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Obituary: Edward Bishop (1936–2018)

Dr Edward Bishop, who died on 23 March aged 82, was one of seven people who met in 1962 to plan the teaching of BSc courses in chemistry at the new University of Sussex. We had a blank sheet of paper as, at that time, administrative constraints were minimal.

Edward had come from Oxford (Wadham College) after research in the laboratory of Rex Richards, one of the pioneers of NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) spectroscopy. This technique allows the environments of certain atoms, notably hydrogen, to be studied by their response to oscillating magnetic fields. Much of Richards’ equipment was hand-built; now NMR (or MRI) instruments costing millions of pounds are widely available in research laboratories and hospitals.

In the next few years the chemistry staff grew rapidly and, as a Lecturer in Chemistry, Edward helped to build the high national and international reputation of the (then) School of Chemistry and Molecular Sciences (MOLS). He stayed until his retirement in 1999.

His main contribution was to teaching over a wide range of physical chemistry, but he was also a founder member of the Environmental Science subject group. Collaborations with biologists, e.g. in the Agricultural Research Council Unit of Nitrogen Fixation, and with geographers, led to publications on a range of topics.

Edward was obsessed with land and marine snails, of which he had an enormous, scholarly described, collection. Some were purchased but many were harvested in the field. Locations of his holidays abroad, with his wife Anne, were at least partly determined by their endemic snail populations. He supervised several third-year projects concerning the relationship between an unusual snail population and local climatic and geological conditions. Later he introduced a new snail species to marshland in Dorset and became an anonymous celebrity when the snails were an important issue in plans for a car park.

Edward, and four other Sussex chemists, in 1965-67 joined with scientists from elsewhere to form a relay team in Ibadan, Nigeria, to help establish courses in the new University of Ife.  He returned to the UK with several edible giant land snails, which survived for some time in a special container in Brighton.

Edward was an enthusiastic curry maker and consumer. His boyhood in Worcester led to an interest in fine china and he and Anne took pleasure in using it. 

The funeral will be at Woodvale Crematorium at 12.30 on Saturday (14 April). Anne, and Edward’s son and daughter, invite friends and colleagues to join them afterwards at 44 Channel View Road, Woodingdean.

Dr Michael Ford-Smith and Dr David Smith, Emeritus Readers in Chemistry


Posted on behalf of: Chemistry
Last updated: Monday, 9 April 2018

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