An engineer whose insights into the behaviour of liquids and gases help support many of today’s technologies has died.
Jason Reese was born in Wimbledon in 1967 and studied physics at Imperial College London (1988) before going on to a PhD on shockwaves in rarefied gases at the University of Oxford (1993). After further research in Berlin and Cambridge, he became a lecturer at the University of Aberdeen (1996-2000), sparking a deep love of Scotland, and then lecturer and ExxonMobil fellow at King’s College London. Most unusually, in 2003, his next move was straight to a chaired professorship, as Weir professor of thermodynamics and fluid mechanics at the University of Strathclyde.
It was while at Strathclyde that Professor Reese carried out much crucial work in developing new computational tools to model gas and liquid flows. He also founded the Scottish Universities Insight Institute, devoted to “support[ing] programmes of knowledge exchange which address and provide insight on substantial issues that face Scotland and the wider world”.
In 2013, Professor Reese moved on to become the ninth person over a century and a half to hold the title of Regius chair of engineering at the University of Edinburgh. It was here that he further developed his research into how matter can be engineered at ultra-small length scales, leading to insights into how gases and liquids behave which have important practical implications for water filtration spacecraft and re-entry systems, surface coatings to reduce drag on ships and even lab-on-a-chip devices for medical diagnosis.
Widely admired for such research, Professor Reese had visiting positions at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and Johns Hopkins University during his career and, in 2016, was named an honorary professor at Xi’an Jiaotong University in China. He received the Philip Leverhulme Prize for Engineering and the Royal Society of Edinburgh Lord Kelvin Medal, and was invited to deliver the Royal Society of Edinburgh Bruce-Preller Prize Lecture.
From early on in his career, Professor Reese was active in promoting applications of his research. In 2002, he co-founded Brinker Technology, a spin-off from research he had carried out at Aberdeen. His appointment as Royal Academy of Engineering chair in emerging technologies in 2018 gave him further opportunities to produce tools needed to design and develop major new technologies. He was equally committed to encouraging wider understanding of his discipline, using public lectures to set out the basics of fluid dynamics and the vital importance of engineering.
Professor Reese died suddenly on 8 March 2019 and is survived by his wife, the historian Alexandra Shepard, and their daughter.