It is with deep regret that we pass on the news that Em/Prof. Robert (Bob) Leith Dewar, FAA, has passed away in Cambridge UK following a stroke.  Bob was undertaking a six-month sabbatical from ANU at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, where he was an active participant in the Anti-Diffusive Dynamics programme, interacting with colleagues from a broad range of research areas. He recently celebrated his 80th birthday.  Colleagues and staff in the INI community are deeply saddened by his sudden death. We send our condolences to Bob’s family and friends.

Bob was a giant in the field of theoretical plasma physics, with important contributions in Magnetohydrodymanics (MHD) and in dynamical systems. These include MHD equilibrium and stability, MHD ballooning modes, Taylor relaxation and Hamiltonian maps. Bob worked closely with computer simulation and with experimentalists and has made important contributions to magnetic fusion research and to astrophysics. Recently he has been instrumental in the development of a multiple region relaxed MHD model to describe general stellarator fields in the SPEC code and he was presently working on a generalisation of such models to systems that preserve magnetic helicity.

Bob was a graduate of the University of Melbourne, and obtained a PhD in 1970 from Princeton University.  He was a staff scientist of Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory from 1970-1982, and an academic of the ANU from 1982-2011, with Emeritus Professor status from 2011 to the present.  He initiated several major collaborations across physics and mathematics, including the National Plasma Fusion Research Facility, the Australian Research Council Complex Open Systems Research Network, and led the ANU’s plasma theory and modelling group until retirement in 2011.  Perhaps most importantly, he has left a legacy in both research and teaching, spanning five postdocs, 16 PhD, and many Masters and Honours students.  Many of these now hold prominent positions in the field.

ANU Mathematical Sciences Institute: share a tribute or message on Bob Dewar’s obituary page here.

Professor Robert “Bob” Leith Dewar FAA (1944-2024)


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