Vale John White

– Former AONSA President and AONSA Prize 2015 Recipient

Dear AONSA community, 

It is with sadness that I am writing to inform you that Professor John White passed away on 16 August 2023.  

Within the Asia Oceania Region, John was the first AONSA president from 2010-2011, as well as serving as chair between 2002 and 2012 of the International Advisory Committee for the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex. He remained active in AONSA for many years and was awarded the AONSA Prize for his career contributions in 2015 (see  

John White began his neutron scattering career in Europe in the 1960s, and soon rose to the top of the leadership in the field, serving as Neutron Beam Coordinator at Harwell and then Director of the ILL in Grenoble, France.  

Scientifically, John was a true giant of our field. He made immense contributions to neutron scattering:  most notably I believe he was probably the first to pave the way for applying the new method of neutron scattering (using neutrons from research reactors) to chemistry starting in the 1960s.  In addition, he was a prime mover in using specific deuteration of molecules to change the contrast in such experiments, something which now turns out to be one the best applications of neutron scattering in biology.   

Within Australia, John was a strong voice who helped both the neutron scattering facilities at the OPAL research reactor (formerly the Bragg Institute, now the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering) and the Australian Synchrotron.  

John was responsible for training several of the current generation of scientists who work at the ACNS and many other facilities.  Via his promotion of scattering techniques, John White has been responsible for launching the careers of a great many scientists across the globe. His former students and post-docs are scattered amongst university departments and scattering facilities throughout the world. The legacy of his leadership will be felt in Australia, the Asia-Oceania region and beyond for many years to come. 

On behalf of ANBUG, 

David Cortie

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