Robin was built-in in Rangiora, New Zealand, finishing his ancestry at Christ’s College, Christchurch afore accepting a civic scholarship to Canterbury University College. He acquired a Master of Science amount actuality afore affective to the University of Otago to abstraction for a PhD in asleep chemistry. However a alternation of contest and no beneath the bung of a coin, led him to booty a British Titan Products scholarship at University College London with Ron Nyholm to abstraction the allure of titanium and added aboriginal alteration elements in 1958. This accommodation actual abundant showed his admiration to chase his bookish pursuits and his bright faculty of adventure.
UCL became Robin’s abode of assignment for the abutting 60 years and he connected to assignment there up until he died. He became Assistant in 1982, Dean of Science in 1987 and Head of Department and the aboriginal Sir William Ramsay Assistant in 1989, which he retained until 2008. He remained the Head of Department until 1999. He lectured several times at the Royal Institution, giving a Friday Evening Discourse in 1997 and acceptable its Secretary from 1998-2004 and an Honorary Fellow in 2004. In addition, he took ample absorption in NZ High Commission matters, accepting abutting the NZ Universities Graduates’ Association (NZUGA) in the UK in 1958, and as armchair from 1995-2012. In 2008 he became Sir William Ramsay Assistant Emeritus and connected his assay for a added decade. He was adopted an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1989, a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1990, a Member of the Academia Europaea in 1992, a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004 (for his contributions to Science and to New Zealand’s interests in the UK), a Foreign Fellow of the Civic Academy of Sciences, India, in 2007, and an All-embracing Member of the American Philosophical Society in 2010. He was adopted Secretary to the Council of the Royal Institution of Great Britain from 1998 to 2004, and Honorary Activity Fellow in 2004. He additionally served on the Senate of the University of London (1988-92) and on the Council of UCL (1991-4). He lectured broadly in 36 countries and acted as visiting assistant at added than a dozen all-embracing departments.
Robin made aloft contributions to the acreage of asleep allure with his amalgam and structural investigations of new classes of metal compounds, including those absolute abnormal metal-metal bonds. He additionally developed our compassionate of resonance Raman spectroscopy. His constant absorption in colour led him to a abysmal assay of pigments and dyes. Raman microscopy was apparent to be the alarmingly important address for such investigations, as it is awful sensitive, and allows in situ acid as able-bodied as colorant sampling at sub-microgram levels. It was in his afterwards career that he activated his techniques to coin a articulation amid the worlds of science and art. His techniques were non-destructive and awful acceptable for the apprehension of forgeries by way of the identification on a painting of a constructed pigments with a accepted aboriginal date of manufacture. He acquired admission to the V&A and British building archives, Royal collections and added priceless works generally hidden from the accessible eye. He advised amazing and attenuate works of art – the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Vinland map, Egyptian card and Renaissance art.
Robin’s assay in alteration metal chemistry, mixed-valence chemistry, metal-metal bonding and spectroscopy is embodied in over 535 accurate publications and 36 books accounting or edited, and was able with a actual able assay accumulation which rarely exceeded six at any one time. Notable appearance are:
Robin’s called lectures accommodate the Royal Society (RSC)’s Tilden, Nyholm, Graham (twice) and Liversidge lectures, the Royal Society’s UK-Canada Rutherford and Bakerian lectures, the Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ)’s Distinguished Speaker Lectures and the University of Canterbury’s Rutherford Lecture. His all-embracing awards accommodate the Czech Spectroscopy Association’s Marci medal, the RSNZ’s Sidey badge and the countdown Franklin-Lavoisier Badge and Prize of the Maison de la Chimie (Paris) and Chemical Heritage Foundation (Philadelphia).
Robin met Beatrice in 1962 at the Chelsea Town Hall inter-varsity club dance, proposing anon afterwards (at Cardiff Arms Park as the All Blacks exhausted the Barbarians!). They lived a continued and blessed activity together, with their two children, Vicky and Matthew. Robin will be remembered as an bookish and a teacher, and aloft all, a gentleman. He was a loyal New Zealander who fabricated England his home.
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