Alan Cottrell

Alan Cottrell
Born 17 July 1919
Died 15 February 2012 (aged 92)
Citizenship British
Nationality English
Fields Metallurgist, Physicist
Alma mater University of Birmingham
Notable awards Fellow of the Royal Society[1]
Hughes Medal (1961)
Harvey Prize (1974)
Rumford Medal (1974)
Copley Medal (1996)

Sir Alan Howard Cottrell, FRS[1] (17 July 1919 – 15 February 2012) was an English metallurgist and physicist, former Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government and vice-chancellor of Cambridge University 1977-1979.

Early life

Cottrell was educated at Moseley Grammar School and the University of Birmingham, where he gained a Bachelor of Science degree in 1939 and a PhD for research on welding in 1942.


Cottrell 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.[2] In 1955 he moved to A.E.R.E. Harwell, to become Deputy Head of Metallurgy under Monty Finniston.[2]

From 1958 to 1965 Cottrell was Goldsmiths' Professor of Metallurgy at Cambridge University, and a fellow of Christ's College. He later worked for the government in various capacities, ultimately as Chief Scientific Adviser from 1971 to 1974,[3] before becoming Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, from 1973 to 1986,[4] and Vice-Chancellor of the University in 1977-1979.

Awards and honours

He was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.[11]


Cottrell died on 15 February 2012 after a brief illness.[12]

Selected books


  1. 1 2 Smallman, R. E.; Knott, J. F. (2013). "Sir Alan Cottrell FRS FREng. 17 July 1919 -- 15 February 2012". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2012.0042.
  2. 1 2 History of Metallurgy at Birmingham Engineering at Birmingham University
  3. Scientists in Whitehall by Philip Gummett p49, available at Google books
  4. 1 2 Masters of Jesus College
  5. Hughes archive winners 1989 - 1902 Royal Society
  6. The International Who's Who 2004
  8. AIME Awards
  9. Copley recent winners: 1990 - present day Royal Society
  10. Holders of the Copley medal (1731–2005) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press 2004
  11. "The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences: Alan Cottrell". Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  12. Mention of Alan Cottrell's death

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Solly Zuckerman
Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government
Succeeded by
Dr Robert Press
Academic offices
Preceded by
Sir Denys Page
Master of Jesus College, Cambridge
1973 - 1986
Succeeded by
Colin Renfrew
Preceded by
Dame Rosemary Murray
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
Succeeded by
Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer
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