Professor George Collins

Professor George Collins, deputy vice-chancellor for research and development at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne passed away unexpectedly on Friday 14 November at his family home.

A statement from chief executive of the CRC for Low Carbon Living, Deo Prasad, said:

It is with great sadness that we report the sudden death of our friend and colleague, Professor George Collins. Our deepest sympathies go out to his wife, children and family.

George passed away unexpectedly on Friday evening, after having spent two days with us at the CRCLCL annual forum presenting sessions in his own inimitable and typically enthusiastic and engaging style.

He was a highly valued member of the CRC for Low Carbon Living’s board, generously sharing with us his valuable insights, knowledge, experience and time – we will miss him greatly.”

Translating research into world-changing industrial practice was George’s passion and he had built a stellar reputation for his work in this area. He was also a good humoured, tenacious and highly likeable human being.

Professor Collins was also past chief executive officer of the CRC for Alloy Solidification Technology, Professor of Materials Science in the School of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Queensland and Chief of Research at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. George had earned international recognition for his research in the field of plasma surface engineering.

George’s fine work will continue through the many he has taught, worked with and inspired.

 A statement from Swinburne University said:

George was a highly respected applied physicist who had a long and productive career working creatively at the interface between industry and research. He was a trusted, admired and widely respected colleague and leader at Swinburne and within the wider Australian research community.

George was a fervent believer in the importance of applied research and connecting industry with scientists, engineers and researchers at universities and government agencies. He had a great way with people, which combined with his technical expertise, made him a natural leader in fostering collaborative research. He recognised that research was not just about narrow discipline fields, but about people and relationships.

George’s natural 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.

At Swinburne, George quickly made a strong impact by steering the university towards greater engagement with industry and promoting multi-disciplinary, collaborative research. He was immensely proud of the achievement of Swinburne’s researchers when the university was confirmed by the Academic Ranking of World Universities in the top 400 universities in the world, and in the top 75 universities in the world in the field of physics.

George also provided enthusiastic and helpful guidance to the university’s researchers to enable them to apply their research talents towards solving practical problems faced by industry and to create new products and services to meet emerging industry needs. He also inspired Swinburne’s research students, challenging them to ground their research expedition in the question ‘why?’ and to not be discouraged on the long and winding research training journey.

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 which 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. We offer our deepest sympathies to his wife, Evelyn, and their children and family.