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Culture, history and society

Professor Derrick Crothers (1942-2021)

Ulster physicist made important contributions to theoretical molecular and atomic physics and produced more than 350 learned publications.

Illustrious Ulster physicist Derrick Crothers has died at the age of 78. He was a Fellow of the IOP, as well as of the American Mathematical Society. He was an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College Dublin and an Honorary Professor of Saint Petersburg State University.

A member of the Royal Irish Academy from 1991 until his death, he made important contributions to theoretical molecular and atomic physics and produced over 350 learned publications, including two single-author books.

Crothers studied mathematics at Balliol College, University of Oxford from 1960-63 after receiving a War Memorial Scholarship. He later began his academic career at Queen’s University Belfast, where he achieved his doctorate. From 1985, until his retirement in 2007, Crothers held a personal Chair in Theoretical Physics at Queen's University Belfast.

Outside of academia, Crothers was an avid sportsman. He played for Belfast Harlequins Rugby Club, and served on the club's committee, as well as that of the North of Ireland Cricket and Football Club. He was once the public relations officer for both outfits.

In 1973 Crothers was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly for the Alliance Party where he represented the South Antrim constituency, although the assembly collapsed the following year. Later, in 1979, he stood as candidate for Belfast City Council for the Lower Falls area.

He was the beloved husband of Eithne and father to Mark, Owen and Adele. Known affectionately as ‘The Prof’ by family and friends, he will be sorely missed.