R.I.P. Dick Fong 

Just a quick post to pass on the very sad news that physicist and cosmologist Dr Richard Fong  – known to all his friends and colleagues as Dick Fong – died yesterday, on 4th January 2017.

Dick’s scientific background was in theoretical physics but he played a major part in the late 1970s and early 1980s in setting up and developing a group in cosmology and extragalactic astronomy in the Physics Department at Durham University. Dick was self-effacing about his own research but he was clearly an expert talent-spotter, bringing such luminaries as Tom Shanks, Richard Ellis and Carlos Frenk to work there. This initiative was extremely successful and Durham is now, and has been for many years, one of the world’s leading centres for cosmology research. Dick retired about fifteen years ago, but kept in touch with developments in the field. He leaves quite a legacy.

My own clearest memory of Dick was that he was on the panel that interviewed me for a research fellowship in 1992, just before the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) split up and spawned PPARC and STFC. Dick led the questions after my talk which I struggled mightily to answer, at least partly because I couldn’t really work out what he was asking! He was always a bit cryptic when talking about physics. Despite this I was awarded the Advanced Fellowship, which really established my own academic career and led to my first faculty position.

As well as that  very personal reason for remembering Dick, there is another which I’m sure will be shared by those who knew him and worked with him: he was a kindly and charming man who was always generous and helpful to others. He will be greatly missed by his friends and family, to whom I send heartfelt condolences.

R I.P. Richard Fong (1936-2017)

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2 Responses to “R.I.P. Dick Fong ”

  1. Very sad to hear this. Dick was a fine physicist, and a charming and hospitable man. I knew him best in the late 1970s, when he was setting up the Durham cosmology group, and made a succession of truly inspired appointments in his first group of research assistants and students.

  2. “he was a kindly and charming man who was always generous and helpful to others”

    Indeed. I met him a couple of times at conferences; nice chap!

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