Many members will be aware that, sadly, Mr Tony Nichells, former Senior Experimental Officer in the Department of Materials, died on 28 December 2005.
Having worked for several years as a radio and television servicing technician, Tony Nichells was appointed in December 1969 as a senior member of the technical staff of the Department of Botany (later Plant Sciences), responsible for the Departments electron microscope facilities. In this post, he built up extensive knowledge and practical experience of the operation, construction and maintenance of a wide variety of electron microscopes, instructing students and staff in their use. In 1978, he transferred to a similar position in the Department of Metallurgy (later Materials). Appointed as Experimental Officer in the following year, he was promoted to Senior Experimental Officer in 1996.
Throughout a period of extensive change in the number, range and sophistication of electron microscopes, Tony Nichells continued to provide a very high level of technical and managerial expertise and support, of great value to the research activities not only of departments in the School of Process, Environmental and Materials Engineering but also of other engineering, science and medical and dental departments. He provided research students and academic staff with expert advice on the choice of instruments and operating modes, preparation of specimens and the interpretation of results. He supervised the maintenance of equipment, ensuring its operation at peak efficiency, and took responsibility for the training and oversight of technical staff. He was closely involved in the selection and commissioning of new equipment. Tonys considerable proficiency and enthusiasm were greatly appreciated by his colleagues; Professor Rik Brydson writes that he gave:
many years of superb and dedicated research support for the optimal use of electron microscopes in the investigation and analysis of the microstructure of solid materials. For him no problem was ever intractable. Many people will remember and greatly miss Tony for his breadth of knowledge on many topics, his diverse range of interests (always undertaken to a high standard) and his committed views on many subjects.
Tony Nichells was regularly invited to lecture on courses organised by the Royal Microscopical Society and gave talks to users of electron microscopes in several parts of the country. He successfully completed an Open University degree in 1980 and also founded, and for several years ran, the University Students Parachute Club.
Tony Nichells took early retirement from his post in December 2000 and was re-engaged as a Senior Fellow for the year following his retirement. Tony is survived by his wife, Margaret, and two children, Alex and Dinah.