Dr Allan Mills

Dr Allan Mills

Posted by pt91 at Mar 28, 2017 11:20 AM |

We have learnt, with great regret, of the death of Dr Allan A. Mills on 28 February 2017.

Dr Mills was appointed as a Research Fellow in Astronomy in 1967 and was a joint appointment with Geology and History of Science when the Department of Astronomy included History of Science. He retired from the University in 1999.

His influence can be seen on the University campus through his interest in timepieces: he designed and built the Astronomical Clock displayed on the exterior of the Rattray Lecture Theatre as well as the design of the clock on the Charles Wilson Building; and he designed the sundials over the Bennett Building and the noon mark sundial in front of the Attenborough Tower and Seminar Block.

Read an obituary for Dr Mills by Dr Aftab Khan and Jonathan Mills.

Sarah Symons, Associate Professor at McMaster University and a former student of Dr Mills, said: “Allan Mills was a memorable lecturer. In the era before PowerPoint, he carried vast numbers of photographic slides into lectures and, with the lights lowered, brought the planets and moons into the classroom. He encouraged students to think, explore, and above all, to experiment. After his retirement, he demonstrated that this pursuit of knowledge was a life-long endeavour. Allan devoted his considerable mechanical talents to the testing of many historical science experiments ranging from early electrical machines to quarrying techniques in ancient Egypt to testing hypotheses about the Turin Shroud image. He published regularly and was notable for his eagerness to share his findings, ideas, and insights. Even in recent years, he was still developing project ideas for Canadian undergraduate students, inspiring them to question and investigate. Allan’s beautiful and intriguing contributions to the University campus (his clock, sundials, and noon mark), his wide-ranging body of written work, and his guiding influence on his students and his students’ students, together form his valuable legacy to academic life.”

Allan Mills pictured with Heather Couper and the astronomical clock in 1989:

The sundials on the Bennett Building: Richard Attenborough and Jean Humphreys at the unveiling of the noon mark sundial in 2007:

Dr Peter Ernest Long

Dr Peter Ernest Long

Posted by ap507 at Mar 24, 2017 04:15 PM |

We have learned, with great regret, of the death of Peter Long who started as lecturer in the Botany Department in 1968 (which later became a part of the Biology Department)  before continuing his career in the  Microbiology Department until 2001. Dr Long was subsequently involved with the Vaughan Centre for Lifelong Learning until 2010 and was still a member of the British Mycological Society. 

A service will be held at Holy Trinity Church (LE1 6WY) on Monday 27th March at 10.00am.  Family flowers only please but donations, if wished, for Christian Aid and War on Want. All enquiries and donations c/o funeral directors A. J. Adkinson and Son, Oadby (0116 2712340) | |


Dr Peter Ernest Long, B.Sc (Hons), Ph.D, passed away at Sobell House Hospice, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, on Tuesday 14th March 2017, aged 79. Beloved father of Fraser and Antonia and brother of David, keen botanist and geologist, and active Christian. Retired Lecturer in the University of Leicester Botany Department, then in Microbiology (1968-2001), and involved with the Vaughan Centre for Lifelong Learning until 2010. Dr Peter Long started as a lecturer at the University in 1968 and worked there not only until his phased  retirement from undergraduate teaching (beginning in 1998 and ending in 2001) but continued to work in a part-time capacity with the University's adult education unit for many years after (until 2010), teaching in evening, weekend or distance learning courses aimed at enthusiasts for ecology and nature conservation.

Of his early time at the University, in the then Botany department, he recalled the following:

"The first two years in particular were largely spent in developing parts of or whole courses on fungi and on the interactions of microbes with plants for the then innovative modular degrees the School of Biology offered. Coupled with a slightly late start in higher education and through not following my doctorate with a research fellowship or two, this probably led to my becoming more of a university teacher than a researcher. It took a several years to find that out [formal career advice being rather underdeveloped then]. Microbial ecology became another teaching interest and I co-authored a third year undergraduate textbook on the topic.

"A new venture in my mid-forties was being seconded to the then large Adult Education department for five years as part of a then small outfit called the Professional Development Unit. My remit was to build on the success of some early intensive short courses on gene cloning aimed at research professionals who needed updating in the then novel technologies. Mercifully I did not have to teach the subjects but had the task of persuading many of my colleagues to come together as a team to deliver intensive one to two week practical courses to an international clientele.  It was an interesting diversion into what was essentially a commercial operation. While doing this I still maintained my undergraduate teaching."

