History of the department
Our department started out in 1796 as the Department of Natural Philosophy within Anderson’s Institution (University since 1828). The department kept that name even though the university became known first as the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College and finally as the University of Strathclyde. In the sixties, the department split up into a Department of Natural Philosophy (later renamed "Physics") and one of Applied Physics only to be reunited again as the Department of Physics and Applied Physics. Since 2000, we are known as the Department of Physics.
Below is a list of former Professors in Natural Philosophy. In the 18th, 19th and early 20th century, the department had only one professor at any given time and this person was in effect the head of department as well. The Freeland Chair was founded in 1886 and held by each of the Professors of Natural Philosophy thereafter. Around the time of the second world war, the department started apointing additional lecturers, senior lecturers, and readers. The reason for the split in 1968 was that Principal Curran tried to impose a second Professor (of Applied Physics) on Professor Irving and he manoeuvred to avoid having to accept that. The price of his obstinacy was the creation of another department (Applied Physics), with some brand new staff and others transferred from Natural Philosophy. These days, the Physics Department has about a dozen professors and one specially appointed (for three years) Head of Department.
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Former Professors of Natural Philosophy in Anderson’s College (founded in 1795)
- Thomas Garnett, MD (1766-1802), Professor of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy, 1796-1799 (in 1799 he left to become the first professor of the London Royal Institution).
- George Birkbeck, MD, FRS (1776-1841), Professor of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy, 1799-1804. George Birkbeck went off to found Birkbeck College, which introduced the Anderson model of a University to London. Strathclyde gave the Master of Birkbeck an honorary degree at the bicentenary in 1996.
- Andrew Ure, MD, FRS (1778-1857), Professor of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy, 1804-1830.
- William Heron, MD, Professor of Natural Philosophy, 1830-1833.
- Peter Wilson, MA, Professor of Natural Philosophy, 1833-1842. Peter Wilson was involved in the establishment of Queen’s College whilst he was professor at Anderson’s University, Glasgow. He later became headmaster of the Royal Academy, Inverness, resigning after two years to become head of the Western Collegiate Institution for Ladies, which opened in 1847.
- George Gardner, Professor of Natural Philosophy, 1842-1846.
- John Taylor, MD, Professor of Natural Philosophy, 1846-1862.
- George Carey-Foster, BA LLD, DSc, FRS, FCS,Professor of Natural Philosophy, 1862-1865.
- Alexander S. Herschel, BA, MA, DCL, FRS, Professor of Natural Philosophy, 1866-1872.
- George Forbes, BA, MA, LLD, FRS, FRAS, MInstCE, Professor of Natural Philosophy, 1872-1880.
In 1872, Forbes was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy at Anderson's University. In his lectures he advocated using electricity to power transportation. His main work at this time, however, was research into the velocity of light. In 1874, Forbes led a British expedition to Hawaii to observe the transit of Venus. For more information see George Forbes - a short life.
|Prof. George Forbes observing the transit of Venus in 1874|
Former Professors of Natural Philosophy in the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College (founded in 1886)
- James Blyth, MA, LLD, FRSE (1838-1906), Freeland Professor of Natural Philosophy, 1880-1906.
- James Muir, D.Sc., M.A., Freeland Professor of Natural Philosophy 1906-1938.
- Dougald B. MacQuistan, M.A., B.Sc., F.R.S.E., Freeland Professor of Natural Philosophy 1938-1943
- James S. Rankin, BSc, PhD, ARCST, MIMechE, FInstP, Freeland Professor of Natural Philosophy, 1943-1961.
- John Irving, MA, PhD, Freeland Professor of Natural Philosophy, 1961-1984
Former Heads of Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Physics and Applied Physics in the University of Strathclyde (1964)
- Edward Eisner, BA, PhD, FRSE, HoD Dept. of Applied Physics, 1968-1984.
- Anthony L.S. Smith, BA, PhD, HoD Dept. of Physics, 1979-1984. The department was renamed during his HoD period from Natural Philosophy to Physics. At this time Eisner was still HoD of AP.
- Brian Henderson, BSc, MA, PhD, ScD, FInstP, FAIP, MRIA, FRSE, Freeland Professor of Natural Philosophy, HoD Dept. of Physics, 1984-1986.
- Gordon B. Donaldson, MA, PhD, FInstP, HoD Applied Physics, 1984-1986.
The Department of Physics and Applied Physics was formed in 1986.
- Roger Nisbet, FRSE, the first HoD of the newly formed Dept. of Physics and Applied Physics, 1986-1988. Currently Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, USA.
- Geoffrey Duxbury, FRSE, HoD Dept. of Physics and Applied Physics, 1988-1990.
- William J. Firth, BSc, PhD, CPhys, FInstP, FRSE, FOSA, Prof of Experimental Physics, HoD Dept. of Physics and Applied Physics, 1990-1993.
- Gordon B. Donaldson, MA, PhD, FInstP, FRSE, Prof of Applied Physics, HoD Physics and Applied Physics, 1993-1998.
- Alan D.R. Phelps, FRSE, HoD Physics and Applied Physics, 1998-2001.
- William J. Firth, BSc, PhD, CPhys, FInstP, FRSE, FOSA, Prof of Experimental Physics, Freeland Professor, HoD Physics and Applied Physics and renamed Physics, 2001-2004.
- David J.S. Birch, FRSE, HoD Physics, 2004-2010.
- Robert W. Martin, MA, DPhil, CPhys, FInstP, Prof of Nanoscience, HoD Physics, 2010-present.
|Roger M Nisbet||Geoff Duxbury||Gordon Donaldson||Alan Phelps|
|Willie Firth||David Birch||Rob Martin|