Prof. Robert Allan Smith

1909 - 1980

Physicist and academic leader. Born in Kelso, Smith was schooled there, completing his education at the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge. He began his academic career teaching at St Andrews University and then moved to Reading, before taking a post at the government research establishment at Malvern where he had a role in the development of RADAR during World War II. An expert on wave theory and the physics of semi-conductors, Smith was appointed Professor of Physics at Sheffield in 1961, but the following year left for the USA to become the first Director of the Centre of Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He returned to Britain in 1968, becoming Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University until his retirement in 1974.

Smith was awarded a CBE in 1960 and served as President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1977-79).

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