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Colin Leslie Williams 1948-2013

WilliamsSedimentologist, palaeontologist and sometime rock music promoter who became Dean of Faculty at Plymouth University

Colin Williams was born in 1948, growing up on a council housing estate in Newport, Gwent. He spent some of his early years both in and out of hospital, suffering a number of operations to relieve an orthopaedic condition. His early career was governed by music, working as a ‘gig’ promoter before he headed overseas to work in the oil industry in both North Africa and South America.

His passion for rock music was eventually overtaken by his desire to be a geologist and he returned to the UK to enrol as a mature student at the then Plymouth Polytechnic. He studied geology as a part of the new BSc in Combined Studies; a forerunner of the geosciences degree programmes that are still in operation today.

He went on to complete an MSc in Marine Earth Sciences at University College, London, before returning to Plymouth to study the sedimentology of the Upper Greensand Formation in S. W. England for a PhD (supervised by Ian Tunbridge and Malcolm Hart).

With the increasing numbers of students in the ‘new’ University of Plymouth (Which received its Royal Charter in 1992), he was awarded a part-time teaching position in sedimentology and palaeontology and later granted a research fellowship. During this time he contributed to a number of papers on the Upper Greensand Formation and mid-Cretaceous micropalaeontology. In 1996 he was given a full-time contract and, for a time, was programme leader for geology. During this time he also maintained contact with the hydrocarbons industry and was involved in small periods of consultancy which he juggled with his university commitments.

Always mindful of his background, he developed a passion for ‘widening participation’ and he joined Ian Tunbridge in the newly-formed University Partner College Faculty in 2003. This network of partner colleges extended from Bristol in the east to Penzance in the west, and also included the Channel Islands. In 2008 he became Dean of the Faculty and continued in this role until his death. During this time in his administrative role he never lost an interest in the geosciences and supported the subject at every opportunity.

He had a genuine passion for geology and palaeontology in particular. He also retained a love of music, science fiction - and malt whisky! He was a real ‘family man’ and is survived by his wife Debbie, son Brandon and daughter Tanith.

Written by Malcolm Hart