UNE honours distinguished scientist

Published 20 April 2009

robinstokesThe University of New England is celebrating the career – and 90th birthday – of one of its most distinguished scientists: Emeritus Professor Robin Stokes.

Professor Stokes (pictured here), who turned 90 on Christmas Eve last year, was UNE’s first Professor of Chemistry, holding the position of Professor of Physical and Inorganic Chemistry from 1955 until his retirement in 1979.

He lives in Armidale, and will be the guest of honour at a celebratory reception and lecture in UNE’s Lewis Chemistry Lecture Theatre this Wednesday afternoon (22 April). Drinks at 4.30 pm will be followed by a public lecture on Professor Stokes’s life and work by Professor Ken Marsh from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, who was a student of Professor Stokes in the 1960s and a lecturer and Associate Professor of Chemistry at UNE from 1966 to 1985. The presentation of a commemorative plaque to Professor Stokes by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Pettigrew, will be followed by a dinner at “Booloomimbah”.

Born in England and educated in New Zealand and Cambridge (UK), Robin Stokes became a world-renowned authority on the chemistry of solutions. His book Electrolyte Solutions (1959), written in collaboration with Robert A. Robinson, is a classic text in the field, and he is author/co-author of two other important books, several book chapters and conference proceedings, entries in encyclopaedias, and more than 130 papers in peer-reviewed journals spanning the 50 years from 1940 to 1990.

A review of his career in a recent issue of the international Journal of Solution Chemistry said that Electrolyte Solutions “remains one of the most cited references” in the field, and described one of Professor Stokes’s book chapters as “a concise and lucid introduction to the thermodynamics of liquid solutions”.

His published work has been cited more than 15,000 times in the scientific literature, and he modestly attributes this recognition of his work by the scientific community to his belief in the intrinsic “goodness of measured fact”.

Professor Stokes is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. Among his many awards are the Meldola Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry (1946) and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal (1977). His work is remembered in the Australian Chemical Institute’s R.H. Stokes Medal for Electrochemistry (of which he was the first recipient), and in the name of the Stokes Chemistry Building at UNE.

For more information on the public lecture, ring Dr Trevor Brown at UNE on (02) 6773 2872.

THE PHOTOGRAPH of Emeritus Professor Robin Stokes displayed here was taken at UNE in the early 1980s.