[Neutron] Professor John White [SEC=OFFICIAL]

GILBERT, Elliot Paul epg at ansto.gov.au
Sat Aug 19 06:21:37 CEST 2023

It is with great sadness that we advise the community that Professor John William White passed away on 16 August 2023 in Canberra, Australia.

John White was a key figure in the international scattering community for more than five decades. Over the course of a long and distinguished career, through a combination of advances in experimentation and choice of paradigm examples, his work demonstrated how neutron scattering data could be analysed to provide precise details of molecular structure and dynamics for a wide variety of chemical systems.

John White began his neutron scattering career in Europe in the 1960s where the most exciting developments were taking place at the time. Within ten years he had risen to the top of the leadership in the field, serving as Neutron Beam Coordinator at Harwell and then Director of the ILL in Grenoble, France, where he proposed and led the "deuxième souffle" renewal program from 1978.

In 1985, he returned to Australia and was appointed Professor at the Australian National University. His return greatly benefited Australia, as he was largely responsible for introducing the new experimental techniques of small-angle scattering and reflectometry to the Australian chemistry, biology and physics communities.

John White was the most politically influential and effective advocate for neutron scattering in Australia through his roles as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, President of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and President of the Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering. Under the heading of "Small Country Big Science", he organised a crucial access deal for Australian scientists to ISIS in the UK. Over 20 years, this provided Australian researchers with access to the most powerful spallation neutron source, with scattering techniques unavailable in Australia. The growth of new scientific and engineering uses of neutrons in Australia through ISIS access provided a sound basis upon which the case for a replacement research reactor at ANSTO was developed, and ultimately commissioned as OPAL in 2005.

John White was a major driver in building an Asia-Oceania neutron scattering community to the mutual benefit of all its member countries. His direct involvement began on the Asian Crystallography Association Council in the early 1990s, shortly after its inception, and also as a founding executive member of the Asia-Oceania Neutron Scattering Association of which he served as president from 2010-2012 as well as serving as chair between 2002 and 2012 of the International Advisory Committee for the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex.

Awarded with the Centenary Medal in 2001 and appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2016, perhaps most importantly, through a combination of his exemplary science and his promotion of scattering techniques, John White has been responsible for launching the careers of a great many scientists across the globe. University departments and scattering facilities throughout the world are populated with John's former students, postdocs and others whom he formally and informally mentored over more than five decades. The legacy of his leadership will be felt in Australia, the Asia-Oceania region and beyond for many years to come. He will be sadly missed.

Written on behalf of his most recent former students, postdocs and colleagues.

Prof Elliot Paul Gilbert
Senior Principal Instrument Scientist, QUOKKA (Small-Angle Neutron Scattering)
Lead, Food Materials Science
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
+61 2 9717 9470
elliot.gilbert at ansto.gov.au<mailto:elliot.gilbert at ansto.gov.au>
www.ansto.gov.au/people/dr-elliot-gilbert<http://www.ansto.gov.au/people/dr-elliot-gilbert>; https://www.ansto.gov.au/foodscience<https://www.ansto.gov.au/research/programs/other/food-science>

Honorary Professor
The Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology,
The University of Queensland

Honorary Professor
Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences,
The University of Queensland


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