Academic research: mineralogy and computer science
Tony came to research as an Oxford Chemistry undergraduate with his fourth-year project in the Department of Mineralogy, working with Dr (later Prof) Roger Burns. His project on infrared spectroscopic studies of orthoamphibole minerals was extended with the inclusion of the then-new technique of Mössbauer spectroscopy, Dr Burns being a pioneer of the application of Mössbauer analysis to mineral problems. Dr Burns took up a professorial position at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, and Tony continued his research under the supervision of Dr Eric Whittaker. He completed his doctoral thesis in 1975.
Despite moving into full-time professional work in IT, Tony has maintained his contact with mineralogy, contributing to conferences and to the definitive Encyclopaedia of the Solid Earth Sciences (P. Kearey, ed., Blackwell, 1993). He has been a member of the Council of the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain & Ireland.
Tony's research experience has stood him in good stead also in his IT career. At BP Research he was a member of a team developing the principles of management architectures for distributed computing systems: research which is highly relevant to today's widely distributed Internet-based applications. This work was in collaboration with teams at the Department of Computing, Imperial College; SEMA Group consultancy; AEA Harwell; Groupe Bull; ICL Ltd (now part of Fujitsu); and other research teams. There was wide contact with academic, IT vendor and enterprise researchers.
Understanding of the academic environment informs Tony's research into IT topics of significance. It enabled him to be early to experience the then-new internet and World-wide Web technologies, and to drive the alignment of SmithKline Beecham's corporate communications and IT services strategy towards the internet. He has also leveraged academic insights to develop IT "field trips" (the concept being borrowed of course from geology!) to University and major vendor IT research facilities, hearing about upcoming technologies at first hand.