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Obituary: A J (Tony) Moulson - full obituary

Very sadly, Dr Anthony (Tony) Moulson, retired Senior Lecturer in the Department of Ceramics and School of Materials, died on 1 May 2008. Former student, colleague and friend, Professor Andrew Bell, has contributed the following obituary.

Tony Moulson completed a degree in Physics at Leeds in 1955. He joined the British Ceramic Research Association in Stoke-on-Trent where he undertook a variety of research and development tasks in the rapidly expanding field of technical ceramics and also completed a part-time PhD at Leeds on the diffusion of water through silica under the supervision of Professor J. P. (Pat) Roberts in the Houldsworth School of Applied Science. He returned to the University of Leeds in 1965 to take up a lectureship in the fledgling Department of Ceramics under the leadership of Pat Roberts where he became a lynchpin of the Departments teaching and research over the next thirty years. For approximately fifteen years his research focused on refractory materials, initially alumina, but then on the increasingly important high temperature structural ceramic, silicon nitride. His 1979 review of reaction-bonded silicon nitride remains one of the top two reference works on this material. However, in the late 1970s his research changed direction markedly to embrace the growing field of electroceramics.

His new research covered areas such as dielectric materials for use in microwave communications systems and piezoelectric materials for ultrasonic imaging devices; Tonys group rapidly became the largest in the country in this field. However, his interest in the traditional measures of academic success, such as a large publication record, was limited. His real interest was in education at both undergraduate and postgraduate level and it is probably for the large number of students he set on their way to senior positions in industry and academia that Tony would prefer to be remembered. His levels and standard of pastoral care should be a model for the profession today. Many of his former students look back with enormous gratitude at his enthusiasm, persistence and tenacity in keeping them on the right path to final exams or thesis submission.

It is therefore fitting that his book, Electroceramics, first published in 1989 with John Herbert of the Plessey Company, is recognized the world over as the most comprehensive and instructive student textbook on the subject. To many, it defines the subject of Electroceramics, a fact which is unlikely to go unrecognized by the 700 delegates at the 10th International Conference on Electroceramics this summer in Manchester.

Tony believed passionately in promoting ceramics education through regular school visits, an interest that resulted in a fruitful partnership with the School of Education.

Tony will also be remembered by his former students and colleagues for his impish sense of humour and for the frequent practical jokes that were played out on the fifth- floor corridor of the Houldsworth Building. Tony retired from the University in 1993, but continued to be active professionally and maintained electronic contact with a wide network of materials scientists throughout the world. He completed the second edition of Electroceramics in 2002 and, as one of the key figures in instigating the Materials Science link between Leeds and the University of Chiang Mai, he continued to visit Thailand regularly to provide support and the benefit of his experience to students and to staff at the highest levels at Chiang Mai, and latterly at the Government Laboratory MTEC and the University of Khon Kaen. For parts of his visit earlier this year he was accompanied by members of his family. If his professional passion was for education, then music was certainly as important in his private life and led to him establishing many friendships across the campus and within local musical circles. It is a passion and a gift which he has passed on to successive generations of his family, whose musical talent and success gave him so much pleasure in recent years. Together with Gordon Leedale, he set up a Senior Common Room Club Music Society, offering a record library, recitals and informal lectures.

The funeral will take place on Thursday 8 May at 12pm at Holy Name Roman Catholic Church, Otley Old Road, LS16 6HW. Family flowers only. Donations, if desired, may be made to Take Heart (

The flag will be flown at half-mast on the Parkinson Building on Thursday in Dr Moulsons memory.

Published: 2 May 2008