first_imgSir Richard Southwood, an eminentzoologist and former Vice-Chancellor of the University, died on 26 October2005. A lifelong naturalist, Sir Richard founded and chaired the division ofLife Sciences at Imperial College, London beforemoving to Oxfordin 1979. In Oxfordhe was appointed Linacre Professor of Zoology and head of department, a positionhe held until 1993. A fellow of MertonCollege and Emeritus Professorin the department of Zoology, he made major contributions to both college andUniversity life. Sir Richard’s interest in naturalhistory, based on the observation of plants and creatures around his childhoodhome, began at a very young age. His early entomological work was on themorphology and taxonomy of Hemiptera-Heteroptera. This lifelong fascinationwith insects led to the production of several influential books, including Lifeof the Wayside and Woodland and Land and WaterBugs of the British Isles.The Story of Life, his mostrecent book, was published in 2003. It surveys the evolution of life in all its forms, from the earliestsingle-celled bacteria, via the evolution and extinction of animals such as the dinosaurs, to the variety of life today. As head of department, Sir Richard encouragedcommunication between various groups within the Zoology department. Theintegration of research from disciplines such as molecular biology, animalbehaviour and ecology allowed exciting hybrid work to flourish, including thatof Richard Dawkins, who moved from animal behaviour to evolution.Shortly after he became Vice-Chancellorin 1989, Sir Richard took over the Presidency of Campaign for Oxford, the University’s first major fundraisingcampaign. The campaign proved to be incredibly successful, raising £340m by thetime of its completion in 1994.In addition to his contributionsto academia, Sir Richard’s public service has been extensive and important.  During his four years as Chairman of the RoyalCommission on Environmental Pollution, three major reports were published andseveral research projects launched – his 1983 report was influential in the phasingout of lead-based petrol in Britain. While serving as Chairman of the NationalRadiological Protection Board, he established an EnvironmentalIssues Panel with a wider membershipof ‘green’ organisations. He also chaired the Working Party on BovineSpongiform Encephalopathy. The Working Party’s recommendations in 1988 and 1989guided the government’s policy on dealingwith BSE.In 1994 Sir Richard became Co-Chairmanof the Round Table on Sustainable development, an initiative set up by theConservative Government to advise on environmental matters. The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Dr John Hood, said, “Sir RichardSouthwood had a reputation for sharp political intelligence and rapiddecision-making, characteristics which served him well during his time asVice-Chancellor.”He continued, “His enthusiasm andkeen interest in interdisciplinary work inspired many scientists to look beyondthe confines of their own field. He will be remembered as an eminent scientistand a dynamic leader.”Professor Paul Harvey, Head of thedepartment of Zoology, said, “Sir Richard Southwood was an outstanding servantof our University to the very end. For many years after his formal retirement,he  presented a marvellous,annually-updated series of lectures to our undergraduates. His strategic adviceto the department at open meetings or in personal consultation was invaluableand, like him, will be sorely missed.”ARCHIVE: 3rd week MT 2005last_img