Dr. Derek C. Robinson, Director of the UKAEA Fusion Programme and Culham Science Centre, died on Monday 2 December 2002, in Oxford. After gaining a First Class Physics degree at the University of Manchester in 1962 he embarked upon his career in fusion research with a PhD which involved the study of plasma turbulence in ZETA. In 1968 he spent a year at the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, at the height of the Cold War, in a historical Anglo-Soviet collaboration in which a team led by Dr Nichol Peacock made crucial measurements of the temperature in the T3 Tokamak. Robinson’s contribution was seminal work on the theory of instabilities of plasmas. As a result of the team’s measurements, confirming that the performance of T3 actually exceeded the Soviet claims, the tokamak became the main line for international fusion research, as it still is today. On returning to Culham he became the driving force behind COMPASS and ultimately the UK’s pioneering spherical tokamaks, START and then MAST.

Robinson was for many years a member of the JET Scientific Council and JET Council, he was also a member of the ITER Technical Advisory Committee. He was as adept in fusion “politics” as in the actual science and an acknowledged international elder statesman. The many messages of condolence from colleagues across the world show the esteem in which he was held.

See Obituary written by Dr. R.S. Pease, published in “The Independent”, 9th December 2002:


and also Obituary from the Institute of Physics: