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Andrew Parker 1941-2017

Andrew Parker Reading University

Head of the Postgraduate Research Institute for Sedimentology at Reading University, with a passion for fast cars and Bridge

Andrew graduated from Keele University in 1964 with a B.A. in Geology and Chemistry. He moved to Reading University, graduating with his Ph.D. in 1967 under the supervision of Mr. J. E. Thomas. Andrew was appointed as a Research Officer with responsibility for the X-Ray unit in the Geology Department, subsequently being promoted to Senior Research Officer, Principal Research Officer and Senior Lecturer in a career spanning over 40 years at Reading. Andrew was the Head of the Postgraduate Research Institute for Sedimentology (PRIS) at the University of Reading, from 1993 to 2003.

Calm and competent

From an early focus on mineralogy, Andrew’s research changed to the study of environmental pollution in modern sediments and he made a significant contribution to the understanding of the behaviour of organic contaminants in these sediments. He published 74 journal papers, as well as 43 chapters and articles in books. Andrew edited four books, two on Sedimentary Diagenesis with Bruce Sellwood, on the Environmental Interaction of Clays with Joy Carter and on The Frontiers of Geochemistry with Russell Harmon. Andrew was particularly proud of these books, which continue to be widely used.

Andrew made a substantial contribution to the supervision of research students and teaching. He was instrumental in the creation of a hydrogeology M.Sc. course and B.Sc. course in Environmental Science of the Earth and Atmosphere. It was a pleasure to teach field classes with Andrew—always calm and competent in all weathers, and preferring civilized accommodation to the cheap, cold digs to which most of us had grown accustomed!

Strategic thinker

Colleagues remember Andrew as a loyal and stalwart member of our community, who was courteous and supportive. He worked hard to keep the department at the front of technical developments and was a strategic thinker, always providing an illuminating contribution to an academic debate, often most astute in subjects he was not an expert in.

Perhaps Andrew’s outstanding contribution to the University of Reading came in 1988,

during the dark days of the Earth Science Review and the prospect of the forced closure of the Sedimentology Research Laboratory. Andrew initiated a flood of letters to the University Grants Committee from eminent sedimentologists globally, a campaign that reversed the decision and led to the successful set-up of PRIS, under the directorship of John Allen, with Andrew as his deputy.


Andrew was a Fellow of the Geological Society (Chartered Geologist), Mineralogical Society (Vice-President, 1996-1997) and Royal Society of Chemistry (Chartered Chemist). He was Chairman of the British Sedimentological Research Group (1990-1991) and Chairman of the Committee of Heads of University Geoscience Departments (2001-2003).

Andrew enjoyed driving fast cars and sailing fast dinghies. As one colleague put it, Andrew was a World War 2 Spitfire pilot only with a Triumph Spitfire instead! A successful Bridge player, he won the Berkshire County Bridge League 12 times with the Reading Bridge Club. He was Secretary of the Parochial Church Council of his local church and sang in the choir. Andrew was married twice, to Anne and then to Aniela, who survives him.

By Clive McCann, with contributions from colleagues from Reading University

A longer version of this obituary together with comments from colleagues may be read here