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Ian Ward

Professor Ian Ward

As previously announced Professor Ian Ward FRS died on 5 November 2018, aged 90.  The following tribute has been provided by the School of Physics and Astronomy, with input from Professor Phil Coates at the University of Bradford.

Ian Ward was a pre-eminent polymer scientist, internationally known for his research on oriented polymers.

He was educated at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle upon Tyne, and Magdalen College, Oxford, receiving his BA Physics in 1951 and his DPhil in 1954.

Ian joined the Fibres division of Imperial Chemical Industries as Technical Officer in 1954.   Following a secondment to the Division of Applied Mathematics of Brown University (1961-62), he became the Head of the Basic Physics Section at ICI.  In 1969, he joined the University of Leeds as Professor of Physics becoming Cavendish Professor in 1987.  He chaired the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Leeds from 1975 to 1978 and again from 1987 to 1989.   He also served as the President of the British Society of Rheology from 1984 until 1986.

Ian Ward was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1983.  His certificate of election reads:  “Physicist.  Distinguished for his comprehensive investigations of properties of solid polymers and their relation to structure.  The main thread through his work has been the elucidation of mechanical behaviour in highly anisotropic systems.  He established the comprehensive methodology for characterising such systems, involving a wide range of mechanical, spectroscopic and other structure techniques.  Through these he established correlations between properties and structure which have greatly contributed to the understanding of the behaviour of these systems and to the achievement of desired properties by planned orientation procedures.  In the latter respect, his work has led to the attainment of ultraoriented fibrous material of greatly enhanced stiffness and strength.  Professor Ward also made salient contributions to viscoelastic relaxations, non-linear viscoelasticity, yield behaviour and to the study of molecular conformations by spectroscopic methods.”

Ian also sat on a number of external committees for the Royal Society, the MOD and SERC during his time at Leeds.

In 1989, he became the first Director of the Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Polymer Science and Technology, formed by a major EPSRC grant (amounting to £23M over 11 years) following strong national competition.  Ian retained the position until he retired in 1994.   From 1994, he was a Research Professor at Leeds, continuing his research activities and expanding industrial interactions until 2016.  During this time, he was also the Technical Director of the Centre for Industrial Polymers here at Leeds from 1994 to 2004.  He received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bradford in 1993, where he was also an Honorary Professor, and had many close collaborations with the team there led by Professor Phil Coates.   One of these collaborations led to the spin out company Eovations LLC in the USA, following extensive research programmes with Dow Building Products into oriented cavitated polymers for wood replacement.

During his time at Leeds, Ian had long-term collaborations with academics in a number of other schools including Materials Science, Mechanical Engineering (Professor David Barton), Textiles and Chemistry and with many overseas academics and industrialists.

Ian published almost 700 peer-reviewed journal articles, 5 textbooks and held 30 major patents.  He served for many years as Editor of the journal Polymer published by Elsevier, and was a long-standing member of a number of editorial boards for other journals.  Ian wrote a number of text books including the widely used “Mechanical Properties of Solid Polymers” (Wiley, 2012 – 3 editions from 1971-2013 - 3rd edition co-authored with John Sweeney) and its precursor “An Introduction to the Mechanical Properties of Solid Polymers” (Wiley 2004 – 2 editions from 1993-2004 – 2nd edition with John Sweeney).  He contributed to textbooks on: “Ionic Interactions in Natural and Synthetic Macromolecules” (Wiley 2012), “Handbook of Textile Fibre Structure” (Woodhead Publishing 2009) and “Mechanical Properties of Polymers Based on Nanostructure and Morphology “(Taylor and Francis 2005).  He also edited textbooks including “Structure and Properties of Oriented Polymers” (Springer 1997) and the research book, “Solid Phase Processing of Polymers”, co-edited with Coates and Dumoulin (Hanser 2000).

Ian Ward received prestigious awards from the Institute of Physics (CV Boys 1993, Glazebrook 2004 medals), the Institute of Materials (Griffiths Medal 1982, Swinburne Medal 1988 and Netlon Medal 2004).  In 2013, he was awarded the Staudinger-Durrer Prize for Materials Science from ETH Zurich, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of mechanical properties of solid polymers and polymer-based composites.

The Ian Macmillan Ward Prize for the Best Student Publication, awarded every two years to PhD students by the Institute of Physics Polymer Physics Group, is named in his honour as is the University of Leeds School of Physics Ian Ward Annual Lecture which was instituted in 2017, with the inaugural lecture given by Professor Phil Coates from Bradford University.

Ian was Managing Director of several University of Leeds spin-off companies.  These included Vantage Polymers for single polymer self-reinforced composites (the CURVTM material), die-drawn ropes and tubes, and Gelectrix Limited and Leeds Lithium Power for ionically conducting polymer gel electrolytes used to manufacture lithium batteries.

In his leisure time, Ian greatly enjoyed hill walking with his wife Margaret, and was an accomplished pianist.