Peter Long had always been keen on mycology and geology. On retirement he actively took up field mycology, the identification and recording of toadstools and other relatively visible fungi. He also worked on geological research papers he had been considering in conjunction with his geology hobby and, with Professor Jan Zalasiewicz and others, produced the following:

  • Zalasiewicz, J.A; Mathers,S.J; Gibbard, P.L.; Peglar, S,M.; Funnell, B.Mm; Catt, J.A. Harland, R.; Long,P.E.; and Austin, T.J.F. 1991  Age and relationship of the Chillesford Clay ( early Pleistocene: Suffolk, England). Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London. Series B. 333: 81-100.
  • Long, P.E. 2000 .Norwich Crag Puzzles: Two Questions raised by Molluscs. In The Geological Society of Norfolk. 50thAnniversary Jubilee Volume. ( ed.R .Dixon) 59-65.
  • Long, P.E. and Zalasiewicz, J.A.Z. 2011. The molluscan fauna of the Coralline Crag (Pliocene, Zanclean) at Raydon Hall, Suffolk, UK: palaeoecological significance reassessed. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecolgy 309: 53-72.
  • Long, P.E. and Zalasiewicz, J.A.Z. 2012 Why look again at the Coralline Crag? A Molluscan Story. In Dixon, R, (ed) A Celebration of Suffolk Geology,  GeoSuffolk 10th Anniversary Volume, 149-161.

Tribute by Bill Grant & Frank Odds:

Our friend and colleague Peter was instrumental in bringing mycology teaching to Leicester. Together, we co-convened the very first microbiology course at Leicester – this second year course, which ran for many years, was the direct ancestor of all the current BSc and MSc modules that currently operate today. Peter also collaborated with one of us (WDG) in setting up a third year course in environmental microbiology (the first such course in the UK) that generated a very successful text book (WD Grant & PE Long {1981} Environmental Microbiology. Blackie, Glasgow & London, 215pp.) During these years, Peter was an extremely enthusiastic and skilled field mycologist who enjoyed taking final year students (and school teachers in evening classes) on “fungal forays” round the county of Leicestershire.  In 2012 he published: Why look again at the Coralline Crag? A Molluscan Story. In Dixon, R, (ed) A Celebration of Suffolk Geology,  GeoSuffolk 10th Anniversary Volume, 149-161. (Long, P.E. and Zalasiewicz, J.A.Z. 2012).

It is also worth recording that Peter set up in 1970 an innovative Easter Field Trip for our students, where a group of 20 or so final year students visited Research Institutes and industrial premises where there was pure microbiological research and research related to industrial processes being carried out, so that they could see future employment options. This was much appreciated by our students and frequently in later years, the current crop of students would come across one of their predecessors working at one or other of these sites. This Field Trip still runs today in pretty much the same form, nearly 50 years later!

Peter was an enthusiastic proponent of mycology who approached his undergraduate teaching responsibilities from a very detailed knowledge base. He will be remembered by all those who knew him.

Mike Fentiman

Posted by pt91 at Mar 10, 2017 02:31 PM |

We have learnt, with regret, of the death of Mike Fentiman on 22 February. He was an English student at the University of Leicester who would go on to become a successful television producer and writer, championing the idea of ‘community programming’.

A senior producer on BBC2’s Late Night Line-Up in the sixties and seventies, Mike had a significant influence over the philosophy of the topical chat programme. Beginning as a collection of reviews and previews of the channel's output, it soon incorporated live music from some of the biggest artists of the day, film and book reviews, interviews and comedy.

It was the start of a long association with the BBC that Mike continued until his retirement in the 1990s and saw him challenge many established assumptions about public service broadcasting within the institution. As editor of the Community Programme Unit and Disability Production Unit, he gave community and special interest groups freedom to make their own programmes.

He was also a writer and penned three comedy series for Radio 4 and contributed to the award-winning radio series Lines from My Grandfather’s Forehead.

Dr Robert (Bob) Meikle

Dr Robert (Bob) Meikle

Posted by pt91 at Mar 07, 2017 11:05 AM |

We have learnt, with great regret, of the death of Dr Robert (Bob) Meikle on 15 February 2017. His funeral took place in Birmingham on 28 February on what would have been his 81st birthday.

The Knighton Chamber Orchestra have organised a concert in memory of Dr Meikle, which takes place on 25 March. Click here for more information.

Dr Trevor Ford OBE

Dr Trevor Ford OBE

Posted by pt91 at Feb 28, 2017 04:45 PM |

We have learnt, with great regret, of the death of Dr Trevor Ford OBE on 22 February 2017.

Trevor was appointed to the Geology Department in 1952 and retired in 1989, keeping close links with the department until very recently.

The funeral will take place at 11am on Thursday 9th March, at the South Leicester crematorium, Foston Road, Countesthorpe, Leicester. There will be refreshments afterwards at The Old Horse pub, 198 London Road (opposite Victoria Park) Leicester LE2 1NE.

Family flowers only, but donations to either Rainbows childrens hospice, or to the Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation - these can be sent/handed to the undertakers, or you can go to their website at and there is a page for donations.

Nigel Wade

Nigel Wade

Posted by er134 at Feb 16, 2017 03:20 PM |

We have learnt, with great regret, of the untimely death of Nigel Wade after a short illness.

Nigel worked in the Radio and Space Plasma Physics (RSPP) group at Leicester for over 30 years and was one of the unsung heroes of the Department providing invaluable support for the group’s research programme during that time.  His role in the RSPP group was first as a programmer working on EISCAT data analysis, then as the RSPP group’s computer systems manager, and more recently he had been heavily involved in the code development for the MIXS instrument on Bepi-Colombo.

During his time at Leicester, Nigel provided computing support to well over a hundred academic staff, postdoctoral staff and postgraduate students.  He will be missed by everyone in RSPP.

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