Alan Cottrell

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Alan Cottrell
Born 17 July 1919
Birmingham, Warwickshire (now West Midlands)
Died 15 February 2012 (aged 92)
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Nationality English
Citizenship British
Alma mater University of Birmingham
Awards Fellow of the Royal Society[1]
Hughes Medal (1961)
Harvey Prize (1974)
Rumford Medal (1974)
Copley Medal (1996)
Scientific career
Fields Metallurgist, Physicist
Solvay Conference on Physics in Brussels 1951. Left to right, sitting: Crussaro, N.P. Allen, Cauchois, Borelius, Bragg, Moller, Sietz, Hollomon, Frank; middle row: Rathenau,(nl) Koster, Rudberg,(sv), Flamache, Goche, Groven, Orowan, Burgers, Shockley, Guinier, C.S. Smith, Dehlinger, Laval, Henriot; top row: Gaspart, Lomer, Cottrell, Homes, Curien

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[edit]

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 emphasising 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.


Cottrell died on 15 February 2012 after a brief illness.[5]

Awards and honours[edit]

He was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.[12]

Selected books[edit]

  • Theoretical Structural Metallurgy (1948) (E Arnold; 2nd Revised edition (1 January 1955)) (ISBN 0713120436)
  • Dislocations and Plastic Flows in Crystals (1953)
  • Superconductivity (1964) (Harwood Academic (Medical, Reference and Social Sc; n edition (December 1964)) (ISBN 0677000650)
  • An Introduction to Metallurgy (1967)
  • Portrait of Nature : the world as seen by modern science (1975)
  • How Safe is Nuclear Energy? (1982) (Heinemann Educational Publishers (29 June 1981)) (ISBN 0435541757)
  • Concepts in the Electron Theory of Alloys (1998)


  1. ^ a b 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. ^ a b History of Metallurgy at Birmingham Engineering at Birmingham University
  3. ^ Scientists in Whitehall by Philip Gummett p49, available at Google books
  4. ^ a b Masters of Jesus College Archived 5 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "Sir Alan Cottrell FRS – Christs College Cambridge". Retrieved 12 January 2017. 
  6. ^ Hughes archive winners 1989 – 1902 Royal Society
  7. ^ The International Who's Who 2004
  8. ^ "Corporate Information". Retrieved 12 January 2017. 
  9. ^ " – This website is for sale! – aimeny Resources and Information.". Retrieved 12 January 2017. 
  10. ^ Copley recent winners: 1990 – present day Royal Society
  11. ^ Holders of the Copley medal (1731–2005) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press 2004
  12. ^ "The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences: Alan Cottrell". Archived from the original on 14 August 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2009. 

External links[edit]

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
Succeeded by
Colin Renfrew
Preceded by
Dame Rosemary Murray
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
Succeeded by
Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer