989 until 2012 and on the ‘House’ committee from 2001 to 2011.
Neville was also actively involved in many of the Academy’s international activities and often assessed applications for the Academy’s programs with Europe, North America and Asia. In 2006, he was co-convenor of an Australia-Japan Symposium on Earth Systems Science and Nanomaterials.
Neville also had a strong interest in writing about science and in science education. He was Chair of the Academy’s Steering Committee for the Primary Investigations program (1991-1995). The success of this endeavour laid the foundation for the Academy’s subsequent involvement into teacher resources and professional learning programs and led to the establishment of Primary Connections, Science by Doing and Mathematics by Inquiry. Recently, Neville made a substantial donation to the Academy’s Futures Fund and his valuable contribution will ensure that children today and in the future will benefit from his generosity.
Neville was a regular visitor to the Secretariat and a much admired and respected Fellow who will be greatly missed. Our deepest condolences go to Neville’s family and colleagues.
Neville’s funeral will be held from 10:30am on Tuesday, 10th October at Norwood Park, 65 Sandford Street, Mitchell, ACT.
A transcript of an interview conducted with Neville in 1999 can be found on the Academy’s website -
Professor Andrew Holmes AC Pres AA FRS FTSE
Professor Andrew Holmes AC PresAA FRS FTSE President
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