Thomas Brazil, 1952-2018

THE (Times Higher Education) - - NEWS - Matthew.reisz@timeshigh­ere­d­u­ca­tion.com

A sci­en­tist praised as one of the “bright­est and most in­tel­li­gent mi­crowave en­gi­neers of our time” has died.

Thomas Brazil was born in County Of­faly, in the Repub­lic of Ire­land, on 4 Septem­ber 1952 and grew up in Dublin. He stud­ied en­gi­neer­ing at Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Dublin (1973), fol­lowed by a PhD in elec­tron­ics (1977).

After work­ing at Plessey Re­search at Caswell, Northamp­ton­shire (1977-79) and then briefly at the Uni­ver­sity of Birm­ing­ham (1979), he re­turned to UCD in 1980 as a lec­turer in elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing and es­tab­lished the Ra­dio Fre­quency and Mi­crowave Re­search Group. He was pro­moted to pro­fes­sor in 2003.

Even in his early days, Pro­fes­sor Brazil gave many signs of an in­fec­tious pas­sion for sci­ence. In his fu­ner­ary trib­ute, An­thony Fa­gan, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of elec­tronic and elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing at UCD, re­called a camp­ing hol­i­day when a group of doc­toral stu­dents went for a drink in the pub and then de­cided to visit a weather sta­tion.

“The staff were ac­tu­ally very nice and wel­comed us, say­ing that we had called at a good time as they were about to launch a weather bal­loon and we were wel­come to watch,” he said. “They started to give us sim­plis­tic ex­pla­na­tions of what they were do­ing, but after some very tough ad­vanced ques­tions from Tom about teleme­try and about the prin­ci­ples un­der­ly­ing at­mo­spheric mea­sure­ments us­ing mi­crowave ra­diom­e­try, they knew that they weren’t deal­ing with the av­er­age per­son who might wan­der in from the pub at mid­night.”

At the still thriv­ing re­search group that he founded, Pro­fes­sor Brazil es­tab­lished him­self as an au­thor­ity on ra­dio fre­quency power am­pli­fiers. He and his team car­ried out es­sen­tial re­search on ra­dio trans­mit­ters and re­ceivers. Since th­ese are now to be found ev­ery­where, this gave him an im­por­tant role in forg­ing to­day’s sci­ence of mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tions and he was ac­claimed by David Rhodes, a lead­ing fig­ure in the field, as “one of the bright­est and most in­tel­li­gent mi­crowave en­gi­neers of our time”.

Many other hon­ours also came Pro­fes­sor Brazil’s way. He was con­sulted by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, elected a fel­low of the In­sti­tute of Elec­tri­cal and Elec­tron­ics En­gi­neers in 2003 and elected to the Royal Ir­ish Academy the year after. He was highly ac­tive in the IEEE’s Mi­crowave The­ory and Tech­niques So­ci­ety, which has more than 13,000 mem­bers, and cho­sen by world­wide bal­lot to take over as pres­i­dent in 2018.

Pro­fes­sor Brazil re­tired from UCD in 2017, died sud­denly on 13 April and is sur­vived by his wife, Eileen, and three chil­dren.

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