1932 - 2020
Alastair Macarthur North was born on April 2nd 1932 in Aberdeen Scotland.
He entered Aberdeen Grammar School Kindergarten in 1937. In the years that followed he moved through the Lower (Primary), Middle and Higher (Secondary) Levels. However in 1941-2, when his father was serving in the Royal air Force and posted to Aldergrove in Northern Ireland, he attended the Antrim village school. Finishing school in 1950, he was awarded colours for rugby and athletics, being Modern Dux and Gold Medal Winner as well as gaining the All Round Trophy. He won the top science bursary in the Aberdeen University Bursary Competition.
Entering Aberdeen University in 1950 he studied Chemistry, finishing in 1954 with first class honours and winning the Center Gold Medal in Chemistry. He started work for a PhD degree at Birmingham University. However, when his research supervisor, George M. Burnett, was appointed to the Chair of Chemistry at Aberdeen University he moved there with him. In 1956 he was appointed Assistant Lecturer in Chemistry. After research in polymer kinetics he graduated with a PhD degree in 1957.
During 1957-8 he was a post-doctoral fellow working with Professor Sydney W. Benson at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. There he developed his interest in diffusion-controlled radical reactions. In 1958 he was awarded an ICI post-doctoral fellowship to work with Professor Cecil E. H. Bawn at Liverpool University. In 1959 he was appointed Lecturer in the Department of Inorganic, Physical and Industrial Chemistry of Liverpool University.
While in that department, in 1965 he was awarded the Marlow Medal of the Faraday Society and the degree of DSc by Aberdeen University.
In 1967 he was appointed as Burmah Professor of Physical Chemistry in the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. There he established a flourishing research group in Polymer Chemistry. He became in succession Head of the Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry, Dean of the School of Chemical and Materials Sciences, Vice Principal and finally Deputy Principal of the University.
While at the University of Strathclyde his interests in research in polymer science, and in science education led to a number of appointments to committees and advisory bodies. The most significant of these were probably those associated with the Science and Engineering Research Council and the Scottish Central Committee for Science (which is responsible to the Secretary of State for all science curricula in Scottish schools). His work there was predominantly concerned with the effects of molecular motion in plastics and rubbers. It was recognized by the award of a Doctor of Science (honoris causa, Lodz, Poland), Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
In 1983 he was appointed as President of the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT). This is an international postgraduate university of technology based in Bangkok, Thailand. It was established to assist the technological development of the countries of the Asia Pacific Region through high level teaching, research and out-reach activities. While he was there the institute doubled in size and in program coverage. His work was recognized by the award of Fellowship of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and honorary degrees by Ramkhamhaeng University and the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand, by Strathclyde University and Aberdeen University in Scotland and by the Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse in France. He was also awarded the Honours, Officer in the Most Illustrious Order of the British Empire, Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques (France), Commander in the Order of King Leopold II (Belgium) and Prasidda Prabala Gorkha Dakshin Bahu (Nepal). He retired from AIT in 1996.
Also, when he was in Thailand, he was Visiting Professor at Chiang Mai (1984-2003) and Mahidol (1996-2018) Universities. There he delivered postgraduate part courses in polymer molecular physics and co-supervised PhD students.
He is succeeded by his second wife, Suwan, four sons and two daughters. 10 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.