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Department of Chemistry


Ian McDonald (left) with Daan Frenkel (far right) and Giovanni Ciccotti (University of Rome) in 1986

We are sorry to announce that our colleague Dr Ian McDonald passed away on Sunday the 19th of July.

Ian came to the Department in the late 1970s and found his home in what became the Theoretical Sector.  Ian was a physicist by background, and his PhD was concerned with NMR, but for most of his career he focused on statistical mechanics and computer simulation.  

Ian was without doubt a pioneer in the area of computer simulation and made many significant contributions.  Those who knew Ian and his science well all describe him as a modest and self-effacing person who never sought the limelight.  Nevertheless he had a wide network of significant collaborators across Europe and enjoyed a considerable international reputation.  Emeritus Professor Daan Frenkel, who was 1968 Professor of Theoretical Chemistry here from 2007 – 2015, says that Ian was “one of the founding fathers of molecular simulation” and describes his international influence as “huge”.
Ian was a generous colleague who always found time to give advice and help when asked.  He was a dedicated and meticulous editor of the prestigious journal Molecular Physics for many years.  Ian published several books, including the well known Theory of Simple Liquids, which he co-authored with Jean-Pierre Hansen (emeritus Professor of Theoretical Chemistry in our Department).  
In Ian we have lost an outstanding scientist whose warmth and generosity will be fondly remembered by all who knew him.

Professor Daan Frenkel notes that the above photograph was taken in May 1986 at the apartment of an Elsevier editor in Amsterdam, when McDonald, Frenkel and Ciccotti were working on their book "Simulation of Liquids and Solids: Molecular Dynamics and Monte Carlo Method in Statistical Mechanics"  (1987).