Atkins, William

William Ringrose Gelston Atkins (1884-1959)          

William Atkins was born in Cork in 1884, son of a physician and surgeon.  He was educated at Newtown School, County Waterford and he studied Experimental Science and Natural Science at Trinity College, graduating in 1906.

After graduating, Atkins worked in the Chemistry Department in Trinity College and later in the Botany Department where he published 10 papers on osmotic pressure in plants with HH Dixon.  During the First World War he did research on airplane materials, for example, the most suitable timber for airplane propellers.  He discovered that adding colloidal graphite to the engine oil allowed the planes to fly longer between oil changes.

After the war, Atkins returned to the Botany Department at Trinity College before accepting a position as research botanist at the Imperial Department of Agriculture in India.  He returned to England and was appointed Head of the Department of General Physiology in the Marine Biological Association’s Laboratory in Plymouth in 1921.

William Atkins was awarded an OBE for his work in the First World War.  He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1925 and he was awarded the Boyle Medal by the Royal Dublin Society in 1928.  He was awarded a CBE for his work in the Second World War for his work on atmospheric visibility for the Meteorological Office of the Air Ministry.

Further Reading:

Mollan, C.  2007. It’s Part of What We Are, Vol. 2, Dublin, Royal Dublin Society.


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