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Bob Cheary (1947-2002)

Bob Cheary, a member of the Applied Physics Dept at UTS for almost 30 years, died February1, 2002 in Sydney, Australia, at age 55. A great teacher, researcher and above all a man with the ability to communicate warmly and with interest to students, colleagues and administrators, Bob is sadly missed by all those who had the privilege to know him. After a practical background in hospitals and electric research laboratories in England, Bob graduated in Mathematical Physics in 1968 and completed his PhD in 'X-Ray Diffraction Line Broadening in Magnetic Oxides' at Aston U., Birmingham, UK. He joined NSWIT in 1972 and became an active participant in the development of the Applied Physics Degree Course. Bob was keen to strengthen the practical components of the course. When a student once enquired about Bob’s apparent career change from mathematical physics to experimental physics using x-rays, he said 'I got too lonely doing theoretical physics. I like to have people around'. People liked to be around Bob too.

As Head of Dept of Applied Physics in 1991 Bob led a revitalization of the Physics Laboratory Teaching Program, based on his industrial experiences and commitment to the value of practical hands-on training for students. With his enthusiasm for the applicability of physics to all areas of modern living Bob had valuable associations with colleagues in engineering, and the biological sciences. He worked with the Mechanical Engineering staff to prepare a hands-on based course in Electrical Machinery and with Electrical Engineering staff to develop student-orientated ways of teaching electronics. He disdained honors, but when the department nominated him for the Inaugural Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award, past students and associates persuaded him to reluctantly accept it.

As a research supervisor, Bob had a zest for new projects and the ability to secure support and external collaborators for projects. He was an active member of AXAA, the Australian X-Ray Analytical Assn, editor of the AXAA journal (1982-1985) and National President (1996-1998). He was active at international conferences and his Research Workshops at the Denver, Colorado, X-Ray Analysis Conferences, were highly acclaimed. He published papers on x-ray powder diffraction, x-ray instrumentation, analytic techniques, neutron diffraction, radioactive waste disposal, electrical and magnetic properties of materials and the analysis of defects, strain and phase transitions in materials.

Bob was a Visiting Fellow at universities in England, the Inst. Laue-Langevin, the European Synchrotron Research Facility, Grenoble, France, the Nat’l Inst. of Standards & Technology, Gaithersburg, USA, and the Daresbury Synchrotron Lab, UK, where he introduced his Ph.D. students to the joy of long hours of measurement at great facilities.

Chris Kelaart
9 July 2009