Professor John Field (1964) 1936-2020
It is with the deepest regret that the College announces the death of Professor John Field at the age of 84. John made a huge contribution to Magdalene as Joint Director of Studies in Natural Sciences from 1973 to 1987, Tutor for Graduate Students 1974-1987, Acting Librarian when Dr Hyam was on leave, and supervisor of very many College undergraduates reading Physics.
John gained his BSc in Physics at the University of London, and his PhD at the University of Cambridge. He joined Magdalene as a Research Fellow in 1964, and in 1966 was appointed to his first position on the University staff, as a University Demonstrator. He was promoted Lecturer and then Reader, and finally Professor of Applied Physics 1994-2003. He was Head of the Physics and Chemistry of Solids Section of the Cavendish Laboratory, a very large group, 1987-2003, and published over 440 scientific papers. He was elected FRS in 1994, and awarded honorary degrees by the Universities of Luleå and Cranfield.
John was a world leader in research on the strength properties of solids, impact processes, shock physics and fracture growth. Much of his work involved high speed photography, using a system capable of taking pictures up to twenty million frames per second. The Government sought his advice on explosions and resistance to penetration by enemy ammunition, and the value of his contribution was recognised in his appointment as OBE. He was a leading authority on the properties of diamonds and edited The Properties of Diamonds in 1979, and The Properties of Natural and Synthetic Diamonds in 1982.
Despite being immensely busy with his research and major administrative roles in his Department John found time to help countless graduate students and undergraduates in College with their problems. He offered wise counsel to his colleagues, and would articulate the humorous side of a situation with a gentle smile just when that was needed. He was a keen cross-country runner, and ran for the College.
The College extends its sympathy to John’s wife Ineke and their family.
Members and friends wishing to write to Professor Field’s wife should please address correspondence to the Alumni and Development Office, Magdalene College, Cambridge CB3 0AG or contact firstname.lastname@example.org by email.