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[Mix] Norman Greenwood (1925-2012)

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  • From: Frank Berry <berryfjz AT>
  • To: MIX <mix AT>
  • Subject: [Mix] Norman Greenwood (1925-2012)
  • Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2013 02:39:38 +0100 (CET)
  • List-archive: <>
  • List-id: Discussion journal of the Mossbauer Community <>

Norman Greenwood

It is with regret that I write to record the death of Professor Norman Greenwood on 14 November 2012 at the age of 87 years.

Norman was born and educated in Melbourne. In his early life he showed the drive and determination which characterised so much of his later life. He studied part-time for his undergraduate degree in Melbourne because of financial constraints and subsequently moved to Cambridge as a research student and then post doctoral fellow with Professor Harry Julius Emeleus. His later employment at the Atomic Research Establishment at Harwell introduced him to expertise with which he later used in his work on atomic weights, isotopic abundance and manmade elements.

Norman’s academic career began in the University of Nottingham where he built an enthusiastic research group. He enjoyed teaching and his clarity of thought enabled him to present complex concepts before his students in a way that made them want to learn. In 1961 he was appointed Professor of Inorganic Chemistry in the University of Newcastle and soon had a research group that attracted co-workers from around the world. In 1971 he moved to the University of Leeds. There he developed his two major research thrusts-the chemistry of boron and Mossbauer spectroscopy.

Norman's contribution to developing Mossbauer spectroscopy in the United Kingdom was immense. As a senior Professor of inorganic chemistry he strove to establish the technique and encouraged work of high standard. The tone of his laboratory was always informal and all shared academic ideas in an atmosphere of lively discussion. He gained worldwide recognition for his work and was thrilled by the appointment by NASA to study rocks brought back from the moon in the Apollo programme. He was the founder of The Royal Society of Chemistry Mossbauer Group and , with Terry Gibb, wrote the book Mossbauer Spectroscopy which at its time was the definitive treatise on the subject. He was recognised as a leading practitioner of the technique on the international stage. In the early 1980’s Norman made the hard decision to focus his work exclusively on the chemistry of boron and develop his highly respected reputation in the international boron community.

Norman believed that chemistry is exciting and his book Chemistry of the Elements written with Alan Earnshaw has achieved global acclaim. He held honorary doctorates from Universities in Japan and France and was elected a foreign member of the French Academy of Sciences. He was elected a Fellow of The Royal society in 1987.

In retirement Norman continued his association with inorganic chemistry though writing and lecturing and , with his wife, enjoyed travelling on all continents.

Norman will be remembered by many of us as an innovative researcher who established Mossbauer Spectroscopy in the United Kingdom, He was a stimulating teacher and colleague and an outstanding communicator.

He is survived by his wife Kirsten and two daughters.

*Norman Neil Greenwood, Professor of Chemistry, born 19 January 1925, died 14 November 2012

Professor Frank Berry
School of Chemistry
The University of Birmingham
Birmingham B15 2TT
United Kingdom

  • [Mix] Norman Greenwood (1925-2012), Frank Berry, 03/21/2013

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