Professor Alan Macdiarmid
Alan MacDiarmid ONZ FRS was integral in working out how to make plastic conduct electricity, which has had innumerable practical applications in the information age and earned him a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2000, making him New Zealand’s third Nobel Laureate.
A Fulbright Fellowship and Shell Scholarship led to Sir Alan gaining doctorates at the University of Wisconsin and Cambridge University respectively. He joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 1955, where he held the distinguished position of Blanchard Professor of Chemistry from 1988 until his death in 2007.
In 1999, Victoria University of Wellington accorded him an honorary doctorate and in 2001 created the Alan MacDiarmid Chair in Physical Chemistry. In 2000, the Royal Society of New Zealand awarded him its top honour, the Rutherford Medal, and in 2002 he became a Member of the Order of New Zealand, New Zealand’s highest accolade.
Sir Alan continued with his pioneering research and eminent university positions around the world until his death in February 2007. His contribution to science and, more widely, the quality of human existence, was exceptional.