George Collins

Professor George Collins, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Development, Swinburne University of Technology (1955-2014)

20 June 1955 — 14 November 2014

Professor George Collins was a highly respected physicist who championed research and industry collaboration through his role as Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Development at Swinburne.

George strongly believed in the importance of applied research and connecting industry with scientists, engineers and researchers at universities and government agencies. He was a trusted, admired and widely respected colleague and leader at Swinburne and within the wider research community.

At Swinburne, George quickly made a strong impact by steering the university towards greater engagement with industry and promoting multi-disciplinary, collaborative research. George recognised that research was not just about narrow discipline fields but about people and relationships.

His intelligence, good humour and enthusiasm were the key elements of his leadership style. Among his greatest attributes were a natural humility and a great passion for discovery and innovation. He had no time for unnecessary bureaucracy that got in the way of good research and he did his best to clear it away whenever he came across it.

Before his appointment at Swinburne in 2012, George was the Chief Executive Officer of the CAST Cooperative Research Centre, where he promoted industry-focused research into the casting of metals. Prior to this, he had a long successful career at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Office (ANSTO), where he reached the position of Chief of Research, co-ordinating research into materials engineering and applications of neutron scattering.

Joining ANSTO as a research scientist in 1986, George pursued his passion for applying advanced surface engineering techniques to improve materials properties.

George received his PhD from the University of Sydney in Applied Physics in 1982, before taking up a post-doctoral fellowship at the Centre de Recherches en Physique des Plasmas in Switzerland.

George promoted collaboration between ANSTO and universities, and was an active supporter of several collaborative research centres. He also found time to be president of Materials Australia from 2009 to 2011.

At Swinburne, George was well known for his trademark purple ties, but it was the colour and passion which he brought to conversations about research that earned him so much respect. He was an enthusiastic advocate for research but also recognised his responsibility as a steward of the systems that allowed great research to thrive.

George's loss has been felt deeply by many people. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues and many friends at Swinburne and in the wider Australian research community.

A memorial plaque to honour George's memory can be found adjacent to the lifts on level 1 of the SPS building.

George Collins Memorial Fund

Colleagues and friends who wish to celebrate George's life can make a gift to his memorial fund.