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February 19, 2007 | by  | in News |
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Alan MacDiarmid: 1927-2007

Victoria University is mourning the death of Nobel Prize Laureate and Victoria alumnus Professor Alan MacDiarmid.

Professor MacDiarmid died on February 7 following a fall at his home in Philadelphia. He was expected to travel to New Zealand to speak at the AMN-3 International Conference for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology.

Born in Masterton in 1927, Alan MacDiarmid’s interest in chemistry began at age 10 when he discovered one of his father’s chemistry textbooks.

In 1944, Professor MacDiarmid took a part-time job in the chemistry department at Victoria University College whilst studying courses in chemistry and mathematics. He graduated in 1951 with fi rst-class honours in chemistry.

He received a Fulbright fellowship in 1950 to study his PhD at the University of Wisconsin, where he met his wife Marian. Despite becoming an American citizen, he frequently travelled back to his home country to visit his family and give talks on chemistry.

Professor MacDiarmid was 73 when he became the third New Zealander to win the Nobel chemistry prize in 2000 for his work on developing conductive plastics.

His breakthrough chemistry work paved the way for advances in television and cellphone technology, among other things.

Professor MacDiarmid was also awarded New Zealand’s top science award, the Rutherford Medal, in 2000. In 2001 he was made a member of the Order of New Zealand.

The conference he was meant to speak at was held from February 11-16 at the Victoria University MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials & Nanotechnology, named after Professor MacDiarmid, and was attended by scientists from around the globe.

He is survived by his partner Gayl Gentile and four children.

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