An Appreciation

48-SirAlanCottrellSir Alan Cottrell was one of the most outstanding and influential metallurgists of the 20th century. Much of his expertise and reputation was developed during the 19 years he spent at the University of Birmingham. He was certainly a Birmingham man having attended Moseley Grammar School, followed by BSc and PhD degrees in Physical Metallurgy at the University of Birmingham and then the hugely productive years on the staff in the Department of Physical Metallurgy (now the School of Metallurgy and Materials), leaving in 1955 to take up a position at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE) Harwell.


Allen Cotrell (3)

Sir Alan Howard Cottrell was born in July 1919 and was a British metallurgist and physicist.

Alan attended Moseley Grammar School leaving in 1935 to go on to the University of Birmingham where he received his BSc degree in 1939 and a PhD for research on welding in 1942. He joined the staff as a lecturer at Birmingham, being made professor in 1949, and transforming the teaching of the department by emphasizing modern concepts of solid state physics. In 1955 he moved to A.E.R.E. Harwell,to become Deputy Head of Metallurgy under Monty Finniston.

From 1958 to 1965 he was Goldsmiths’ Proffessor of Metallurgy at Cambridge University, and a fellow of Christ College. He then worked for the government in various capacities, ultimately as Chief Scientific Adviser from 1971 to 1974, before becoming Master of Jesus College, Cambridge from 1973 to 1986, and vice-chancellor of the University in 1977-1979.

Sir Alan was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1955, and won its Hughes Medal in 1961, [the James Douglas Gold Medal in 1974 and the Copley Medal (the Royal Society’s highest award) in 1996. He was knighetd in 1971. He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

  •  School: Moseley Secondary School, Birmingham, England (1935)
  • University: BS, University of Birmingham (1939)
  • University: Phd Metallurgy, university of Birmingham (1942)
  • Teacher: Metallurgy, University of Birmingham (1942-49)
  • Professor: Physical Metallurgy, University of Birmingham (1949-55)
  • Professor: Mettallurgy, Cambridge University (1958-65)
  • Administrator: Master of Jesus College, Cambridge University (1973-86)
  • Administrator: Vice Chancellor, Cambridge University (1977-79)
  • Copley Medal 1996
  • Rumford Medal 1974
  • Knight of the Britsh Empire 1971
  • Hughes Medal 1961
  • Royal Society 1955
  • National Academy of Sciences Foreign Associate
  • National Academy of Engineering Foreign Associate
  • UK Official Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government (1971-74)
  • UK Official Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government (1967-71)
  • Official Deputy Chief Scientific Advisor to Ministry of Defence (1965-67)
  • UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment (1955-58)

You can download a recording of a memorial lecture for Sir Alan held on 8th November 2012 by clicking below.