Phil Scott, 1953-2011

July 28, 2011

As well as being an avid fan of Sunderland Football Club and a keen mountain biker, Phil Scott was strongly committed to science education.

It was this passion that led him from the classroom to the lecture hall, where he forged a career in both teaching and research.

Professor Scott studied for his undergraduate degree in materials science at the University of Sheffield, then gained his qualification as a teacher in physics and mathematics from the University of Leeds in 1975.

The next 13 years he spent as a teacher and head of physics in comprehensive schools, finding time in 1986 and 1987 to return to Leeds and complete a master's degree. In 1988, he joined Leeds as a lecturer in science education, and he remained at the institution for the rest of his career.

Professor Scott was a senior research Fellow and coordinator of the Children's Learning in Science research group from 1990 to 1993. After that, he became lecturer in physics education. Studying part-time, he also pursued a doctorate in science education, which was awarded in 1997.

He was promoted to senior lecturer in 2000, and to professor of science education four years later. Professor Scott was also director of the Centre for Studies in Science and Mathematics Education. In 2008, he took up a post as visiting professor of education in the department of physics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

From 2005 onwards, he was involved with the journal Studies in Science Education, first as an assistant editor and then, from 2007 onwards, as joint editor. Between 2009 and 2011, he served as an executive board member of the US National Association for Research in Science Teaching.

Just weeks ago, the Institute of Physics honoured Professor Scott by naming him the winner of its Bragg Medal for significant contributions to physics education.

John Leach, pro vice-chancellor for engagement at the University of Hull, who worked with Professor Scott at Leeds, remembered him as an extremely personable individual who was outstanding in his field.

"He was one of the warmest people I have ever met. I don't know anyone who didn't like Phil. He immediately established a rapport with everybody he met. As soon as I met him, I knew that I was with a friend and that he was going to be an important person to me."

Professor Leach, who had been an academic colleague of Professor Scott's since 1989, said that he had been extremely easy to work with. "He was absolutely inspirational. Phil was one of those people who had that sharp intellect that allowed him to take quite profound insights and make them seem like common sense."

Professor Scott died on 15 July after suffering a pulmonary embolism. He is survived by his wife.

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