Dr Allan McCulloch Ure BSc DSc CChem FRSC

1924 - 2005

Allan Ure died on 18 December 2005 at the age of 81 after a period of illness.  Allan was well known internationally for his contributions in environmental analytical chemistry and speciation.

In 1941, Allan went to St Andrews University, but his studies were interrupted by a period of National Service in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve where he worked on developments in radar. Allan returned to St Andrews and completed his BSc Honours Degree in 1948.  On graduating, he was appointed as a Scientific Officer at the Macaulay Institute for Soil Research in Aberdeen.  Shortly afterwards, he began a part-time PhD at the University of Aberdeen, graduating in 1954 in the field of spectrochemistry.  Allan's career at the Macaulay Institute continued to develop and by the time of his retirement in September 1986, he held the posts of Head of Spectrochemistry and Joint Assistant to the Director.  While at the Macaulay Institute, Allan became an expert in the distribution of trace elements in soils and plants, the speciation of biosignificant elements in soils and the impact of the environment on agriculture. He almost single handedly advocated the development of a standardized sequential extraction procedure now widely used in laboratories throughout the world.

In 1987, Allan began a new career as a part-time lecturer at the University of Strathclyde. His Glasgow-based ancestor, Andrew Ure, had a strong association with Strathclyde, so working at the University was to Allan, a family tradition he was proud to continue. Initially, Allan was invited by the University to assist for a period of one year following the untimely death of Professor John Ottaway. His impact at Strathclyde was so significant that he remained for a further nine years before eventually retiring again!  While at the University of Strathclyde, Allan helped developed research interests in metal speciation and was the prime instigator of a Master's course in Environmental Science. Allan's relaxed but authoritative style made him an excellent research supervisor and popular lecturer at Strathclyde. 

Allan was well known internationally for both his research and professional contributions.  He was active in IUPAC, the BCR in Brussels and various national committees in the UK.  He also served the Royal Society of Chemistry in many capacities including Membership of the Council of the Analytical Division, Chairman of the Scottish Region of the Analytical Division, membership of editorial boards and an office bearer on various subject committees.  Allan's contributions to the RSC were recognized through the award of the 1987 Theophilus Redwood Lectureship and also the Distinguished Service Award.  He was very proud to have received both accolades from his peers.

Allan was also well respected for his contributions to the Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, through his support of the Analytical Spectrometry Updates (and its predecessor the Annual Reports in Analytical Atomic Spectrometry).  Allan acted as the ASU treasurer and co-authored many of the reviews. His involvement with ASU as a review assessor continued right up to the Spring of 2005.

Allan's contributions to science were recognised in 1997 through the award of a DSc degree by the University of Strathclyde.  In addition to an extensive publication list, Allan's legacy includes a well respected textbook in metal speciation (co-authored by Dr Christine Davidson).

News of Allan's death will sadden many colleagues throughout the world.  He will be remembered as an enthusiastic and knowledgeable scientist, a loyal and supportive colleague and good fun to be with.  Many will fondly remember Allan's tall tales of hare-calling, tartan sheep and his extensive travels across Europe. Allan is survived by his wife Dorothy, daughters Jenny and Helen, son Allan and four grandchildren.

Professor David Littlejohn BSc PhD CChem FRSC FRSE 
University of Strathclyde


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