Alan Cottrell

Sir Alan Howard Cottrell, FRS[1] (17 July 1919 – 15 February 2012) was an English metallurgist and physicist. He was also former Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government and vice-chancellor of Cambridge University 1977–1979.

Alan Cottrell
Born17 July 1919
Birmingham, Warwickshire (now West Midlands)
Died15 February 2012(2012-02-15) (aged 92)
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Alma materUniversity of Birmingham
Known forCottrell atmosphere
Lomer–Cottrell junction
Crack tip opening displacement
AwardsFellow of the Royal Society[1]
Hughes Medal (1961)
Harvey Prize (1974)
Rumford Medal (1974)
Copley Medal (1996)
Scientific career
FieldsMetallurgist, Physicist
Solvay Conference on Physics in Brussels 1951. Left to right, sitting: Crussaro, N.P. Allen, Cauchois, Borelius, Bragg, Moller, Sietz, Hollomon, Frank; middle row: Rathenau,(nl) Koster, Rudberg,(sv), Flamache, Goche, Groven, Orowan, Burgers, Shockley, Guinier, C.S. Smith, Dehlinger, Laval, Henriot; top row: Gaspart, Lomer, Cottrell, Homes, Curien

Early lifeEdit

Cottrell was educated at Moseley Grammar School and the University of Birmingham, where he gained a Bachelor of Science degree in 1939 and a PhD for research on welding in 1942.[2]


Cottrell joined the staff as a lecturer at Birmingham, being made professor in 1949, and transforming the teaching of the department by emphasising modern concepts of solid state physics.[3] In 1955 he moved to A.E.R.E. Harwell, to become Deputy Head of Metallurgy under Monty Finniston.[3]

From 1958 to 1965 Cottrell was Goldsmiths' Professor of Metallurgy at Cambridge University, and a fellow of Christ's College. He later worked for the government in various capacities, ultimately as Chief Scientific Adviser from 1971 to 1974,[4] before becoming Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, from 1973 to 1986,[5] and Vice-Chancellor of the university in 1977–1979.[6]


Cottrell died on 15 February 2012 after a brief illness.[7]

Awards and honoursEdit

He was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.[15]

Selected booksEdit

  • Theoretical Structural Metallurgy (1948) (E Arnold; 2nd Revised edition (1 January 1955)) (ISBN 0713120436)
  • Dislocations and Plastic Flows in Crystals (1953) (ISBN 978-0198512066)
  • Superconductivity (1964) (Harwood Academic (Medical, Reference and Social Sc; n edition (December 1964)) (ISBN 0677000650)
  • An Introduction to Metallurgy (1967) (ISBN 978-0901716934)
  • Portrait of Nature : the world as seen by modern science (1975) (ISBN 978-0684143552)
  • How Safe is Nuclear Energy? (1982) (Heinemann Educational Publishers (29 June 1981)) (ISBN 0435541757)
  • Concepts in the Electron Theory of Alloys (1998) (ISBN 978-1861250759)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Smallman, R. E.; Knott, J. F. (2013). "Sir Alan Cottrell FRS FREng. 17 July 1919 – 15 February 2012". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 59: 93–124. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2012.0042.
  2. ^ Charles, J A (February 2012). "Sir Alan Howard Cottrell ScD, FRS, FREng, LLD (Hon)" (PDF). Academia Europaea. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  3. ^ a b History of Metallurgy at Birmingham Engineering at Birmingham University
  4. ^ Scientists in Whitehall by Philip Gummett p49, available at Google books
  5. ^ a b Masters of Jesus College Archived 5 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b c Kaiser Danner (24 July 2017). "Alan Cottrell". Academia Europaea. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  7. ^ "Sir Alan Cottrell FRS – Christs College Cambridge". Archived from the original on 27 May 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  8. ^ Knott, John (18 March 2012). "Sir Alan Cottrell obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  9. ^ Hughes archive winners 1989 – 1902 Royal Society
  10. ^ The International Who's Who 2004
  11. ^ "Corporate Information". Archived from the original on 25 May 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  12. ^ "Sir Alan Howard Cottrell". American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers. Archived from the original on 22 September 2020. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  13. ^ Copley recent winners: 1990 – present day Royal Society
  14. ^ Holders of the Copley medal (1731–2005) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press 2004
  15. ^ "The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences: Alan Cottrell". Archived from the original on 14 August 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2009.

External linksEdit

Government offices
Preceded by Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by Master of Jesus College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
Succeeded by