Dr Brian Webster MA PhD MRSC
1939 - 2008
He went up to Magdalen College Oxford to study Chemistry in 1958, spending his final year on a theoretical chemistry project with Professor Coulson in the Applied Mathematics department.
He married, Mary, in Bournemouth in 1961. After completing their degrees they sailed to Australia via Suez, under a Commonwealth Scholarship returning via the Panama Canal to Glasgow. Brian secured an assistant lecturer post at Glasgow University whilst he completed his PhD in theoretical chemistry with Professor Cruickshank. He was then appointed to a permanent lectureship at Glasgow University.
His four children, Bridget, Adrian, Sonia and Zuleika were born between 1964 and 1970.
At Glasgow University his area of research was theoretical chemistry. He was considered a superb lecturer, ranging from introductory chemistry courses to advanced bonding and quantum mechanics. His research students found his wide knowledge - within and outside chemistry - stimulating.
He was internationally known for his work on bonding, solvated electrons, muonium chemistry and other topics, attending and speaking at scientific meetings and conferences. He made visits to other universities including a short term professorship at the university of Paris. He wrote a large number of scientific papers. He co-edited the book Electron-solvent and anion-solvent interactions, published in 1976, which described the current state of research on solvated electrons. His book, Chemical Bonding Theory, was published in 1990, and was also translated into Japanese. Those involved in muonium chemistry owe Brian a debt for putting the subject on a firm footing with what must have been amongst the first - if not the first -computational backing: Born Oppenheimer checks, ab initio structure determinations of muonium-containing radicals etc. He is remembered too for his stentorian voice and inimitable chairmanship style! My own memory of Brian is of a generous and kind man, who was a wonderful source of humanistic support and intellectual succour, particularly to the young.
In Autumn 2000 he retired and was designated an Honorary Research Fellow and continued pursuing his own research from home including academic writing.
His wide range of interests including music - he played the piano, the clarsach harp and had an appreciation and knowledge of both classical and modern music. He was widely versed in painting, sculpture and literature. He loved walking, both in Scotland and the Alps, and mountain biking in the Highlands. He enjoyed gardening with a love of flowers both in his own garden, and in gardens throughout Europe.
He died on 17 October 2008 and is survived by his wife, Mary, his four children and five grandchildren.
The RSC is not responsible for individual opinions expressed on this page.