We at the British Society for the History of Science would like to add our voice to those commemorating the life and work of Dr. Jeff Hughes, our former President (2008-09). His contributions to the history of science and to our organisation will continue to shape our field, and our thoughts are with all of his family, friends, and colleagues.
It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of our esteemed former colleague Dr. Jeff Hughes who passed away after a serious illness that forced him into retirement last year. Jeff was known and respected worldwide as a leading figure in the history of science community and was active as a scholar working on the history of twentieth-century science in general and especially the history of nuclear physics. He held various positions in national and international societies. He was first secretary and then president of the British Society for the History of Science, and he chaired the International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine (ICHSTM, 2013). From 2015 he was a member of the International Academy of the History of Science.
After completing his PhD thesis, Radioactivists: community, controversy and the rise of nuclear physics, at the University of Cambridge in 1993, Jeff joined the University of Manchester’s Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM). In his over twenty years of work at the Centre Jeff made huge contributions as an inspirational teacher and researcher. He was responsible for some of CHSTM’s most successful teaching units; for developing its Master programme; and for contributing substantially to the growth of its postgraduate community – not least by successfully supervising the dissertations of numerous PhD candidates.
Jeff was an extremely influential scholar who published widely in international academic journals, especially on the political implications of nuclear research and the role of scientists in general (and nuclear physicists more specifically) in government departments. Acute and witty in his portrayal of the interplay of science- and decision-making, he produced outstanding work which today is used in original research and teaching. His book The Manhattan Project: Big Science and the Atom Bomb was awarded the 2004 Watson Davis and Helen Miles Davis Prize by the History of Science Society. It stands as an important reference for students and practitioners seeking to locate the scientific enterprise that led to the production of the first atom bomb within the rise of large-scale scientific organisations and laboratories.
Jeff will be missed in our community, for his contribution to scholarly work, his initiatives to propel the growth of our discipline nationally and internationally, and the grace, integrity and humour with which he pursued his many achievements.
Jeff’s friends and colleagues at the CHSTM